When you’re in college, it’s easy to make parties, sports, and extracurricular activities your primary focus. After all, between classes, papers, and studying, you deserve to have as much fun as you can!
But there’s something else that’s important to work into your routine as a college student:
Preparing yourself for your career.
Getting your degree may be the biggest step you can take toward achieving your career goals, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Ready to add a few more tasks to your already full plate? Here are some helpful tips to help students prepare for their careers while they’re still in school.
Learn Soft Skills
Regardless of your career path, it’s vital to learn hard skills while you’re in school.
For example, marketing professionals need to know how to create marketing plans and analyze results. Computer programmers need to learn how to code. Artists need to learn how to sculpt or paint.
But when you start interviewing for jobs, you’ll learn that soft skills are equally as important.
Soft skills are those skills that can’t necessarily be taught. They include things like leadership abilities, problem-solving, flexibility, and knowing how to work in a team.
Before you graduate from college, make it a point to learn some of these soft skills so you can include them on your resume. You can learn soft skills through part-time jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities. You can even discover them by joining clubs and organizations on campus.
It’s never too soon to network. No matter how far along you are in your college career, create a LinkedIn profile now.
Start building your list of connections by reaching out to alumni from your college or people who work in your field of interest. Join professional groups. Connect with your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, and people who work in your preferred industry.
You should also start attending networking events, especially ones on your college campus. Even if you’re not ready to apply for a full-time job, this is a great way to find a mentor and get a real feel for how your industry operates.
Keep in mind; networking doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put on a suit and be ready to hand out business cards.
Networking comes in many forms. You can network through fraternities and volunteering opportunities. Or by building strong relationships with professors.
Stay Up to Date on Your Industry
If you want to ace your first interview after graduation, you’ll need to know what’s going on in your field. Make it a point to stay on top of current industry trends and understand what industry insiders are buzzing about.
Stay abreast of what’s happening by reading industry publications. Read press releases and posts from your favorite companies.
Know where there’s growth and how the largest companies are growing their businesses. Take the time to understand what type of new technology is being used.
If you don’t already know the tech, learn it so that you already have that hard skill under your belt when it’s time to interview for your first job.
Do an Internship
Most college students have an idea of what their dream job looks like. But there’s no way to really know if it’s the job for you until you get your feet wet.
An internship is the best way to do this. It’s a great way to gain valuable insight into your industry and learn hands-on experience in your field. And, if you do a fantastic job, the company you intern with just might offer you a job when you graduate!
Even if you get an opportunity to do an unpaid internship, jump on it. It can be tempting to want to put your efforts into working a part-time job instead. But the experience you gain will be more valuable than any amount of money you can make as a barista or a retail clerk.
Plus, interning is a great way to network! The people you intern with will probably find new positions at other companies at some point in their careers. This can provide you with contacts at multiple companies in your industry, not just the one you intern with.
Don’t want to intern? Find work as a freelancer instead.
Freelance opportunities are everywhere, especially for creative students and marketing majors. Writers, graphic designers, and marketers should consider freelancing as a way to gain experience and earn income.
Internships and freelance jobs look great on a resume and can put you one step ahead of the competition when it comes time to land your first real job.
Learn How to Manage Stress
It doesn’t matter what your future career plan entails. At some point, you will inevitably feel some level of stress at your job. And those stressful feelings are especially prevalent when you’re entering a brand new field or a new job.
If you can learn to manage stress while you’re in college, you’ll be that much more prepared to handle your career when stress hits on the job. There are many ways to manage stress, such as learning deep breathing techniques and learning how to relax your muscles.
Getting your degree may be your main college goal, but that alone won’t prepare you for your career.
- Learn soft skills, such as problem solving and leadership
- Network online and in-person to make contacts that can help you land a job
- Stay up to date on industry trends
- Do an internship to gain insight into your field
- Learn how to manage stress, so you don’t feel overwhelmed once you start working full time
Don’t wait until graduation to start thinking seriously about your career. By doing a bit of extra preparation, you can be steps ahead of the competition by commencement.
And if it means missing one party or skipping one football game, so be it. There will always be more of those!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Cottages at Tucson every day to help them with their marketing efforts.