We are now well into late stages of the college semester and the traditional May graduation time period. So, it seems like an appropriate moment to discuss the preparation that college students should be doing (right now) to prepare for their post-graduation lives.
I recently came across a survey named “The Great Disconnect”. This survey contained almost 10,000 participants, with the majority being college students and the remainder consisting of recent employed and unemployed graduates. A whopping 1/3rd of respondents stated that they were “very unclear” regarding what to do to prepare for future career success.
The “To Do” list of a college student preparing for their career is actually one grounded in common sense. Let’s take a look at what you can do in preparation, knowing that the earlier you start the better, but it is never too late.
• Start Early But It Is Never Too Late – A recurring theme is going to be that the earlier you start in your college career planning for graduation employment, the better you will be. It is, however, important to note that regardless of how deep you are in your college career, conducting preparation work can be beneficial. You only need to get started and begin to place some effort into it.
• Go Beyond Your Faculty and Career Centers – This is not meant to be a knock against either of those two sources for networking. You should absolutely use both of these options but take the time to go beyond them. Your school career center and/or faculty will only connect you with those that actively work with them. This leaves the vast majority of the marketplace untouched by your current outreach. In today’s world, it is so much easier to self-network, as there are many social events that a person can attend. Review the upcoming industry or general business events that you should go to, in order to build awareness in you. Current business social media also makes it much easier to connect with influential people at key companies. A good network will help you immensely in terms of learning about openings and finding out more information about prospective employers you are interested in.
• Attend Targeted Events – There will be on-campus employer events and off-campus training sessions or Career Fairs to consider attending. Try to take in as many of these as you can, but do not allow it to impact your schoolwork. These can prove to be great for both networking and knowledge gathering. You can also consider placing specific training events on your resume.
• Don’t Dismiss Your Experience – Unless you are someone who is returning to college after working full-time in the workforce, you have somewhat limited experience. It is important not to self-diminish the general work experience you have obtained. This could also be from a company internship that you have completed. All of this builds your profile as someone who can be trained, is reliable, and isn’t afraid to work. These traits are highly coveted by employers and easily transferrable, especially for more entry-level jobs. You can then climb the ladder once you are in the door and your accomplishments start to open up internal opportunities for you.
• Throw a Wide Net for Skills Obtained – Many college students have a treasure chest of obtained skills that are not directly tied to any employment. Take a moment and reflect on your time at your college, and you will most likely note other activities (whether it be athletic, or club related) that should be identified. The skills learned whether that be in a leadership role, working as a team, or becoming a deeper expert on a subject may draw the interest of your prospective employer. If you are still a year or more away from graduation, then it will be beneficial to see what you can get involved in. Focus on a team or committee that will enhance your current skill set.
• Charitiable Work Counts – It has almost become a given for recent graduate hires to have some extensive charitable volunteer experience. If you currently do not have this to share with a Recruiter, then it is never too late to volunteer. The commitment will be rewarding to you, assist the charity, and look good on the Resume.
Graduating from college should not be a scary event, but rather an exciting next step in a person’s career. A key to making this happen is to properly prepare (in advance) for your post-student life. By doing what is needed (while many of your peer’s flounder), you are placing yourself in a terrific position for career success.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein