I’ve seen memes like this floating around the internet. I read comments of people saying how much their degree didn’t do them much good, and all they ended up with was debt and fancy paper to put on the wall.
I know how frustrating it must be to put in so much work to get a degree, only to not have much to show for it at the end. Yea you graduated, but now what? Suddenly you don’t have enough experience to qualify for any of the jobs in your field. But how are you suppose to do that if no one will hire you to help you get experience? It’s the weirdest unbreakable cycle that you feel lost in.
But really the problem where a LOT of people go wrong is that they think that all they have to do when they’re in school is just go to school, and go home or work. Once they get a degree, everything is suppose to just fall into their lap.
That’s not how this work.
At least not anymore.
Maybe it USE to be that way but it most certainly isn’t like that now.
So if you’re still in college and you’re starting to panic of if you will actually get a job after graduation, I URGE you to do a few of the things I list here to put yourself in a better position for life after college.
Get a leadership position in a student organization and excel in it.
Ok hear me out. Companies love to hear that you have leadership experience PLUS a lot of those experiences you have as a president of this club or a committee chair in that club can be used in behavior based interviewing questions that will be used. If you led community service for your club and was able to raise $5,000 for a nonprofit, that shows you can bring results to reach revenue goals. If you were a tour guide that helped during freshman orientation where you interacted with various students of all different backgrounds and walks of life to help them feel comfortable, that shows that you’re open to diversity and inclusion of others. If you was president where you lead a team of 12 to get various events and projects done in a group, that shows great leadership, delegation, and communication skills. See where I’m going with this? So get involved in a variety of things and go hard at it so that you’ll have experience to draw from when they interview you.
2. Get an internship.
You need experience. Internships gives you experience while you’re still in college. In fact academic internships will not only give you experience, but it’ll also get you college credit. That’s a win win! Find organizations that will allow you to get experience in your field via an internship. If they don’t have a posting for one at the time, call their HR department anyway and inquire if they have any coming up. It never hurts to ask. That experience can give you the nudge you need on your resume, and you can rub elbows with people that can help you get your foot in the door with a job right after college. I saw this happen a lot with people I knew in college that had something waiting for them just because they did an internship. And even if they can’t offer you a job at the moment, keep your connections alive with them. They can be great references, or they can be sure to remember you later to bring you on when something does become available.
This happened with me as I had an internship while I was in grad school for two semesters that gave me credit hours. I learned a lot, and my team loved me so much that they created an entry level position just to get me on the team. Talk about feeling wanted! I’m so grateful that I did that internship. Best decision I ever made.
Ok I hate networking but I swear the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and who knows you” is SOOO TRUE. I got my first full time job because I knew someone who working in HR of the company I worked at. I never had to struggle with giving references because I formed good relationships with university staff that could vouch for my ambition and work ethic. I had professors that loved me enough to write fantastic letters of recommendation for me. Rub elbows not just with people you meet in organizations but at your school. See if the company of your dreams have events that students can attend to network or gain experience. Network with your professors. Network with advisers. Network with your own college peers! Think about it. You’re surrounded by other people who are determined to make something of themselves in a variety of different fields. Who knows when you may need them in the future? Get involved in organizations to get to know these future leaders. Network with as many people as you possibly can because the very connection you need make come from the most random person.
4. Join associations that are related to your field.
I design e-learning for a profession and do a lot of stuff with technology and learning. So I’m a member of the Association of Talent Development. Practically every field out there has an association related to it where professionals can network with each other and learn more to further their career. Find out what associations are out there, join it, and get involved. A lot of them have discounted dues for students or would have you start a club on campus to represent them (see tip #1!). If you can’t find one specialized to your field, find a general one for young professionals like yourself. There’s always something out there you can be a part of.
5. Volunteer at a nonprofit.
I know, I know. You want PAID work. Or at least academic credit like a internship. Well trust me with this one. This particular tip blends 2 of the above tips. 1) Job experience. Find a nonprofit that needs your skills to help them. By helping them, you’re gaining job experience that you can put on your resume. 2) Networking. Hello? These are community leaders that you’re working with by volunteering your time. They can be great references when you need it. They may know people that can help you get a job. Rub those elbows! Get to know them. Be dedicated in your service. You can impress them to where they would love to help you in any way they can. Now of course, work with a nonprofit that you are passionate about their work so that you don’t come across fake but still just keep in mind that there are many great benefits that you can reap from your volunteer experience as well.
So those are my tips of what to do while you’re in college to align up something great for yourself after school. Trust me, you can’t just go to school and go home. You need to actively work outside of class time to get the job of your dreams. I did it and was able to get the job of my dreams at 25 that I can see myself retiring from. Not many people can say that, and I feel very blessed to have it. (high fives Jesus!) I urge you to try these tips. It may be hard to balance at times, but it’ll be so worth it so that you won’t feel like your degree was a complete waste of time.
Did I miss any tips or did any of these tips work out in your favor? If so, comment below!