Below is a list of experiences recent grads identified as being helpful in their job search. I’ve added the comments following each item. Consider how you will find these experiences during your college years; thinking about what you need to acquire can help you focus on finding a college that best suits your needs.
From the National Career Development Association
1. I had at least one professor at [college] who made me excited about learning. You will find the variation in teaching style and in the material presented. Find at least one professor who makes you want to get to class early, who encourages you to visit outside of office hours. Ask for recommendations from your friends or other professors.
2. My professor(s) at [college] cared about me as a person. Smaller colleges have an advantage in creating relationships between students and professors but it is equally possible at large universities although it takes more initiative on your part. Show up, ask questions, speak in class. Show you care about your work and you will go a long way toward having professors care about you as an individual.
3. I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams. Mentors come in many flavors and from many places. It could be your advisor, an employer, someone in the career you are pursuing. Look for people who can help you, teach you, help you grow your network in the right directions. Mentoring comes with responsibilities to be useful to your mentor, too.
4. I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete. Long term project, either, academic or job-related, help you bring together a variety of skills and show how pieces fit together. In developing your project you establish goals, way-points, benchmarks, and outcomes. All are very useful in the real work force.
5. I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom. This goes without saying. Even if you aren’t required to complete an internship you should attempt as many as you can fit into your schedule. Most grads are hired by the internship provider of from networking done during the internship.
6. I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while I attended [college]. From orientation until graduation you should be deeply involved in campus life. Join lots of clubs or sports in your first semester. Go to the meetings to see if you like what the group is about and enjoy the people you meet. You can drop the ones that don’t serve you and go all-in with the others. You will be happier than if you don’t make the effort. Clubs, sports, activities and a campus job are easy forms of networking!
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