Congratulations! You’ve finished your first year of college. Although you have effectively conquered your freshman year, your second year is an equally important time in your professional development. Use these tips during the upcoming academic year to ensure success.
1. If you have not done so already, confirm you major and career goals.
There are simple things you can do to discover your passion. Complete a career inventory to identify the top occupations that coincide with your interests. Speak with or shadow professionals in the occupations you are considering. If you have any hesitancy about your goals, now is the time to seek assistance. Stop by your campus career center for additional information.
2. Meet with your advisor to map out your plan of study.
This will help you identify if it is possible to study abroad, double major or minor in another area of interest. Choose elective courses to enhance your skills and increase your marketability.
3. Pursue academic excellence.
More than three out of four respondents to a Job Outlook Survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that they screen candidates by grade point average (GPA). Jump-start the new school year by visiting with your academic advisor or the academic success center on your campus. These learning specialists can help you develop effective study skills that will improve your efficiency, time management and retention of information.
4. Conduct a mock professional job search.
Complete a mock job search to identify the qualifications you will need in the future. Graduation will be here before you know it. You won’t have time later to gain any additional experience that employers require. Browse the job listings on commercial job search engines to understand the qualifications of the future positions you aspire to hold. O*Net and the Occupational Outlook Handbook will help you identify essential knowledge, skills and abilities. Establish professional goals to ensure your ability to satisfy these requirements.
5. Begin to build your professional wardrobe.
Doing so over time will be more enjoyable and affordable. While it might not be exciting to get dress pants for your birthday, you will be glad you did when you secure your first professional job or internship.
6. Gain relevant work experience.
Obtain a part-time job, summer employment or volunteer position that directly relates to your future career. This will couple your strong academic background with hands-on practical experience, while also permitting you to confirm your major and expand your network. Many employers also expect new hires to have experience. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed employers in 2012 to assess which factors were influential in hiring decisions. Of the responding organizations, nearly 75% stated that they preferred candidates with relevant experience.
7. Participate in co-curricular activities.
Look for leadership opportunities in student organizations, student government, service learning teams and residence life.
8. Do something to professionally stretch yourself.
Present at a conference. Write a blog post. Enroll in a difficult or challenging course. Complete a research project. Although these activities may initially be uncomfortable, the development they provide is beneficial.
9. Build your network.
Join a professional association in your field. Attend a conference or participate in a webinar. Create a profile on LinkedIn, the world’s largest virtual professional network. Connect with the recruiters at an organization that interests you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or at regional job fairs. This will help you learn more about their work environment and opportunities. Many colleges also offer alumni mentor programs. Stop by your campus career center for more details about these opportunities.
10. Create a resume to document your activities.
As the end of your sophomore year approaches, reflect on the year and note your accomplishments. Swing by your campus career center for a personal critique of your resume and additional assistance with your career planning.
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