Our college years are supposed to be some of the best of our lives. But it can be difficult to balance classes and extracurricular activities while also attempting to land an internship or job. Whether a freshman or senior, here are a few things you can be doing in college to jump-start your career.
1. Get Involved
Use your time in college wisely. Sell yourself as a versatile individual – join clubs and organizations that not only appeal to you, but help your resume (and essentially you) stand out among applicants. Getting involved on campus is a great way to express your strengths and talents.
2. Get Organized
Time management is a crucial skill employers seek for in applicants. Keeping yourself organized will help you stay on top of all of your tasks!
3. Network, Network, Network
Liz Wessel wrote an article for Forbes that discussed what she believed were The 5 Best Ways to Network While You’re Still In College to help “build an effective set of relationships that will support you throughout your career.” Wessel states that “the connections [she] made in college have been instrumental in [her] post-grad life, including starting [her] own company.” She suggests reaching out to people you don’t know, coining it “cold emailing.” Wessel states that although it is intimidating, most people want to help others. She gives her own success story of “cold emailing,” in which she landed an internship by reaching out to someone she didn’t know while she was a college student.
One other critical suggestion Wessel had for networking while in college was building relationships with professors. When it comes time to apply for Grad/Vet/Med school and/or jobs, odds are you’re going to be asked for one, if not a couple, letters of recommendation. Professors and advisors are a great resource, and are able to vouch for your personal, academic, and professional qualities. Begin cultivating and maintaining professional relationships early in order to save yourself stress in the future.
4. Build a Solid Foundation on LinkedIn
College is the time to establish your LinkedIn. Connect with your classmates – you never know who you’ll run into down the road, and you never know when your classmate might be the one conducting your interview. Better yet, they might even be the one giving the final word on whether or not you’re hired.
In addition to establishing your LinkedIn, update it regularly. Join a new club or organization? Update your LinkedIn – club and organization involvement is a good indication to employers that you are well-versed and able to manage commitments. Start a new job? Update your LinkedIn. Employers and recruiters are constantly searching and viewing profiles – make sure yours is worth reading!
5. Start Your Search Early
Start figuring out life after college now – I cannot stress this enough! It is never too early to begin your internship or job search. Employers begin searching for candidates as early as a year before the position opens. For example, it is currently September of 2018 - Fall Semester has just started – yet, internship opportunities for Summer 2019 are already accepting applications. Therefore, stay ahead of the game – start your search and apply early!
6. Lastly, take it from me – be open to opportunities that aren’t “what you want”
Last semester I had the opportunity to work for an amazing company at The Quarter Horse Congress. A month-long horse show held in October every year, and better known as, “The Congress,” it is the largest single breed horse show in the world – and it takes place right here in Columbus, Ohio. As an equestrian, I have purchased from Noble Outfitters for years. With their commitment to strong customer relationships and exceptional value, the job posting appealed to me and I was interested in having the opportunity to promote their brand and be a part of their team, even if it was just for a few short weeks. At the time, I was on a Pre-Vet track and hesitant to apply because the job description as a brand promoter and representative didn’t quite “line up” with my major. But, I submitted an application anyways, and boy, was I thankful.
I learned a few lessons over the course of four weeks working for Noble Outfitters. Two of these lessons stand out to me the most: First, I learned to be more confident in my abilities. You cannot be successful if you do not believe in yourself. Believe in yourself and you’re halfway there. Second, being a part of the Noble Outfitters’ Street Team and experiencing first-hand marketing, I found a new interest I never would have known existed had I not taken advantage of the opportunity. In addition, I began exploring alternative majors that could combine my lifetime passion for horses with my newfound interest of marketing. It was then that my current major, Agribusiness and Applied Economics, fell into my lap – and the rest is history.
At the end of my four weeks, I left with the realization that you have to be open to opportunities that aren’t “what you want.” We live in a world of competition, and you have to accept the fact that you’re not always going to get “that” internship or job. It is in these times, the times when you get knocked down, that you get back up, dust yourself off, and accept what is in front of you. When one door closes, a window opens – and the opportunities through that window might just be the ones you learn the most from.
Victoria Jenkins is a Junior majoring in Agribusiness and Applied Economics and minoring in Communications. She is an Account Associate for the University Marketing and Cazuela’s team at The PRactice. Victoria hopes to pursue law school after graduation, and a career within The Department of Agriculture.