Going to college: 7 ways to get a head start in your career

Now that summer break is nearing its end, it’s time to prepare yourself for a new chapter in life: you’re going to college! Although getting a degree is an essential foundation for your career later in life, other ingredients could give you a head start post-graduation. In this article, we share some of the most helpful tips to gain experience without the commitment of a full-time job.

College is often seen as the best time of your life, and it’s perfectly understandable that the last thing on your mind right now is getting your career started. Although we fully encourage you to enjoy your life to the fullest, it’s also a fact that future employers tend to only hire people with the right experience – even for entry-level positions. So how do you land a job without any accomplishments in the field? Luckily, hiring managers don’t expect you to have years of working experience, but they do look for candidates with interesting assets aside from a degree. Of course, you will already gain a lot of skills through socializing and picking the right courses, but there are other options. Let’s have a look at some of the many ways to boost your career before you’re even starting, without consuming all your costly time meant for books and beers.

  1. Join a student society or organization

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you study, or what makes your heart beats faster. Every university or city has numerous clubs and associations that cater to your hobbies or interests. How cool is it to build new friendships with like-minded people and work on your people skills without even realizing it? Your membership alone can be a nice addition to your resume, but it also opens many doors to new possibilities. Being a member of the party committee for a year may not sound that impressive, but it can be a very useful experience that teaches you to take responsibility while offering you plenty to talk about during your first job interview.

2. Consider taking a part-time job

Perhaps you can’t escape this one, since you simply need a side job to pay for your rent. In any case, taking a part-time job alongside your studies is a very important learning experience, no matter how ‘useless’ your job may feel. If you manage to find a job that fits your schedule which you can easily combine with your studies, we definitely recommend doing so whether you need the money or not. At the end of the day, when looking at your resume, any job or experience counts. It radiates a sense of will responsibility and comes with many other transferable skills such as communication, customer service, or organization. It’s important to never underestimate the power of these skills, regardless of your job.

3. Make use of career counseling

Almost every university offers free career coaching or counseling, so why not make use of this service while you can? Your tuition is high enough as it is, and especially if you’re nearing your graduation it’s the ideal place to pay a visit to guide you on your career path. The people there are trained to help you with all kinds of career-related matters such as crafting your resume, pinpointing your skills, or even finding the right job after graduation. A university’s career services are the ideal way to kick-start your career and can help you get a clear idea of where you stand and how to apply for your first job

4. Do some volunteering

Another great way to gain experience during your time in college is doing volunteer work, as it allows you to enter different fields of expertise that offer multiple ways of taking responsibility while still in school. On your resume, it reflects dedication, willingness to learn aside from tons of other skills that are there for the taking. For potential future employers having done volunteer work – no matter what kind – also means a guaranteed green checkmark when going scrolling through possible candidates, so it’s definitely worth considering.

5. Apply for an internship

An internship is an ideal possibility for you to put your knowledge to the test and turn theory into practice. During an internship, you will get a glimpse of what you can expect from working life and could open many doors in the future. During your time you will get to see why a specific field is cut out for you or not, and it also helps you work on job-related hard skills that can be of use at the start of your actual career. With a little luck, you will also build lasting relationships that mean the start of your professional network, and if you really hit the jackpot you might even return on their payroll after collecting your diploma.

6. Build up a network

Even if you decide to ignore the aforementioned tips, one key factor in starting your career is to build up a steady network during your time in college. What you need to realize is that a lot of your classmates can and will eventually also be your colleagues since you’re all more or less thinking of entering the same field. If all goes according to plan, you’ll keep in touch with many of them long after graduation day, and sharing the same ambitions could potentially come with a lot of advantages during your career. Aside from your college buddies, we also recommend getting in touch with lecturers and professors, who usually have a major foot in the ground within your future field. Working on a professional relationship could lead to a lot of useful references in the future.

7. Keep your resume up-to-date

The last tip is of the general kind. Whatever you do during college, make sure to keep track of all your activities that are worth mentioning on your resume. Even a temporary project could prove very useful later in life. We strongly recommend you start building your resume as early as possible, simply because we’re humans and we tend to forget. Another reason to keep your CV up-to-date is that you never know what will come your way. It might be that even during college you find a job opening, but the deadline is approaching. It’s better to be prepared than miss out, right? While we’re at it, setting up a LinkedIn account is also highly recommended. It’s the ideal social medium to work on your professional network, and setting up an account won’t take long. Many recruiters only work through LinkedIn, so you might miss out in the future if you don’t have one on standby – although that doesn’t mean you have to update it every Sunday. A very clever tool to help you check if your professional profile ticks all the boxes is CareerAnalytics, a platform designed to make the most out of you and your profile. Once you finished working on your resume and LinkedIn, you can upload them for a final check. CareerAnalytics also offers many other insights into where your career might be headed, and it can show you what skills are needed for specific jobs. In conclusion, we would like to add that all of these tips might sound overwhelming and the least of your worries right now, but we promise that you won’t regret following just a few of these later in life!

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