A growing trend is that those who are college educated are having trouble finding employment after graduation. It is not that a college education is less in demand, because a bachelor’s degree is like the new high school diploma in this day and age. It is that many employers are starting to want education AND experience. For many college graduates they find themselves working in an unrelated field just to find a job AND are often underpaid. As a person who has obtained a couple degrees AND has always gotten a job in a field in which I obtained my degrees. Here are my tips that will help you prepare for your career in college.
Work for It.
There are a few ways that you can work during college. The key is not the money, but the key is working a job in the field that you want to go in. Each work opportunity bring different pros and cons. So let’s go over them shall we.
I talked about work study on “how to fund your college blog” (click here to read). Work-study is typically awarded through financial aid. It is where the college assigns you a job, typically in the field you want to study, and you get paid minimum wage or close to. The pro is that you get some type of money as oppose to no money. A con can be that work-study job are not always in the field you want to study depending on the college and if they can place you. Which if they place you at in the school dining hall and you are not studying culinary, then that is a pointless work-study and will not help you career wise. The key to getting a good job in your field after college is you want experience in the field you want to go into. Therefore, this can be a hit or miss.
An internship can come in several ways. The first is that there are often several companies that are hiring for interns. In these situations, you will be responsible for finding and applying for these on your own. The college in which you attend can also place you with an internship that is typically in your field. An internship can be either paid or unpaid. In addition, the unpaid part is obviously the con of an internship. A pro, is that usually an internship is in a field that you are looking to go into. An even better pro, is that often companies hire their interns on after they graduate. The reason is because they are invested in you. They have trained you and you know how things work. So why hire someone else when they can just hire you! Also as an additional tidbit, many internship occur over the summer or over school breaks. Consider those as well.
Volunteering can bring you a number of opportunities. I am sure this is common sense but you do not get paid for volunteering. But what you can get out of it is invaluable. The key to volunteering is you want to volunteer with organizations that are in your field.
The first pro of volunteering is networking. You want to meet people. You want to meet people that can give you a job. Plus you want to volunteer at organizations that you may hire you when they have an opening, after you graduate. Like the internship, why hire a stranger, when you have been volunteering for them? They would rather hire someone they know that is familiar with their process and organization. Even if a volunteering company does not hire you, this is experience in the field that you can always put on your resume.
In college is can be beneficial to join certain sororities, fraternities, or clubs on campus. Many Sororities and Fraternities are not just about partying. They often have keynote speakers come and speak to the group and they often stay connected with alumnae Greek members that own their own business or are supervisors at organizations and are just dying to give jobs to other members of their organization. The same can go for clubs. In my master’s program. I was a member of the National Counseling Honor Society. As a member, I was invited to events in my field and certain opportunities were afforded to members of the organization. You want to attend these events so that you can meet people who can give you a job. Notice the theme here. It is about getting yourself out there.
More than anything, you can put certain clubs and organizations on your resume when you graduate to help you stand out from the pack.
I should say that with all of the working, volunteering, and networking. Make sure you do a GOOD JOB. No one will offer a job to someone that is lazy and does a half behind job. Work hard and do not complain and opportunities will come to you.
Your Last Year in College
The information above you want to do as soon as possible when you enter college. Your last year is when things really get real.
During you last year you want to:
- Build and portfolio. This may not be true for all majors. But if you are in art or graphic design and they require to see your body of work. You want to start collecting some of the best work that you did in school or create your own work to build your portfolio.
- Start researching jobs. Research jobs in your area and in other areas. If you want to get into fashion, you may have to move to a bigger city for that. You want to know the starting salary of jobs, the requirements, and the cost of living for apartments in case you have to move.
- Reach out to your contacts. All the contacts that you made from the ways above. Reach out to them, send them your resume to see if they are hiring. Talk to the organizations you volunteer for, internships or work and express your plans to stay with them long term after you graduate. You want to talk about a full time job, with benefits, and a salary.
- Start applying for jobs. Believe it or not, it takes a long time to get a job. Many jobs will allow you to apply if you are about to graduate. I would say start doing this in your last 6-9 months. Because it can take a while for the interview process to start and they can always keep your information on file when you graduate.
Okay that is all the information I have. I am confident that through following these steps, you will not be an unemployed college graduate for long.
Here are some suggested reading to help you out even more. (Contains affiliate links).