As a college student, it’s normal to assume that the best thing to do is to focus all your energy on getting good grades and graduating with your degree. However, I’m here to tell you that solely focusing on your GPA is not going to cut it. While a degree will certainly help your case, a study by the Harvard Business School found that 37% of employers put more premium on relevant work experience than educational attainment.
You want to start focusing on your career as early as now, even as a student. Here are four things that you can do that will help make you more employable even before you graduate.
A lot of college students get part-time jobs as a way to make ends meet. But even if you don’t need the extra cash, you should still try to get one for the experience. Any role will do, whether it’s a part-time waiting staff for your local coffee chain or an internship at the bank. I would even check in with the university to see if they’re looking for student assistants or teaching assistants.
If you can get a part-time role that’s directly related to your degree and dream job, then you’re golden. It will look good on your resume and if you do well enough, the company you’re interning for might even hire you full-time after you graduate.
But if it’s not, it’s still worthwhile doing because it’s an excellent way to develop transferable skills such as customer service, problem-solving, and adaptability. Holding down a part-time role, especially while juggling academic activities as a college student also demonstrates to recruiters your time management skills – a quality that all employers want to see in their candidates.
The best part about being in college is the freedom to choose what you want to study and do. So you should use this time to explore your interests and try as many things as possible. Maybe try out for the football team, sign up for the college paper, or audition for the theater club.
Go pursue whatever it is that you’re interested in, even if it’s not at all related to your degree. You’ll have these memories for life, plus you’ll have broadened your horizons and built a network of friends, mentors, and potential professional contacts. With the job market as competitive as it is, you’ll want to have as much experience and connections in as many fields as possible.
Networking is a must-have skill to succeed in any field. The good thing is that by being in college, you’re already exposed to so many events to practice. A lot of companies and organizations host recruitment events and job fairs right on your campus, making it easier to interact with industry professionals and learn about potential career paths.
Another underrated option is to network with your professors. Try to get past the initial discomfort by remembering that besides being educators, they are also experts in their fields. They’ve already spent years gaining extensive industry knowledge, research experience, and a network of their own, which you’ll want to tap into. I guarantee that they’ll have so much to share with you, if only you ask.
Speaking of professors, you could ask them if they’re hiring! This one’s not for everybody, as not every student may be inclined to pursue research work. But if your university is one of those schools with a strong emphasis on research, then it’s definitely worth considering.
Engaging in research work not only allows you to delve deep into a particular subject area but also provides you with the opportunity to build lasting professional relationships with your professors and other researchers. Depending on your contributions and the significance of the research, some professors may even list you as a co-author on academic papers, which is a noteworthy achievement for your academic and professional portfolio.
It’ll definitely look good in your resume, and portrays you as a curious individual able to work in a team, manage complex projects, and think innovatively – all qualities that are high on every employer’s list. Good luck out there!
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