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A huge misconception surrounding college students is that careers don’t start until after graduation, however this could not be further from the truth. It’s vital to begin your career as early as possible and college is the perfect time to do so. College students have ample opportunity at their fingertips that should be utilized to set goals and plans for after graduation. Here are 10 ways to be career conscious in college:

  1. Making Connections

There are so many connections to be made in college whether it’s with professors or colleagues. Get to know professors by visiting office hours and asking questions about their career paths – you never know what kind of advice there is to be offered. Also get to know student leaders in various organizations by asking them out to lunch or coffee. This will allow you to make connections and get inspired by people who are geared towards success.

  1. Utilize the Alumni Network

No matter what college you attend, your school most likely has an alumni network. Get into contact with alumni relations at your school and request to be connected with alumni who went down similar career paths that you hope to have. Alumni can serve as mentors and in other important roles – you never know where these relationships may take you.

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  1. Dress Up for Class

As dreadful as this may sound, try dressing business casual for class at least once per week. This will cause you to normalize dressing up in a work environment, ultimately benefiting you when landing a full-time job in the future. In addition to gaining this skill, dressing up will allow you to gain respect from other students and professors. Those who actively show effort will certainly stand out.

  1. Maintain Leadership Roles

Join organizations not only as a resume builder, but to gain skills that will help you in your career. If you are passionate about an organization and want it to improve, apply for a leadership role! Gaining leadership experience is a useful skill that can be utilized in any role or environment.

  1. Complete Internships

Internships are a crucial step in gaining the experience that you need. Complete as many as possible to gain experience in different roles and fields. You will also meet various connections who may help you out with career roles in the future. Internships are the perfect opportunities to grow, learn, and show your willingness to succeed in any given role!

  1. Study Abroad

If you have the opportunity to study abroad in a different country, definitely don’t pass it up. Doing so will allow you to get outside of your comfort zone and understand cultural differences – both vital in the workplace.

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  1. Explore Graduate School Options

Even if your plan doesn’t include going to graduate school, it doesn’t hurt to look. Whether it’s graduate school, law school, or another graduate program, there’s no doubting that a higher degree may help you in your career. If you decide that graduate school isn’t for you, you can at least know that you’ve observed all options.

  1. Travel to Another Location

Whether you travel for an internship, job opportunity, or just because, travelling will undoubtedly provide important life lessons. Again, it is vital to get outside of your comfort zone as many times as possible in college. By going away from home, you will then realize if you want to stay put or move after graduation. This is an important factor when searching for a job!

  1. Take Business and Professional Development Courses

Talk to your advisor and see if you can fit any business or professional development courses into your schedule. If you cannot take them at school, do your own research online! Learning about professional development and basic business skills is necessary in any career path.

  1. Request Letters of Recommendation

If you have an employer, professor, or mentor who has seen you grow in any role, ask for a letter of recommendation. These will help tremendously when applying to future career roles. While they may decline, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

You are responsible for leading yourself into success. Starting early will only help you in the future. While these steps are vital, remind yourself to enjoy the journey as well. Know how much you can personally handle and never stop working hard to get where you want to be.

Jennifer D.
Jennifer Duplessie is a senior at Texas A&M University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in political communications incorporating her passion for writing and photography.

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