If you head to college right after high school graduation, your focus for the next 4+ years probably isn’t going to be climbing the corporate ladder. Granted, you’ll work toward a major and learn how to do a specific job.
But, that doesn’t mean a career will be available to you immediately after graduation. College can offer a degree, but you’ll enter the working world with “entry-level” experience, which many employers don’t want.
So, what can you do to gain experience while you’re in school so you can kick off your career right away?
Immerse Yourself in the Collegiate Experience
One of the best ways to gain experience and get advice is to take advantage of all the services your college has to offer. Develop a close relationship with student services. It’s their job to not only get you through your collegiate career but help you prepare for the “real world.” They can assist you when it comes to things like resume writing so your job applications will pass things like automated applicant tracking systems.
Student services can also help with:
- Campus life and extra activities
- Mental and physical wellness
- Diversity on campus
- Alumni relations
Those functions can all help you gain more experience for a future job. Getting involved with activities and clubs on campus can help you gain experience in teamwork or leadership without having to work in an actual “job.” Plus, those who work in student services might be able to connect you with alumni in the industry you’re interested in.
Whether you’re getting your degree online or in-person, reach out to student services in an email or give them a call. Student services should be available to the entire student body.
Take a Part-Time Job
Many college students end up working part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, food, or off-campus housing. But, the right part-time job can actually be a great way to network. Having an internship in college is helpful, especially if it’s in the industry you’re interested in. But, internships don’t usually pay, and you may not get the hands-on experience you need if you’re just getting people coffee.
So, while there’s nothing wrong with waiting tables or working retail, try looking for a part-time job that will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll need for a long-term career. That could include working in an office, or even starting your own freelancing business on the side for writing, graphic design, or any other useful skill you want to grow. You could even start your own online business as a side hustle.
Even if you haven’t decided on your major, holding down any part-time job will let future employers know that you’re responsible and able to stick to a schedule, so it looks good on a resume.
Get Involved Locally
If you don’t want to work in college, consider volunteering either on campus or in the local community. While it won’t show up as work experience on a resume, sometimes life experience is more appealing to employers. Getting involved with an organization that matters to you will give you hands-on experience.
You’ll grow skills like:
Adding these skills and your volunteer experience to your resume could be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Landing a job after graduation isn’t just about having experience in a particular industry. It’s about having well-rounded skills and knowing how to market them. Keep these tips in mind to get the job you want after graduation, rather than sending out dozens of applications with nothing in return.
BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.