A Pro’s Advice to College Students

I am almost a decade out of my undergrad (University of Miami) and have worked for major content publishers such as Fox and Investors Business Daily as a certified Project Manager. The first few years out college were rough, particularly for grads coming out into the work force at the precipice of the recession. Those first few years are going to be a large learning curve for everyone, but the quicker you can get through it and can scale those speed bumps that slow you down, the faster you will you will get to where you really want to go. Here are some tips for college students that can help smooth out those speed bumps and get you farther.

  1. Do good in school. Now I know that’s obvious, but I cannot stress enough, you only have one shot to get a good GPA because that sticks with you for the rest of your life. If you don’t do well studying or testing, ask around for a study group you can join or invest in a course to help you. Everyone knows college students are on a budget, but if you spread that cost over the span of the four years you go to college, it’s reasonable and well worth it. College will suddenly seem easier when you do take it and you will feel you can take on more.

 

  1. Club! No, not the ones you party at, the ones you join on campus. Join a club that simulates what you want to do so you can get that experience. It’s a good opportunity to check in with yourself to see if that’s really what you want to do or not. College is the time and place to make that dream path more definitive as it is much more difficult later on to make a career switch. Plus, as a newbie out of college, you are going to need stuff to put on your resume. It checks the “passion” checkbox.

 

  1. Stay active. It’s important to keep a school-life balance. Bike to class, take the stairs, join a sport, take advantage of the gym on-site, take your favorite fitness class on a regular basis, or train for a marathon. With all the mind development in college, don’t neglect your body. The one always helps the other when your keep them at peak levels.

 

  1. Do an internship (or a few). Internships are a great way to get a jump-start in the work place. Work with the career center to find one that’s right for you. When you’re there, always carry a pen and paper to take notes as if it were a class. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can and nurture the relations with people who are willing to help you. Feel free to interview people on how they got to where they are, people love talking about themselves and they’ll feel flattered. Ask them for any additional suggestions or resources you can use to get to where you want to go.

 

  1. Network in college like crazy. Get as many contacts as you can of people who want to work in your industry because there will be a time where you will be turning to them for a job and them to you. Develop those relationships and make yourself memorable now because after college no one has time.

 

  1. Use the Career Services Center. Make friends with the career counselors and ask for their advice on resumes, cover letters, social media profiles, and company connections. These should be solid by your senior year.

 

  1. As you’re mind matures, so should your attire. As you get closer to your junior and senior year, scrap the hoodies and sweats and trade them in for more professional, yet comfortable attire. As you start to get closer to the internship or job hunt, impressions count, not only with employers that come on campus and professors who can help you get those connections, but your classmates will look up to you too as a leader. Save the grunge look for the weekends.

 

  1. Take on a leadership opportunity. As busy as you are, make the time to seek out a leadership opportunity. These show employers that you can take initiative and are confident that you can balance and time manage your life while putting the agenda of a cause or organization first. It also shows you don’t need to be hand held in your job. During hard times, organizations lean up and don’t want to offer as much training to new hires as they did before. Anyone can be a follower, but if you show you can step up to the plate, get along with people and rally support, you are a winning pick in employer’s eyes.

 

  1. If you have space in your schedule to take extra courses, do it. You will have regrets later if you don’t. Once you graduate college, that’s it, no more courses. If you want to take classes again, guess what, you have to go through the whole application process again. Mind you, you can always pick up a class here or there at your local community college, but it doesn’t count towards your graduating GPA. Taking an elective that’s not too challenging is a great way to boost your GPA. If you find that it’s not working for you, you can always drop it.

 

  1. Go to social events. College is one of the best opportunities you have to make friends. It’s also one of the easiest times. Your rate of friendship making after college quickly decreases as the pool of people you’re around decreases as well and people start resorting to Facebook. Turn your college friendships into life long friendships.

 

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