From College to Career: Five Ways to Plan for Future Success

From College to Career:  Five Ways to Plan for Future Success

College can be an exciting and overwhelming experience.  Many students embrace the new found freedom, social life and the challenges of academic endeavors.   However, few students understand how quickly the college experience will turn into a job hunt.  Many students regret not utilizing the college years to build the necessary credentials needed for career success.    Here is a step-by-step guide to make the most of college and to be well poised to launch a career post graduation.

  1.  Get involved.   Club participation is an essential element of college.  Not only will you make new friends, but both social, student government and professional campus organizations will enable you to build resume-friendly leadership and organizational skills.  Most universities and academic departments have club fairs and information sessions early each semester.  Seek out both “fun” clubs and also clubs that directly relate to your selected discipline or interest area.
  2. Get a job.  Financial need requires most college students to seek employment to help finance their education and expenses.  Work-study on campus or outside employment during college is a great way to show future employers you are responsible.  These contacts will also become great references for future professional opportunities.
  3. Get to know your professors.  Participate in class, visit them during office hours.  Regardless of your major or the courses you take, professors want to help you succeed.  Students who show intellectual curiosity and an eagerness to learn will gain the respect of their professors.  Plus, many professors have had careers and have connections outside of academia.  Take advantage of these under utilized professional resources!
  4. Good grades matter, but don’t focus on your G.P.A.   Always attack school work as if you are presenting it to a CEO, not just your professor.  Classroom experiences and projects are excellent professional portfolio materials.  Save writing samples, plans, web projects and presentations to show employers that you have skills applicable to your profession.
  5. Intern!   Most employers will not hire an entry level employee who has not interned.  Take advantage of department and university internship programs, career center training and job fairs.  Even better, many star students who intern get hired by their host company upon graduation.

College is a challenging and fun time of personal exploration and growth.    Setting goals and pursuing an action plan beyond academics is essential to achieving professional success after you earn your diploma.

Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. She serves as the M.A. in Professional Communication graduate program co-director, communication internship coordinator and advisor to the Student Public Relations Association. Prior to her faculty position, she held senior-level positions at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.  Visit her blog www.pr109.com or follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lorrabrownPR

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