When you’re a sophomore in college sitting in the library until 3 a.m. cramming for your biology test, you aren’t probably considering whether or not you are doing everything possible to set yourself up for success post-grad. However, the sooner you start planning, the better results you will have. Here are 6 factors you should be considering (ideally as soon as you step foot on campus) to set yourself up for success at the end of your college years.
Your network is possibly the most important factor when it comes to applying to jobs. You’ve probably heard it before and are likely to hear it again: it’s all about who you know. Employers are going to trust people’s personal recommendations over a piece of paper that lists your accomplishments. With that being said, the sooner you start building your network, the stronger it will be. In college, you have available to you an abundance of people who are extremely well-versed in the field you are hoping to go into. Your professors are not only great sources for information and knowledge, but they themselves are an excellent addition to your network and it is likely they can set you up with others in your field.
While different majors and areas of interest review extracurricular activities differently, it has been found that participation in extracurriculars generally results in a 5-15% increase in the student’s ability to get a good job after graduation. Academic student organizations and Greek Life were two extracurriculars in particular that often affected how likely students were to get a good job.
Professional opportunities include things such as internships, season jobs, or even volunteer opportunities. Any working experience you can get, especially if it’s related to your field of interest, will help you develop skills you will need later in your career. This is also another good way to expand your network. You can also create your own opportunities by creating a photography business or an Etsy shop for something you create. The “go-getter” trait that this type of venture would demonstrate is something that is often highly valued in the workplace.
Most schools have a good amount of career resources, but these resources can sometimes be elusive or not well advertised. Also, sometimes students just don’t realize the importance of utilizing them. However, you have, at your convenience, a huge career development resource and you should take advantage of it.
If you’re applying to jobs in a place where jobs in your specific field are few and far between, chances are you won’t be very successful. Alternatively, if you apply to jobs where there is a large demand for people in your field you may see more success. However, moving from college to a career can be a tough transition and you want to be in an environment where you feel comfortable and are around people your age. A recent study found that the best college towns to start a career after college are Notre Dame, IN; Kingston, RI; and Morehead, KY. This was based on a series of factors such as the job market, climate, culture, infrastructure, financial environment and how many people are in a similar stage of their life as a recent college grad.
One of the aforementioned studies found that students who began their job search 6 months to a year before their graduation were 10% more likely to land a job they were happy with, while people were 15% more likely to get a good job if they began looking over a year in advance of their graduation. It never hurts to start early, but it could hurt you if you’re behind the curve.
Graduating from college and transitioning into a career can be tough. The job search, however, can be even tougher. Luckily there are methods that are tried and true to make the search a little easier and a little less stressful.