We put together some basic and helpful advice on what students should be doing while in college to set themselves up for job opportunities when they graduate. Now as you begin your senior--or junior--year, here are some of our top tips:
Internships. Get an internship as early as possible. This provides you the opportunity to learn about yourself and career paths that interest you. I thought I wanted to be an accountant as a freshman in college. After taking an accounting internship, I quickly realized I enjoyed the analysis of numbers but the actual job was not going to be a fit for my personality.
Employers want candidates that have professional experience because it makes the transition from college to the workplace easier for both you and the employer. As a recruiter, I will almost always interview candidates that have multiple internships over those that have a 4.0 GPA but no internship experience. Real-world experience adds more value than good grades alone.
Internships help students develop basic business acumen that cannot be taught in class – things such as communicating via e-mail appropriately, understanding organizational structure and meeting etiquette – simple but important skills that will immediately provide you with great confidence. Visit your career services office early and often, as there are internships available with a variety of organizations. The career counselors can help you identify potential opportunities that might not be posted online.
Get Exposure to Business and Technology. One challenge we face within the G10 Associates program when hiring new college graduates is helping them understand the role of technology in business. Business Analysts need to understand the basics of how a project moves through the software development lifecycle, and conversely, Software Developers need to understand that business often dictates the programs and tools they are building.
If you are a business major, take one or two classes that can expose you to technology. If you are in a Computer Science or Software Engineering program, take a few business courses to get a basic understanding of the business world. This will help you to better understand your team and help you to quickly ramp up when working in a BA, PM or Development role.
Get Involved. On-campus groups are a great way to build your network and leadership skills. This is also a way to get experience or exposure to diverse fields. If you are an Economics major interested in IT, you can easily join an IT group and learn from your peers.
On-campus involvement also demonstrates a level of ambition that we seek from our new college graduates, and experiences such as managing a group’s website or leading a fundraiser can make you a more appealing hire.
Almost every college and university has student-run groups that you can join. As a recruiter, I look for people that want to learn, grow and develop their skills; this is a great way to demonstrate that.
Career Services. GO TO YOUR CAREER SERVICES! Most organizations post their jobs through the on-campus career services. Go there often and keep an eye out for information sessions and on-campus interviews.
Information sessions can be a particularly useful way to learn about organizations and the positions they are recruiting for. Attending information sessions also gives you a chance to start networking. It is easy and usually only takes about 30 minutes. As a recruiter, if I meet a candidate at the information session, they already have a foot in the door with me. They showed interest and ambition by showing up and talking with me, they will almost always get at least a phone interview.
I’d love to hear your stories. What did you do during college that helped you land a job when you graduated? Current students: Do you have any tips to add?