When you’re in college, it’s easy to make plans for the future and to dream of the career you want, but once you graduate, things don’t always fall into place. There are more college graduates than ever entering the workplace, which means a degree is no longer a guarantee of a job; you need something more to help you stand out. The following are four things you can do before you graduate to get yourself on the right track.
- Think outside your major
According to the Washington Post, only 27% of graduates work in a field related to their major. It’s not surprising, since many majors leave you quite open career-wise, unless you get a specific vocational degree. Look at your college’s website and see if they have details of previous alumni from your degree, as this will give you some ideas about the sort of careers you could pursue. Make a list of your skills, both those learned in college and those from day to day and think about which jobs they might match.
- Get specialist career advice
Most colleges offer sessions with guidance counselors, which can be handy for general career advice. However, it’s often better to work with someone who has more specific knowledge. For example, there are people who specialize in career counseling for those in medical and legal careers, or you could see a business coach for women if you’re female and planning to launch a start-up. Career counseling isn’t just for those at the top of their fields; it’s helpful for those just starting out too.
- Start networking in college
When you’re in college, you’re around lots of other people who might potentially work in your chosen profession in future, so the connections you make before graduation can be very important. Some things you can do to network include:
- Going to college events on campus
- Check out relevant professional bodies and see if they have student memberships. You could even try to get an invite to their networking events
- Create a LinkedIn profile and start building those relationships
- Find extra-curricular groups related to your chosen profession and join them, networking with others who have similar interests
- Get experience now
While you may not think working part-time in a diner or store will be relevant to your future career, it shows potential employers that you’re hard-working, and gives you lots of transferable skills that you can show off on your resumé.
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Internships can also be a great way to give your resumé a bit of edge over the competition, and while they can often involve low pay and long hours, putting in the work can pay off later. A study showed that 65% of paid internships lead to a full-time job, compared to the 37% of people who are hired from outside of businesses for a role. Summer break is the most popular time to take an internship, but some employers offer part-time roles to college students, so you can fit in work experience around your studies.
It’s easy to feel disheartened when you see the statistics on graduate employment, but even before you graduate, there’s plenty you can do to make yourself more desirable in the job market and to plan for your future.