4 Best Ways for College Students to Prepare for the Future

Making it to graduation isn’t enough. Today’s college grads are entering a highly competitive workforce that simultaneously offers low starting salaries.

Schooling can feel like a never-ending game of who can climb to the top faster, and in a way, it is. The job market is the same in the sense that to get in the door, you have to show employers how you are superior to their other hiring options, which means merely being a degree holder isn’t enough.

Thirty-six percent of the American population hold higher education degrees, so if you want your degree to be anything more than a way to take advantage of car insurance for new college graduates, you’ll hone the power of these practices.

1. Practice Non-Resume Listed Skills

Having a polished resume is necessary when entering the job and career market, but what gets you in the door won’t always keep you there or even guarantee that you get hired.
You can be a model student on paper, but employers search for more than those who can simply get the job done.

They want to know what extraordinary things your presence will add to their company, and from the interview on, you should want to express your genuine self to depict if you and the company are a good fit.

Practice Emotional Intelligence

Working with people can bring out a lot of emotions in us. We disagree, feel unheard or misunderstood, and at times can get overwhelmed by unexpecting triggers. Learning how to stay calm and focused under pressure is an emotional skill that makes or breaks a career reputation.

The more self-work you do to prepare yourself for the stresses of everyday life in and outside of work, the better prepared you will be to handle your emotions as well as others.

Employers value someone who knows how to clearly communicate their wants and needs as well as possibly help customers or even other co-workers do the same.

Related: 23 Best Emotional Intelligence Books

Develop Cultural Intelligence

All of us have a limited worldview until we are forced to broaden our horizons. For many people, college is the first kind of culture shock we may experience out of all the things that differ from high school and home life.

Welcome these changes and even seek ways to find new people and cultures you haven’t been exposed to. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be intimidating, but having knowledge and experiences with other cultures helps you build a well-rounded resume and prepares you for working with all kinds of people.

A list of ways to expose yourself to new cultures are:

  • Travel. Take advantage of school breaks and your university’s abroad programs.
  • Learn a new language. Take a different language course than you took in high school.
  • Join a club. You don’t have to identify as any specific race, religion, or sexual identity to join. Cultural-based clubs are designed as safe spaces for marginalized groups, so by placing yourself in unfamiliar positions, you will get an unfiltered view of the culture, struggles, and language.
  • Make friends. It is as simple as saying hello. The more diverse your group of friends become, the more exposed to cultural diversity you’ll be. Friends have direct impacts on our lives, and the most beautiful part of friendship is finding commonalities through what makes us different.

Having diverse cultural knowledge and experience is priceless. It will not only help you get hired but will also assist you in everyday professional and personal life. There is no position or line of work that doesn’t benefit from having a variety of cultural influences or presence.

Grow Your Passions

What you’re passionate about may not always be directly related to your line of work. Actually, when you first start, you’ll likely despise your position.

Passions help keep us grounded as well as keep us interested and engaged in what we’re doing. If you are passionate about your field of study, begin to analyze why you are drawn to it and what you wish to accomplish in the world through your career.

Related: 18 Best Books on Finding Your Passion and Purpose in Life

Find out your objectives and ways to align them with your everyday life inside and outside of work.

2. Make Getting Into Your Field Your Full-Time Job

Going above and beyond and seeking out the opportunities to learn outside your class schedule are conclusive actions that display the qualities and traits of good leaders.

The experience of working in a specific field provides lessons that can’t come from taking tests and quizzes. Employers know this, which is why having some experience outside of the classroom is vital to be taken seriously.

Get An Internship

Getting an internship is one of the most well-known ways to get experience, and the need for them isn’t going anywhere. Find positions on or off campus that are beginning levels to your line of work.

Related: How to Get an Internship

Internships are a great way to build your post-graduation resume, and if you’re currently living on student loans, there is no better time since many internships mean non-paid.

Finding an internship program can be difficult, but a list of places to begin your search are:

  • Campus career centers
  • College counselors
  • Local businesses
  • Researching where your field is most popular and find summer jobs in that area
  • Networking events
  • Adults in clubs you’re involved in

Find a Mentor

We all need someone to look up to. Find somebody doing what you want to do and ask them to mentor you.

You should find a professional who is currently active in your desired field and figure out what you could do for them in exchange for gaining access to watch them work. Finding a mentor is much like an internship, except you will get personal guidance and advice from someone who can help tailor your future into what you want it to be.

Mentors have already made the mistakes and have had to weigh the options that are coming your way. A support system can never be too large, and mentors make great recommendation letters.

Create Your Position

If you’re having trouble finding a position that allows you to do what you envision, try creating it. Whether you intend to be an entrepreneur or just do something you can put on your resume post-graduation, there is no better way to learn than trial and error.

Utilize Social Media

You’re on social media all day anyway, so why not use those platforms to boost your career? Join professional based websites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor to follow people and accounts you admire.

Employers use social media to expand their brands and make sure potential new hires will be a viable asset to their company. Polish your profiles to back up your resume and gain viable knowledge of developments within your career field.

Related: LinkedIn Headline Advice & Examples for Job Seekers

4. Start Right Away

Don’t wait until you have your degree to do what you love. Regardless of your field, there is a way to start doing what you want to do once you graduate. This last tip may sound like a broken record to you by now, but it’s said often because it’s true.

Rejection is a part of the game, and staying in the feeling of defeat won’t help you. Keep trying, and you will find yourself where you’re meant to be, or better yet, discover that where you want isn’t where you’re meant to be.

You make the degree. Your degree doesn’t make you.

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Karen Condor

Karen Condor is a content creator who writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org.

Karen earned a Journalism degree from Williamsport Area Community College and a Communications degree from Shippensburg University. A native of Pennsylvania, she worked in the technology industry in California and in Massachusetts before settling in Greenville, South Carolina, to be near family.

Karen enjoys using her research and reporting skills to create informative and compelling content for a variety of online sources.