Whether you are a bright-eyed freshman or a senior counting down the days until graduation, it’s never too late to learn the best techniques to prepare for the real world. And by real world, I mean the world outside of your dorms, where meal points disappear and your class schedule turns into a full-time work schedule.
When it’s time to transition from campus to career, students should understand that although a college degree can boost your earning potential and improve your resume, it is only a small part of the employment equation. Hiring managers look for applicants who not only have the skills necessary for the job, but also whether the applicant would be a good fit in their company culture. They look for professionalism, confidence, self-motivation and willingness to accept challenges. Many of these qualities aren’t a pre-requisite for your diploma, but are learned through practice and experience. Internships, volunteer work, part-time jobs and campus involvement are excellent ways to gain this experience. Students can learn these qualities quickly with this small, but life-changing technique – treat college as your first job. This doesn’t mean you should bypass all the tailgate parties and social outings, but utilize class time to its fullest advantage. Here are some examples:
- Go to class. Use class time to meet your fellow classmates, dress nicely and remember to exude positive body language. Be involved in class discussions to improve your communication and problem-solving skills.
- Meet your professors. Introduce yourself after class and take advantage of their office hours. In the professional world, professors can be viewed as your manager or mentor. Practice communicating with higher-up authorities to build your confidence. Professors will be impressed by your efforts!
- Turn in assignments on time. Use your time-management and organizational skills to hit those deadlines! Employers love knowing that you can plan and execute assignments within a given time frame.
- Use group projects to practice leadership and teamwork. Group work is a great way to learn how different students interact within a project. Who is the leader? Who is the researcher? Who is the presenter? Build up your critical skills of problem solving and decision-making. This translates directly into different management styles during employment.
- Learn to love a challenge. Employers love to see applicants tackle a challenge head-on. Don’t be afraid to take a difficult course or audition for a bigger part in the university musical. When you come out on top, your confidence will skyrocket and you can use that to your advantage when you start your career.
You have four years to learn as much as possible in order to succeed beyond graduation. Treat college like your first job, and your efforts will propel you into an amazing career!