You’re still in an enviable position in life. You’re a freaking college student. The world is your oyster. Every mistake you make? Just another early bump in the road while driving through the short highway of learning experiences. But here’s a mistake you don’t want to make. And that is not getting your bases covered for your post-grad life.
After all, getting the diploma is ultimately about the job.
So here’s what you need to do to prevent a lot of future headaches of uncertainty.
I. Know your path. Then choose it... But be careful.
It seems like a no brainer, eh? But think about it. So many college students aren’t even sure about who they are or where they want to be until they’re finally forced to. Usually this happens around Junior year, once you’ve run out of core classes to take and you’re coerced into a major.
Then there are the few lucky ones who’ve known what they wanted to be since free-falling out of the womb.
It’s vital to your future to take time to make these self-discoveries. Because once you figure out who and what you want to be for the rest of your life, you can start researching the steps necessary to make that goal a reality.
Manpower conducted a study where they found that 1/3 of employers have a hard time finding qualified job candidates to fill their open positions. How is there such an influx of college grads, but no one is filling these positions?
Simple… students are being careless when choosing their majors.
Students who choose to study something specialized like business, education, engineering, or nursing are more likely to find jobs that align with their college degree, than those students who majored in communications or humanities for example.
According to Manpower, many employers believe that the education system fails to get kids interested in what the economy really needs.
Be strategic in your thinking. Consider the demand for each field and find something that coincides with your skill-set and passions.
Speak to a professor who can help you fulfill your dream. Seek out extracurricular opportunities that’ll build up your resume in preparation for your impending job hunt.
II. Get involved. Work for free. While you have time.
Let’s face it. Getting that piece of paper (diploma) after graduation doesn’t carry the same sense of rare and elite accomplishment with it as it once used to. Every year is a record year for the total of nationwide college graduates.
Few factors separate you from the rest of the competition. Experience, may just be the most important one. This is why getting extracurricular activities like internships and other peripheral involvement are paramount to your transition into the workforce.
Whatever your major is, seek out opportunities to get involved.
Here are some suggestions:
- Are there fraternities/student organizations dedicated to your field?
- Does your campus have any ongoing volunteer opportunities that’ll provide exposure to decision makers in your career path?
- Are there on campus part-time jobs related to your field in any way?
Also, put your pride aside. If there’s an internship... take it. Don’t worry about the pay. Yes, it sucks to be stuck in an internship where your only contribution is shredding papers, fetching coffee, and serving as a human footrest for your corporate masters.
But it’s a game. Savvy? It’s sort of like an RPG. Your character starts off at level one and gradually works his way up to level-99 awesomeness by overcoming the soul-sucking clutches of unpaid internships.
At the end of the journey you’ll either be offered a full-time position with that company. Or, at the very least, you can plug that experience into your resume. Something that’ll go a long way toward landing you an interview.
After all, employers need be certain you can excel in a corporate, high-stress, team-oriented environment.
But don’t stop at one.
Land as many of these internships as you can. A beefed up resume with relevant work experience makes you look 10x better than someone with a 4.0 GPA.
III. Stay in touch with other human beings.
You’re probably saying, "This guy wants me to run around doing all these internships, bust my hump in college, and still manage to keep a social life? What a fool."
That’s right. It’s going to be really tough. But in the midst of this chaotic hurricane of ambition, dream chasing, and sacrifice that is the adult life, you must find a way to make time for yourself and those closest to you.
You owe it to yourself. Trust me. Otherwise you’ll go insane.
Never lose sight of the fact that your social success is almost as important as the academic counterpart. When you step into an interview, employers will also be looking to see if you’ll be easy to work with. So be pleasant. Be personable.
IV. Embrace social media’s potential.
The old adage still rings true... It’s not always what you know, but who you know.
The playing field is different for us Millennials. If you’re serious about getting a great job, social media is not an option. It’s a necessity. A vital tool that’ll tighten the screws of success.
LinkedIn stands alone as the cream of the crop social network for professionals. So if you haven’t already, get your butt on there, and make an account. And don’t cheapen out on completing your profile, either. It’s crucial that you put in as much detail as you can about your skills, work experience, and anything else that’ll shine your marketing in the eyes of on-looking prospective employers.
Also... if you have any inappropriate pictures or statuses on your Facebook account, then I suggest you fix that pronto. It’s true that you can maximize privacy settings. But it’s still not worth running the risk of getting "outed" to your employers as some reckless party animal. Even if that’s not who you really are... that one picture of you doing a keg-stand might say otherwise in the eyes of virtual spectators.
Have a Twitter? Get in touch with your dream company and follow them. Also, if you get a chance, follow their decision makers. The more present your name and face is, the more likely they’ll remember you!
Make sure to regularly reach out to these social network contacts.
IV. Create your own experience... Freelance.
Freelancing careers run the gamut. But this approach isn’t for the faint of heart. You’re basically starting your own business, you know? Which means that you must think strategically. Research, prepare a basic business/marketing plan, prospect, deal with client demands, etc.
But you’re in college. What do you have to lose? The beauty of starting your own freelance venture is that, unlike a brick-and-mortar business, you have very little overhead. It’s low risk-high reward.
So you must be wondering how starting your own freelancing business helps you land a "real job" with a "real company. Well... simple.
I’ve said this before, "Freelancing experience doesn’t help get your foot in the door---it roundhouse kicks it off the hinges."
There’s an interview scenario.
You’re the employer, sitting at your desk. Before you, two resumes.
One of them is a freelancer’s with--let’s say--a year of direct client work under his belt.
Then there’s the other guy with the internship--let’s say that it was non-paid.
Assuming you’re a competent employer with the company’s best interest in mind, there several qualities about this freelancer that immediately stand out.
- Honors Deadlines
- Understands and Uses Marketing
- Delivers Quality Work
You have the edge. By far.
And that’s all I have to say, folks.
I think it’s time for you to get your future in order.
So get out there. Position yourself.
And get that dream job.