Wondering how to avoid unemployment after college? Your future career depends on one person—you. Here’s what you can do to set yourself up for success.
I’m a keynote speaker, and every fall, I take off on a college tour, speaking on campuses all around the nation. And every year, my primary objective is to make sure first-years know this one thing: What you do, starting today, is what will determine whether you graduate college with a job lined up.
So: Here are my 8 tips to help first-year students spend the next four years preparing to graduate with a diploma in one hand and a job offer in the other.
1. Work the job you want after college during college.
When you start looking for jobs in four years, employers are going to be concerned about one thing: your resume. Start getting the experience you need from day one. Even if it isn’t the job you ultimately want, find a part-time position or an internship that will allow you to build the skills needed for your dream job.
2. Get to know your professors.
These individuals have been in the field a lot longer than you, and they know a lot more people who can help you to achieve your goals. Go to your professors for advice and guidance, and they will be your advocates.
3. Practice showing up.
In the real world, you don’t get to sleep in through a meeting, so don’t train yourself in college to think it’s okay to sleep in through a class. Your education is your job right now. Are you treating it that way?
4. Go for internships.
They may not pay, but the experience you will receive will be invaluable when you are applying for jobs in the future.
5. Shadow as often as you can.
Students frequently change majors or leave their program because they aren’t sure whether it’s something they’ll like doing in the real world. Don’t wait until last semester of senior year to decide you hate your major—call and ask to shadow someone who is on your desired career path to gain insight and a new friend in the field.
6. Remember why you’re here.
College is the most flexible time of your life. You have few responsibilities to others and you are completely in control of your schedule. You get to decide how you spend the 20 hours a day that you’re not in class. Will you spend it building towards your future or playing video games?
7. Go to FedEx Office and have business cards printed.
Include your name, interests, and contact information. You can use this throughout college so that every time you meet someone you want to stay in touch with professionally, you look official and organized.
8. Be a leader.
Every company is looking for strong leaders, but the only way you can become one is through practice. Become the editor of the school paper, the captain of a team, or run for student government. If you can’t find a position that interests you on campus, start your own club, and know that future employers will see you as an innovative self-starter.
Your future career depends on one person, and it’s not your future employer. It’s you. Start thinking about the dream job today, so that tomorrow, it’s not just a dream—it’s your reality.
Oh, and I have an amazing gift for you: To access the 7 game-changing things I tell students at New Student Orientation, click here.
For more advice on how to win at college and post-college life, check out my book Keys to Success in College and Life.
As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.