Success after college doesn’t just happen. There are things that the smart college student does to MAKE it happen! It’s never too early to start learning these skills and thinking about these action items, so let’s get started on your plan to a great career, lifelong happiness, prosperity, and winning good looks! (You’d actually have to read another blog for tips on that last one.)
Do your best in your classes so you learn as much as possible
The more you know, the more you’re worth. Knowledge is power. One of my teacher friends tells her students, “Grade’s equal cash!” It’s catchy and true. Learn as much in your classes as possible. Take an extra course here and there to earn a certificate of proficiency in something. You’ll always be glad you did!
Do your best in your classes so your transcript looks solid for employers
Prospective employers (and certainly grad school committees) will often ask to see your transcripts, so be aware of this from day one of college. Do your best to keep your transcript as strong as possible, because your transcript can often help you get that first job. Your transcript is certainly scrutinized in a grad school app, so be ready! College is tougher than high school, so it won’t be as easy for you to get the same GPA. Still, do your best.
Consider double majoring
Double majoring is a great way to extend your knowledge and skill set and to make yourself more marketable after college, in the job market. You can double major in complementary subjects, like Political Science and History, or in wildly disparate subjects, like Archaeology and Economics. The sky is really the limit. Double majoring fosters creative thinking and problem-solving–all things employers love! It can be tough to major in two very precisely regimented majors, like Engineering and Business, but many colleges are creating majors to meet this growing demand.
Do career interviews and job shadows
One way to learn about possible careers and to make inroads with potential employers is simply to ask people for advice. Ask very successful people to share their stories with you, the story about how they got where they are. You can ask questions like, what did you major in? What should I major in? What do you love/dislike about your job? What personality types are good for this career? Etc etc. People LOVE to tell their stories and give advice, and younger people rarely ask, so you will most likely find willing participants pretty easily. Personal introductions usually work best, but don’t let that stop you.
Look for summer internships
Summer internships are the primary way that your generation is getting jobs after college. Quite simply, you need them on your resume. Internships speak to your skills and tell a potential employer what you can actually DO on the job. In today’s tough job market, internships are mandatory in order for you to be hired.
Learn how to network during college
Networking is a professional skill that you must develop, and the sooner the better. In simple terms, it means you meet people, genuinely try to get to know them on a professional level by engaging them in conversation, figure out what they do and what circles they move in, and then get their contact info for future reference. Consummate networkers introduce people to other key people who might be able to help them solve a problem or someone it would just be good for them to know. You can network for yourself all the time, but it’s a nice gesture to introduce people when the connection clicks in your mind, just to help other people out. That good business karma comes back!
Create and update your resume during college
Start your resume and keep it updated once a month when you’re young and job hunting. There are plenty of resume templates online. Make sure your font size is not tiny or huge; 10 or 11 is good. Use an easily readable font–nothing in italics or all bold. Keep it to one or two pages max–never more. Attend the resume writing workshops at your college’s office of career services!! Always be ready to send your resume on a moment’s notice, so keep it updated.
Impress your bosses so you can get great recs
EVERY BOSS MATTERS. It doesn’t matter what the job is, it’s your job. Keep your head in the game. Always be professional and hard working and positive. Show up early, stay late, solve problems, never create them. Bosses love hard work and good attitudes even more than big brains. You will need this boss to say great things about you for your next job, so never EVER for a moment forget that. Always include your boss in every conversation; do not exclude your boss while you bond with your coworkers. Never roll your eyes if your boss doesn’t get something, especially if it’s a generational thing. Do not leave the room until your boss finishes speaking. NEVER pretend to know more than you do–that’s horrible for your professional reputation. Always greet your boss when you come into the office and when you leave. Smile and be friendly, but don’t get familiar, even if you’re tempted. Stay professional!
You should also get a LinkedIn account set up and consider getting some business cards, maybe through your college. Have your resume ready at all times, because someone might ask you to email it over to them today–you never know! Get ready to be a star! You ARE a star! Yay, college!