Whether you’re about to graduate in a couple weeks or you have a few semesters ahead of you, there are lots of things you can do to get started on your career.
I know I know, you want to enjoy your days at school while you can without having to worry about the “real world” that lies ahead.
You don’t have to devote all of your free time to developing your career. There are little things that you can get started on now, that will pay off dividends after you graduate.
Want to get your career off to a good start after you graduate? Here are some tips.
- Plant your seeds. If you’re not sure where to get started networking, just look around you. You’re surrounded by future professionals (classmates) and seasoned vets (professors). You also have a huge network of active professionals (alumni). Sign up for Linked In, and start connecting with EVERYONE that you know. You never know when a simple Linked In connection could lead to a big opportunity. Here, you can start by connecting with me.
- Participate in projects. There are tons of things you can do around campus that will look great to future employers and will give you some great experience. Start writing for the college newspaper. Or better yet, start your own as a blog! Start communities for students in the same position as you. Just start something. If you fail, who cares…? You’ll learn a ton and it will look a lot better on your resume than whatever other crap we tend to fill that POS paper with.
- Attend events. Have you met Patrick Johnson? No? Well there are a ton of PR professionals who do because the kid is at every conference he can make it too. Think you can’t afford it? Guess again. Most conferences have student discounts, and pretty much ALL conferences take volunteers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazingly prominent professionals by volunteering at conferences. Usually how it works is you work for half the conference, and the other half you can do what you want. Start shaking hands.
- Join communities. There are hundreds of communities online for professionals. You can find them on Linkedin, twitter, facebook, and niche social networks. I got started in my career by joining 20 Something Bloggers and Brazen Careerist. Just join them and start asking questions. Professionals respect a student that’s taking the initiative to get out there and learn.
- Start writing. Whether it’s for your blog, for someone else’s blog, in your own private notebook…whatever. Writing will help you learn and grow as a professional.
- Establish mentorships. It’s not something you can just set up usually. By participating in communities, attending events, and networking, you’ll start to build stronger relationships with professionals. Email them. Ask them for skype chats. Ask questions. When you dive off the college cliff into the rapids of the real world, a mentor can be your life vest. (Take that home…chew on it).
- Ignore me and do whatever you want. These tips are what worked for me. They may or may not work for you. If you have the motivation to kick off your career right, just do. The first and biggest thing I’ve learned since graduating is that the doers will flourish. No matter what I, or anyone else tells you, you just have to do what you think will work for you. Just do.
Do you have any more tips for college students? If you’re a college student, do you have any questions?