For most people, college is not only a learning experience, but also a path to a career. The problem, however, is that many students fail to use their college years to their fullest potential. If approached in the correct way, college can leave you with more than just a degree to take to potential future employers. Here are four ways you can tailor your college experience to prepare you for a more successful and prestigious career.
Treat Every Project Like a Portfolio Piece
When you leave college and begin looking for a job, you’ll need a portfolio of previous work to show prospective employers. Say, for example, you plan to go into marketing. The best way to prove to an interviewer that you know what you’re doing is to present a full-fledged marketing campaign that you’ve created. In college, you should treat every project you do as if it may become part of your job portfolio later on. If you do this, you’ll have a plethora of good choices when you actually do create a portfolio for an employer to look over.
Take an Internship
Probably the best way to gain relevant job experience as a college student is to become an intern. By taking the knowledge you learn in the classroom into a real workplace, you gain useful insights into how it applies in a day-to-day job. An internship can also help you build valuable contacts within the business community in your field or even lead to an offer of employment after you have graduated.
Become a Teaching Assistant
One good way to get hands-on experience in many fields is to become a teaching assistant, or TA. For a specific example of how being an assistant to a professor can help you gain useful experience, consider the case of a chemistry TA. Learning to use electric mixers for laboratories in the process of creating the needed stock of the right chemicals at the right concentrations for a professor to use is very similar to what that person might later have to do in a lab setting in his or her career. Not only that, but they’re real world experience will allow them to articulate more info and apply it to their job a lot faster and with minimal training.
Use Your Electives Wisely
Many college students use their electives to study topics they are interested in, but which do not relate directly to their career goals. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it isn’t the best use of your elective classes. Instead, use electives to support your career goals by studying topics that might help you to stand out to employers. Suppose, for example, you were a data science major. Using your electives to study business or marketing, while not part of your major, would make you more effective when trying to employ your data science skills in the context of a real company.
Today, far too many college students are having a hard time finding jobs once they graduate. If you want to avoid this pitfall, you should use your college years to the fullest by taking every opportunity you can to make yourself a more attractive recruit for future employers.