Preparing For Your Career While Still In College

Preparing For Your Career While Still In CollegeMaybe you just graduated from college, or you will be graduating soon…this can be a scary time in life. You might be starting your first job, still looking for a job, or you may be planning to continue your education. Whatever the case may be, the real learning starts now. This month at LTAW we will be giving tips for recent college graduates and soon-to-be college graduates.

When you’re in college don’t put off thinking about your career until your senior year. Your future job should be at the forefront of your mind during your entire college career. Of course by choosing a major you have already put some thought into what you want to “be when you grow up”. But it shouldn’t stop there. There are several things steps you can take while in school to help you get ready for your career after graduation.

Take relevant coursework. The coursework you take is probably the most obvious way you can prepare for your career after college. Whenever possible you should associate your assignments with future work. The electives you decide to take will depend on what direction you plan to go after graduation – choose them wisely.  If you’re a freshman and not sure what you want to do yet, that is OK. Many schools do not require that you declare a major right away. Do some research to figure out what occupation is the best fit for your interests, strengths and weaknesses.

Network, network, network. Networking is extremely important. You can find out whether a particular job is right for you by talking to people who are currently doing that job or who have done it in the past. Be strategic about who’s in your network. You can build your network by getting involved in professional organizations, getting to know your professors and by asking your career counselor to introduce you to someone within your field of interest.

Be an intern. Internships are one of the best ways to apply what you learned through your coursework to real world situations. They also allow you to “test drive” a particular career field and company, and increase your network. (See last week’s post: Internships – Why Bother?) Internships look great on your resume and can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for full time jobs after graduation.

Make the career center your second home.  Most colleges and universities have career centers for students. They are a great resource. Many students make the mistake of either not using the dedicated career counseling staff or waiting until the last minute (second semester of senior year) to seek help. Visit the career center during your first semester of college. It’s not too soon. And don’t be a stranger, visit the center regularly until graduation. If you are unsure of what you want to do career wise, they have several assessment tools that can help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses and what occupation would be a good fit. They also offer career counseling, assistance with resume writing, opportunities to meet with recruiters for internships and permanent jobs, and career related workshops and seminars.

Your college years offer a great opportunity to network, build skills, and get experiences for your future. If you take advantage of this opportunity, you will give yourself the upper hand over the many other college students who will be competing for the same jobs upon graduation.

You’re Graduating…Now the Real Learning Begins!


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