Change can be scary nevertheless it is necessary. I'm about to experience one of the most important changes in my life-transitioning from college to career. All I can think about lately is have I been given the tools I need to succeed in the real world? Am I prepared for this process? Eventually all college students will have to face this anxious time in their lives. In the past year I have dug deep to determine what I need to do in preparation to put the best foot forward in my career. In this time I have come to realize that there are a few very important aspects to launching your career, which are worth sharing with my fellow job seekers. These include gaining experience, having a well thought-out resume, and networking with current professionals.
First off, very few students have jobs that are actually related to their career field. Even if you currently work as a "professional" it's unlikely your current position is within the industry you so desire to work in.
Therefore, the more additional experience you can gain the better. Of course when I say experience I am referring to the dreaded internship. I know, I know, I've been there- "I have to work and between work and classes there is no time!" "I can't afford to work for free, I am a working student and have to support myself!" Let me be the first to tell you, I made the same excuses and guess what? I decided to face the music and find a way, which to my surprise there was a way! Do what you have to do to get an internship, whether that means working different hours to fit in an internship or not taking classes for a semester and extending your graduation date. Or instead, try working with non-profit organizations, as they tend to be more flexible with hours since you're volunteering your time. Whatever it takes work with a company / organization in a position that is related to your career field. This knowledge and experience will be invaluable on your resume.
In the job search we are essentially trying to sell ourselves. Your resume is the one-page summary of who you are and what you have to offer. When creating your resume include any and all experiences that are relevant to your growth as a professional. If you have no actual work experience use internships, volunteer experience, and leadership roles within clubs at school or in the community. Think deep about what is relevant within those roles. What did you learn or gain from them? How is this knowledge applicable to your career choice? Be sure to list all career-oriented capabilities. Keep in mind the more positive spin you put on your duties the more professional you will seem. Try searching resume-writing tips or, better yet, go to a resume workshop. Show your resume to anyone and everyone that you know in a respected position to receive feedback. The more constructive criticism you obtain the more you'll be able to improve upon it.
Speaking of people you know, we've all heard the phrase "it's all about who you know." While I don't believe that's always true, it definitely doesn't hurt! The more connections you have the more in-the-loop you are, so get out there and network! As an up-and-coming professional this is the most important time to do so. Chances are you don't know anyone in the industry yet and it would help you tremendously in your job search if you did. Therefore, search for opportunities to rub elbows with the big dogs through your school, through your club, or within the local community. An internship or non-profit opportunity is a great way to do so. Also, if your local area has an association related to your industry, which is not unusual, get involved! Most professionals are willing to spare some time for their industries' future advocates. Don't be shy, express interest, and get to know people. Networking may pay off sooner than expected!
Seeing as how graduation is vastly approaching I am appreciative that I gained this knowledge in advance enough to properly prepare for my transition into the career world. Luckily for me I have made the opportunity to gain experience, am still constantly improving my resume, and have explored many networking opportunities. I can only hope that this information is helpful to others in a similar position. Best of luck in your transition from college to career!