My biggest takeaway from college about entering the job market is that a degree is not enough to stand out.
Think about it, everyone that is graduating with you is leaving with the same degree as you. Most of them have a similar GPA to you and all of you are competing to get into the same job industry with limited positions, depending on how broad or narrow your major is. This makes job search very dehumanizing because people attach their identity to the rejections or acceptances that they receive such that, it becomes a depressing period.
All that can be reduced if the graduate stands out from the crowd of other students and makes an impression on the world. This has no connection with being the smartest academically but the smartest in putting in work where it really matters.
Here, are a few things you should look out for on your campus to stand out and improve your resume.
First of all, be actively involved in a professional organization chapter branch on campus because you will learn a lot from discussions made outside the classroom. Most of these discussions will center around your future career and how to get there. They usually provide opportunities for volunteering, going to career fairs, and leadership. Here, you have an opportunity to also grow your soft skills like communication skills, organizational skills, and so on when you participate in activities or take on a leadership position. Professional organizations keep you thinking about your future which can be overwhelming at first but will be something you will eventually accept.
Second, career fairs or any networking events are essential. Most people see it as an opportunity to get a job and so, they wait till their junior or senior year before making any step to going for these events. Big Mistake!! These events are there to network and build relationships with companies you are interested in. When you meet with recruiters, you can ask them anything, literally. You can pick their brain while building a rapport with them and you could get to know more about the company they represent more than you can read from their website. Afterward, connect with them on LinkedIn to build the relationship.
Next, get involved with extracurricular events that will build your technical skills like entrepreneurship classes or competitions. If you are an English major, get involved in writing competitions if you are looking to work in the creative space. For an engineering major, get involved with design competitions or design team projects or research. These types of activities are also available nationwide and do not have to belong specifically to your school for you to be involved. So, do your research.
Additionally, minor in another course if you can. I understand that this would be an additional financial burden but if you think that the classes will be very beneficial to post-college life, then go ahead. This is optional and does not apply in all cases. Do not waste your money on a useless minor.
Online learning has and will always be a blessing. Meet with your professors to ask for guidance on the online certification courses that you should take that could be helpful to your resume. A lot of technical skills are developed solely based on your own passion and diligence. You should choose the ones that will be instrumental to your growth out of the ones suggested by your professors.
Another route to go is, visit company career pages to see the job description and requirements for positions you are interested in to know what it will take to be overqualified for the job.
Make a list and plan towards achieving the goal.
I wish you the best.