A College Student’s Guide to Turning a Degree into a Promising Career

Turn your degree into stress-free adulting.

Having a degree without experience is like having a car without an engine, it doesn’t go anywhere. The average college student graduates with over $30,000 in debt and working a minimum wage job isn’t going to pay the bills [1].

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but a degree alone doesn’t hold much value and straight A’s, as well as honors courses, don’t help you enter the workforce. Staying ahead of the game while enrolled in college is crucial if you want to turn your degree into the career of your dreams.

There are numerous ways that you can get the most out of your college experience including taking advantage of internships. Before applying for an internship, research job requirements for your major so you can have an idea of what you want to learn. Once you have locked in an internship opportunity, discuss the skills you would like to gain with your intern supervisor.

Getting an internship gives you the opportunity to test the waters of your future career by receiving real-life experience. The average college student will change their major at least three times before graduating, so give it a trial run before you commit to a degree program [2].

Another advantage of being an intern is that it gives you experience, which is something that employers are looking for when they hire new grads. You don’t have to be an expert in your field, but having experience on your resume also shows employers that you are not afraid to take initiative.

Having multiple internships under your belt can give you experience in multiple organizations. There are a variety of websites that have both virtual and local internship opportunities such as internship.com. You can also find internship opportunities through the career center representatives on your college campus. When interning it is important to note the different things that you are learning while it is still fresh, so you can add it to your resume.

Creating a LinkedIn page with a professional headshot is a wonderful way to help you start your journey to a career. It allows you to update your profile with any experience that you gain in your internship and skills that you possess that make you hirable. The social network also features a job search tool and some postings allow you to apply straight from LinkedIn.

Networking is also important because it gives you the opportunity to meet individuals that are veterans in your industry. Don’t be afraid to email someone on LinkedIn to ask for some advice and guidance in their career field. Ask about job shadowing opportunities or if you can volunteer your time to help with a project they are doing to get some extra experience. This allows you to pick their brain and get some mentorship so you can grow in your field. It is important to acquaint yourself with people in your potential job arena because it’s not always about what you know, it’s about whom you know.

While you are in school you should also work with your career services department to help you put together a resume and cover letter. It is also beneficial to schedule a mock interview to help prepare you for your first adult job. When it starts to get close to your graduation, work with your career advisors to find job leads in your field.

Going to college and getting a degree can be a rewarding experience, but the real work begins outside of the classroom and the return on investing time in preparing yourself for the workforce is worth the labor.

[1] Student Loan Hero https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/

[2]University of La Verne https://sites.laverne.edu/careers/what-can-i-do-with-my-major/

Originally published at medium.com

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