7 Essential Career-Readiness Tips for Students was originally published on Firsthand.
Deciding what to do after school and how to prepare for life after college can be stressful and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the below seven stress-free tips, you’ll be well prepared for the next step in your life.
1. Actively build your network
If you want to advance professionally, you need to begin networking as soon as possible—and that means starting in college. You should always try to meet as many people as possible. And don’t be too hesitant to go to social gatherings. You can use social events hosted by your college as fantastic opportunities to engage with key individuals. When you do go to gatherings, don’t wait for others to approach you. Be prepared to take the lead and be the conversation starter.
2. Learn how to budget
Money management might be your last priority when you’re in school. However, college is an excellent time to establish sustainable lifestyle decisions such as budgeting. While we all understand the importance of living within our means, it’s easy to forget to sit down and devote some time to developing and managing a budget.
Usually, creating a budget isn’t an issue for college students. But adhering to it is. Budgeting is based on the premise that you should never spend more money than you earn. Otherwise, you risk becoming engulfed in debt that will be hard to recover from. To begin to create a budget, determine how much money you have and which school expenses are unavoidable. These are figures that should remain relatively constant for the school year.
3. Refine and build your social media presence
It’s critical to ensure that your social media profiles portray you favorably. Prospective employers will likely conduct an online search of you, and if they find something on your social media that they dislike or find offensive, it may cost you a job opportunity.
It’s also a good idea to start to use your social media to build your network. You can now use various social networking sites to interact with prominent people online. So, participate in online exchanges on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, to name a few. Contact employers, industry experts, recruiting agencies, passionate individuals, and so forth. Create connections that could help you later.
4. Work on your interviewing skills
One of the main things you’ll need to do to prepare for life after college is master your interviewing skills. The best way to prepare is to practice your answers well in advance of interviews, so you can be ready to interview on a moment’s notice. It will be far less stressful later if you start preparing as early as possible while in college. Note that it’s an art to learn how to talk to employers and recruiters, and it takes time to master. You shouldn’t only begin to prepare for an interview the night before. Start now!
5. Find internships and mentorships
Any student who has searched for an internship will tell you that finding the perfect one can be challenging. They’ll also tell you it’s well worth the effort. There’s no disputing that an internship can give you many advantages, including essential experience that will help you develop a solid professional foundation as you begin your career path. This can lead to greater job prospects once you graduate, as well as a higher salary.
Also, a mentor can assist you in understanding professional environments by giving you viewpoints that can help you grow your career in its early stages. A mentor might be a professor with industry ties, a previous supervisor, or even a family member. Your choice of mentor will likely be influenced by your area of interest and intended career.
6. Think about student loan repayment
Consider your repayment strategy if you used student loans to help fund your education. There are likely several repayment choices available for federal student loans, including standard, graduated, and income-based repayment. Most likely, you’ll have various terms to consider if you took out private student loans.
Also, if you plan to begin your post-grad career in a big city like Los Angeles or New York, you’ll need to be smart with your money and check what the best neighborhoods for renters are. For example, if you target affordable places for renters in NYC, you’ll be able to significantly cut your costs and use the extra money towards repaying your debt.
7. Follow your passions and know your worth
Career paths are full of twists and turns, as well as unexpected stops and starts. Consider your career as a three- or four-decade timeline. It isn’t just one job. So, make sure to plant, nurture, and pursue your passions, since they’ll provide you with the most fulfillment and opportunities for success. College will help you find your strengths and realize your worth—claim them. Remember, there’s no one else like you—and that’s your biggest strength.
Melissa Fisher is a full-time blogger with a focus on career counseling and job hunting. Her passions include reading true crime novels and playing with her two dogs.