The ultimate goal after college is to obtain a professional job, and there are several things you must do in college to help make sure your transition to a career goes smoothly. Currently, the job market for recent graduates is fairly dismal, which can be quite disconcerting when you have spent a great deal of time and money going to college so you can have a good career. However, if you are strategic about the things you must do in college you can make yourself much more competitive in the job market. The time you spend in college should prepare you for a professional life, and if you plan accordingly, you can be a post grad with a job.
1. Get Good Grades
I once heard a fellow student say that C’s get degrees. Although he had a point, the problem with getting average or less than average grades is that you will not stand out to future employers. Graduating with a high GPA will allow you to demonstrate that you are a hard worker and will be an asset at any place you may work. Additionally, when you receive good grades you open yourself up to other opportunities, such as becoming a member of an honor society, that will make you stand out even more. While getting good grades seems obvious, this is one of the most important things you must do in college to make yourself desirable to future employers.
2. Get to Know Your Professors outside of the Classroom
When I was in college I got to know several of my professors really well. I would go to their offices and ask for advice about a variety of things including assignments, what I needed to do to prepare for graduating, and where people in my major found jobs. Your professors are extremely knowledgeable about jobs in your major and how people obtain those jobs and can help point you in the right direction. They can also assist you by writing letters of recommendation for potential employers. When I first started college I was shy about asking for help, but I learned that the professors really do want to help students in any way they can and they are almost always very kind and helpful. So, don’t hesitate to ask your professors questions other than when the next assignment is due, because they can truly help you prepare for post grad life.
3. Get Involved
Do you remember when your high school counselor told you that extra-curricular activities look really good on college applications? The same is true for your resume. Activities like clubs, honor societies, sports, and volunteering give you a bit of an edge over another applicant who did not participate in these types of endeavors. Your future boss wants to see that you get involved and work well with others, and extra-curricular activities are an excellent way to demonstrate this. Serious talk aside, getting involved can help you make friends and gives you a chance to have fun outside of the classroom.
4. See Your Career Counselor
Early in your college life make an appointment to see a career counselor at your school’s career center. I waited until I was a senior, and I found out that seeing a career counselor as early as your freshman year can be even more helpful. Career counselors are not only useful for helping you put together a resume; they can also help you through the application process and let you know when career fairs are coming. Additionally, they know what employers in your desired field are looking for, and they can tell you if an extra class or picking up a minor could make you more competitive. Think of career counselors as the professors for life post grad as they can really help you get the tools you need to find a good job. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do and haven’t picked yet, stop into the career center because they can help you find something you would like to do that you might not have ever thought of!
If you have the chance to apply for an internship, take advantage of the opportunity. Internships are an excellent way to get experience in your desired field, and if you’re lucky, they can even lead to a job opportunity. I know several people who ended up getting jobs at the places where they interned in college. The boss remembered them and wanted to hire them when they graduated! However, even if you aren’t quite this lucky internships still give you experience, and often your boss will be willing to write you a letter of recommendation for your job search.
6. Develop a Work History
It is really important that while you are in college you work enough, even if it is only during summers, to demonstrate that you have ample experience working. Employers like to see that you have job experience because it shows them that you have practical work skills. I did not have a lot of work experience when I graduated because I took courses in the summer as well, and I found out that having a little more work experience would have been really beneficial. However, I did have some experience from substitute teaching ballet and tutoring that did enable me to demonstrate I had transferable skills. Those summer jobs you get may not seem like the most glamorous jobs right now, but they can actually help you in the future by allowing you to demonstrate you have work experience with transferrable skills.
7. Clean up Your Facebook Page
Taking out the pictures of your parties and asking your friends not post questionable pictures of you may not seem like the most important thing to do right now to prepare for a future job, but removing compromising pictures can help you in the in the future with getting a job. Many companies now search Google and Facebook to obtain information about prospective employees, and pictures of you at last night’s sorority party are not going to help you look like you are mature enough for a professional job. Even if your Facebook page is private, I still recommend keeping it clean. Believe it or not, when I was taking methods classes for teaching we were actually told not to have a Facebook page! It seems potential employers take these pictures very seriously. I know you can’t monitor every picture of you that gets put up, but at least try to keep your own pictures appropriate so your future boss doesn’t see something you wouldn’t want him or her to see.
Finding a job after college is not always easy, and it can be very frustrating. I know many people, especially in today’s economy, that have struggled with getting their first job post grad. However, if you do these specific things while you are in college you can dramatically improve your chances of getting a good job. What tips do you have for getting a job after graduation?