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Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Get a Job After You Graduate When You're Still a Freshman.

I’ve talked about choosing a major in “So Why Am I Paying For School Again?” I wanted to expand upon the idea of picking a major. This economy is rough and you want to be as marketable as possible; because if you don’t do this all the time and money you spent at school will be a waste. So how do you make yourself more marketable to employers?

The first step to making yourself marketable is to earn good grades. The goal should be every class is a B or higher. The occasional C is acceptable, but don’t make this a regular habit. Good grades aren’t everything, but if an employer is choosing between two recent graduates and you had a 3.5 G.P.A. and the other student had a 3.0 G.P.A. guess who has the edge? Plus you don’t want to get stuck with a bunch of D’s, F’s, and withdrawals because not only will you have to repeat courses (which is additional money) but if you get too many F’s and withdrawals you might put your financial aid in jeopardy (All colleges and universities have financial aid probation, suspension, and termination. If you don’t make “adequate forward progress,” which is defined differently at each institution, then your grants, work-study, student loans, and parent plus loans can be taken away.).

The next step to marketability is joining clubs and organizations. By the time you graduate you should make it your goal to have served in some official position in the club (President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer). This will show that not only can you be committed to an organization and be involved in your field, but also that you have leadership and organizational skills.

Improving marketability also involves participating in mentorship and internship opportunities. Being involved as a mentee or intern allows you to gain experience or exposure to a certain profession, but also gives you connections in a certain field. This will help you get work when you finish school. Even if the people you work with or who mentor you don’t have a position open in their company for you, they will be able to give you a good recommendation at another company that does. They may also personally/professionally know people at other businesses and can help get you in the door.

Volunteer work is important as well. Even if there is nothing in your field that relates to any volunteer work this is a great thing to put on your resume. Volunteering shows that you are a good person who wants to help others and takes action so that you can help others, and it also shows that you know how to prioritize your time for things that matter to you. As an added bonus volunteering feels good and helps keep things in perspective as you go through school. It can be really easy to be selfish and self-centered at college because so much of your time is being spent on thinking about you. Volunteering will help keep you grounded and remind you that there are other people out there that have bigger problems.

You may also want to consider double majoring or earning a minor. Sometimes when you major in a field that is closely related to another there won’t be too many additional classes you would need to take to earn a second major or a minor. For example a person earning a degree in mechanical engineering could easily earn a second major in mathematics. A person majoring in business could double major in economics. You can also earn a minor in a field that would help you in your major such as minoring in Spanish if you plan on becoming a teacher, or minoring in psychology if you are majoring in social work. Think about what types of fields are related to what you are already doing and what subject areas interest you. When applying for jobs employers will see that your field of expertise includes a wide perspective, or that you may have additional skills that will make you a better asset to your employer.

Lastly earning a Master’s/Doctoral degree or certificates are great ways to improve your marketability shortly after you graduate. Sometimes these are required in order to begin the career you are interested in such as psychologist or medical doctor, while in other fields this will improve opportunities such as earning an M.B.A. Evaluate carefully if this is necessary for you because of the added expense and time required. Talking to people in your field is a good idea before entering any graduate or certificate program.

Hopefully this post will help you begin to think about the necessary steps to make your college years work for you when you are finished with school. Simply earning a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee a job. Neither does following my advice, but at least you will be putting yourself in a position where you have done everything you can to improve your situation.
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