When you are in high school, no one tells you that the path you choose in college is going to have ramifications for the rest of your life. Sure, people tell you to study hard and get into a good college, but they don’t really tell you what you are supposed to do once you are there. While some people think that college is all about having fun and spending your parents’ money, it’s actually supposed to be about learning the things that will help you continue to learn and grow as a human being, from how to use a library all the way to how to choose jobs and career paths. Unfortunately, some people aren’t getting the message and instead of planning for their next move, they are focusing on getting through midterms so they can go on spring break. If you’re in college now, it’s time to start planning for your future.
Contrary to popular belief, the major you choose in college has a lot less to do with your success rate than you would imagine. While things like science, technology, and engineering degrees are very useful right now, especially if you want to do something like design solar grids or electric cars, the engineering problems of today will soon be solved and you’ll need the flexibility to retool your skills often.
Employers actually value liberal arts degrees more than most television pundits would have you believe. Soft skills and the ability to learn, grow, and adapt are far more valuable in the job market over the course of your career thanks to the critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills you will learn.
Once you have chosen a college and a major, the next step is not to graduate in four years, but rather it is to start working to prepare for what happens after graduation. You’ll need to build your network and your LinkedIn profile, polish up your online presence, and start looking for internships. The internships you choose will give you valuable real-life experience in a field that you choose, and in many cases, your internship may lead to part-time employment while you are in school or even potentially full-time employment after you graduate.
When you start looking into internship and career path possibilities, attend a job fair to learn what’s out there. Talk to a career counselor at your school. Start to ask for letters of reference from your professors to keep on file throughout the process. Keep your best work in an online portfolio so you have it all ready to show when someone asks for it and you don’t have to leave them waiting around while you panic and throw something together. Knowing the possibilities and being prepared for them can take you a long way toward your ultimate goals.
If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd in the job market, you’ll have to start early. Learn more about the steps you need to take during college to get your career started on the right foot below.
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