Professional Things You Should be Starting in College
What is college really about? Being stressed out over assignments you don’t want to do? Never getting more than five hours of sleep a night? Sacrificing study time to engage in more fun, social experiences? While there are many reasons you go to school, there is an ultimate goal that sometimes slips to the back of your mind – getting a professional job. It seems to be the way life works; we get involved in a lot during high school so that we can impress the best Universities. Once we arrive at our dream college, we then get heavily involved to impress our dream employers. Although there are plenty of other things along the way, there are a handful of easy tasks you can be tackling right now to better prepare you for life after graduation. Keep reading to find out about what these things are, and how you can start preparing yourself while you’re still in school.
Beefing Up Your Linkedin
There is really no reason that you shouldn’t have a Linkedin, or why you shouldn’t be updating it pretty frequently. As the best social media site for professionals, Linkedin is an easy way to make connections with classmates, professors, recruitment managers, and business owners in the field that you want to work in after school. There are so many options for what you can add to your profile, that even if you don’t have a lot of professional experience, you can still impress viewers with what you do have. It’s easy to ask for recommendations for any internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer experience you have listed, and that’s a great way to show employers your hard work ethic, ability to problem solve or any area you might have excelled in at a previous job. Linkedin also lets you add a set of ‘skills’ that your classmates and coworkers can endorse you for, there’s a section to list out your awards and achievements, and you can even add a summary to describe yourself. (This is a great place to list out what kind of work you might be looking for, describe your best qualities in a workplace or even list unique things about yourself that sets you apart from other applicants.)
Fine Tuning Your Résumé
Regardless of what you’re studying or interested in, chances are you will need to have a résumé of some sort. Whether you’re applying for an internship or a full time position, you will most likely need to submit a résumé for pre-screening purposes. Thankfully, as long as you update your résumé pretty often, adding another line of experience or a new award isn’t too time consuming. One thing that a lot of students often don’t realize is that as you gain more experience that is relevant to your field, you can start to replace old stuff like what you were involved with in high school. Think of it this way – your résumé should showcase all of the professional experience you have and list any awesome accomplishments you’ve earned or made during your time at college. You want to make sure that it is only featuring your most recent and relevant work.
If you have the time among your class schedule, school activities and clubs and all the other things you’re involved in, you should definitely take advantage of internship opportunities. There are internships available in any field of study and a lot of them are pretty easy to get. If you’re concerned about not having the time, you might want to look for unpaid internships. These kinds of gigs often only ask for a little bit of your time each week, and sometimes even work around your schedule. If you would prefer something that is paid, there are a lot of those opportunities out there, but beware that they might be more competitive to get, and will probably require more work and more of your time. Not only are internships a great way to gain professional experience, but they are a great way for you to make more connections, see what kind of work environment suits you best, and sometimes they can even lead to a full-time position once you are out of school.
Practicing for Interviews
In any situation where you are applying for a job, whether it be an internship, full-time position or even a part-time gig while you’re still in school, chances are you will be faced with an interview. One of the best ways to prepare for interviews are to practice answering the most common questions you might hear. Questions like “Tell us about yourself” or “Why should we hire you?” or one of my least favorites “What would you consider your biggest weakness?” No one ever really likes answering a lot of these questions, but you can surely boost your confidence by practicing answering them beforehand. There are tons of online resources listing out the most common interview questions, and some of those even suggest the best ways to go about answering them. Interview questions are designed to make you think, and your responses will give the interviewer some insight into how you think and process things. Being as prepared as you can be will show that you are serious about and ready for the interview, and you have confidence in yourself to give strong responses to those tricky questions. (I love this article on TheMuse about how to answer common interview questions!)
Using Your Resources
In addition to all of the above, there are other things you can do to help prepare you for the real world, and to help you become a stronger applicant for the job you want. While you’re in school you have access to almost unlimited resources that can help you prepare for the professional world. A lot of schools host seminars to help you with things like interview prep, résumé guidance and even provide job fairs each semester where outside employers come on campus to see if any students are interested in working with them. In addition to participating in these seminars and attending these events, you should also take advantage of your school’s career center. Chances are they have an online job posting site that is updated multiple times a week with the best opportunities for you. This would be a great place to find internships and co-ops while you’re still a student, and you can even find job postings for full-time positions in your area once you graduate. Another great resource you have are the professors you see every day. They’re professionals, they hold a lot of knowledge, and chances are they’ve probably worked in your field outside of a classroom. My professors were always really eager and willing to answer any questions I had about how to find a job, ways to build my experience, and they even helped me with things like personal branding and networking. Don’t forget that they are there to not only educate you, but to also help you succeed. They want you to be successful once you graduate too!
If you are already doing and taking advantage of some of the things on this list, then you are on your way to being more prepared for graduation and hopefully a more desirable candidate for the job you want. If you’ve not done anything on this list, don’t worry – it’s easy to get started. There are a lot of things you will learn in college, and learning how to be resourceful and use your time to kick start your career is a must. Being prepared and starting on these things early will ensure that you will be as ready as you can be to enter the professional world once you graduate.
This article was originally posted on AroundCampus
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