Here’s a scary thought: the moment you graduate you are a freshman again, a freshman in the school of life. Your status clock resets to zero and it can be hard to find your own way with no academic adviser or a professor to help you out when things get tough. This doesn’t mean that you should immediately start finding ways to stay in college forever. It just means that there are some things that college doesn’t really prepare you for which in many ways, can be the fault of the college itself. Sometimes, they could do a better job at preparing students for the real world. Let’s take a look at what a few of these things are.
Getting Better Advice
Here’s something that’s obvious but often not said: in college the career-center is not always the best place to get career advice. That’s because staffers often don’t have much work experience themselves, and if they do, it’s at a junior level. Not surprisingly this can be a disservice to students, who end up getting advice from people who have never done any actual hiring. In other words, they don’t really know what employers are looking for. As a result, college career centers can often give GREAT advice on how NOT to get a job by giving out info that’s not really relevant to today’s job market. They are good resources for our next strategy, however, which is interning. Work while you’re in college, either through an internship or a part time job. This is extremely important. Always remember the best kind of training is OJT.
Teaching the ABNs
It’s been said many times here at WISH: Always Be Networking; but what does that exactly mean? Students often hear that they should network, but they are not often taught how to or don’t understand what that truly means. As a result, some new graduates simply don’t network at all, while others mistakenly use strategies that have the reverse effect of turning off their contacts, which would be great if you are a superhero with a secret identity.
Assuming that you’re not a superhero, you should definitely learn good networking skills. However, if you’re unsure about how to get your own network truly started, going online and looking up networking opportunities is a good place to start. Take a look at our Things To Do lists and some tips on what’s happening in the District in 2014 to give you an idea of where to meet new people and make your contacts grow. The only way to network is to get out there and trust in your people skills.
Connecting the Dots
Many students pick a major without really understanding the impact the job market will have on them when they graduate. Will their major be in demand or not? Which companies or organizations will be looking for those particular skills? Understanding how your major correlates to your field is called forging your career path forward, and colleges can sometimes do a better job helping students look at the big picture. It’s not about what you’re doing today, but how it will shape what happens 2-3 years down the road. That’s what it’s truly about. Finding a mentor could really help you connect those dots and we’ll have much more on that soon.
A great GPA, a good summer internship, and an active social life might describe you perfectly in college, but does any of that help you as a recent grad? It absolutely could. The trick is learning how to make all that work for you in a meaningful way. Finding out how to connect those dots is part of your journey, and having a come-to-Dorothy moment is the first and most important step. Embrace it, define it, and follow your Yellow Brick Road to success.