Everyone comes to that point in their college career where they think, "Oh, maybe I should start preparing for life after college now." It happens to (almost) everyone, and it usually ends in a panic attack because you don't know where to begin. Well, as a senior in college, I've picked up a few things here and there that I have found to be very beneficial to help get me ready for the real world. Below are a few things to help you get on the right track to having a stress-free post-grad plan!
1. Update your resume
If you don't already have one created, then that would obviously be the first step, but otherwise, it's time to update it. I suggest creating two documents: one with a running list of everything you've ever done in college, and another for your actual resume. You'll want to tailor your resume when applying for jobs later on, and fitting everything you've done on one page is probably not possible, so that's where the running list comes in. Pull the experience you have that looks best for the specific role you're applying for, and alter the words so it matches the job listing that was posted by the company. Most companies use a software that gathers data from all resumes submitted online, so you'll want those keywords to help you stand out from the rest of the applicants!
2. Create a LinkedIn
This is something you probably should have done yesterday, but if you haven't, then now is the time to create a profile on LinkedIn. So many people in the business world use this website to network, and you don't want to miss out on it. It is basically like an online resume, but you'll have access to many more job postings by connecting with as many people as you can. Try joining different groups on LinkedIn, especially ones that connect you with others from your college. Alumni can be very resourceful when it comes to looking for jobs! Also, try to avoid adding random people on your account, because what happens if someone says "I see you know John Smith, I actually know him too. How did you two meet?" Imagine how awkward that will be when you have to say, "Oh sorry, I actually just added him to try to have more connections." Only connect with people you know!
3. Make business cards
This one may seem odd to some people, but it is important to have business cards as a student. If you meet someone that could potentially help you with your career, you will come off as extremely professional and well-prepared when you ask to exchange business cards. They will be very impressed, and you'll now have their contact information as well. Who knows, maybe they'll call you up themselves and tell you about a job opening! Pro tip: send them an email after meeting saying that you are glad you were able to meet them and that you would love any advice they could offer to help prepare you for the future. That way, you'll already have a conversation started and it will be easier to reach out to them later if needed!
4. Attend career fairs
Yes, I know these can be boring and the thought of dressing business casual is not appealing, but I know people who have gotten jobs specifically because of someone they met at a career fair. Bring those business cards and introduce yourself to anyone you think might help advance your career later on, even if it's not someone you want to work with directly. It's also a great way to gain interview experience without having to actually interview! Ask questions about the industry, too, and you'll definitely walk away knowing something you didn't before.
5. Network through friends and family
You may be surprised by the number of people your parents and friends know in the industry you want to work in. Ask your parents to think of everyone they know to see if there is someone they can connect you within your desired industry. Then, have them introduce you through email or in person, and ask if they could offer any advice about how to prepare for the job you want. Your friends may also know of people to connect you with, and their parents might if they don't. Don't be afraid to ask anyone and everyone if they can help put you in touch with someone. It's all about networking!
In the end, it's up to you how prepared you are for life after college. Network as much as you can, gain experience by interning and research the industry you want to work in. The more you know about your future career, the more likely you will be to actually land that dream job. It may take some effort and a lot of hard work, but it will definitely be worth it in the end!