Boredom, hard work and fun – that is what most students think about the time they spend in college. It’s difficult to think about preparing for a future career when the most pressing issue is whether or not to study for a test or prep for extracurricular activities. The truth is that to be successful after graduation, the time to prepare for a career is while still in school. Here is a timeline to get started:
Freshman and sophomore years
While none of the college years should be considered “throw away” years, if you had to pick the two years with the greatest flexibility, these would be the two. The focus during the freshman and sophomore years should be on learning the basics, such as Math, English and Science. Spend the first two years getting the required basic courses out of the way.
Near the beginning of the sophomore year, begin to give some thought as to possible careers. Spend some time doing research and talking to be people working in your chosen profession. It’s better to find out your freshman or sophomore year that you faint at the sight of blood and nursing is not for you, rather than waiting until senior year to find out just how squeamish you really are.
This is where reality should start to set in. Classes will become more difficult and grades are going to become even more important. Why? Your hands-on work experience will be minimal compared to other job applicants. Employers will look at your academic record and activities to determine whether or not you will be a fit for the organization. Junior year is also a good time to start networking and developing relationships with college professors, especially the ones who are teaching courses in your chosen field. If there any organizations you belong too, this would be an excellent year to run for office.
Make plans for senior year courses. Make sure the plan includes courses relevant to your chosen career.
Final year – Senior Year
This is going to be the most important year of all. All of your hard work leading up to and beyond to graduation will become vital. Hopefully your senior year courses are “career rich.” Start interacting with the career counseling office; make sure they have your transcripts on file. They can get you started on preparing a resume.
Set up a personal network. Sometimes getting a job isn’t about what you find in the papers. It’s about who you know. Your network should include college professors, any visiting speakers that came to the class and the peers in the same career path.
Start attending job fairs. Attending job fairs is valuable. First, you get to perfect what will become your thirty second elevator speech. Second, you will have the opportunity to see what’s out there. Many college campuses will have job fairs right on site.
These days it is important to attend college with an end goal in mind. Prepare to get ahead of the game.