Kicking off your career in college is essential to your success after graduation. College students who do internships, brand themselves, and gain real world experience are more likely to land jobs after college than those who don’t do anything to advance their careers.
There are so many different things you can do to launch your career as a college student.
First things first, you can join a student organization, volunteer, and build your online presence. As you begin to gain more experience, you can start exploring job shadow opportunities, informational interviews, and internships.
As you can tell, in a short period of time, you can launch your career as a college student and have a competitive advantage among your peers. The more you find career success in college, the more confidence you will have in your career path and accomplishing your dreams.
So how do you get started?
Set Realistic Career Goals
Even if you’re still undecided in your major, you need to always create new career goals for yourself. By starting off with smaller goals, you will be able to work toward achieving a larger goal, such as landing an internship or your first entry-level job.
For example, let’s say you are undecided about your major. In this case, make it a goal to research jobs related to your interests and discover what types of careers appeal to you. Once you find an interesting job, see if you can arrange a job shadow or informational interview with a professional in that field. By creating these types of career goals early in your college career, you will be able to begin the process of launching your career.
Write Your Career Creed
Writing a career creed is a very helpful tool in launching your career as a college student. Once you decide your career goals, you can incorporate those goals into your creed. Your creed should define the purpose of your career and who you are as a young pre-professional.
By writing your career creed, you will be able to use your career goals to help you understand what you’re looking for in a career and how you plan to accomplish those goals. This way, you will have created a foundation for your career search early on in college, which will bring you one step closer to success.
Check Out Your School’s Career Resources
Your university most likely has endless career resources to help you get your career on track while in college. It’s important for you not to disregard these career resources because they can definitely help you get ahead in your search. From advice on writing cover letters to information on landing internships, your university offers excellent career resources to help stay focused on your career.
The earlier you discover what’s available to you on campus, the sooner you can start creating career goals and gaining experience.
Find an On-campus Job Related to Your Interests
If you have the opportunity to find an on-campus job related to what you want out of your career, you will be another step ahead in your career search. This type of job can be a great opportunity for you to gain experience and build your portfolio before you land your first internship.
The more experience you can gain as a college student, the better — so by landing an on-campus job that fits your interests, you can gain skills applicable to your major in addition to transferable soft skills.
Connect with a Mentor
Finding a mentor in college can be one of the most valuable career resources you’ll ever have. Mentors serve as an excellent resource of advice and knowledge — and they can even serve as your biggest cheerleader. You want to find a mentor who is a professional in your field so you can have someone to guide you along the way with their personal experience.
This mentor can be a professor, upperclassman, or even an alumni of your program. Whoever you seek out to be your mentor, make sure you find someone who you connect with and can help you learn more about your career path.
The key to kicking off your career in college is setting career goals, discovering your interests, and putting in the effort to advance your career.
Whether you’re a freshman in college or you’re entering your senior year, it’s never too late or early to launch your career.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up enjoying your time in college, but you should think about where you want to be in the next four years. When you take these steps to launch your career in college, you will be prepared to start your life as a professional as soon as your accept your diploma.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends Heather Huhman!
About this Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Heather writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.