There is a lot of hustle and bustle in the student years. There is little free time: from attending classes and parties to dealing with exams and social life.
However, the student years are crucial for career development. Now is the right time not only to think about your career aspirations, but to take action. In this article, we’ll give you some practical tips and experience-based recommendations for building a solid foundation for your career. Dive in.
Discover your true passion.
What you study in college may interest you, but is it your true passion? Let’s say you study computer science: can you imagine working in that field your whole life?
Don’t ignore the cliché “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” just because you’ve heard it many times. Choosing a career is a long-term decision, and apprenticeship time is the perfect time to think about what career is right for you. Whatever profession you choose, try to be better than the best in your field. And this is only possible if you are truly passionate about what you do, because when you do what you love, you are motivated to do your best every day.
So strive to find your true passion. Think about the subjects you love and the ones in which you excel in your major. Think about the personalities you admire. Many graduates end up doing something completely different from what they studied, and that’s normal. The important thing is to find and do what you love, and the money will come.
Be proactive in seeking opportunities.
Studying in college is a time to have fun, but also to gain valuable practical experience in your field. One of the most important and effective ways to do this is to complete an internship.
Internships allow you to try out different areas that interest you. You can learn new skills and gain real-world experience without the pressure and commitment associated with a full-time job, and you may even get paid! Work experience, even if it has nothing to do with the job you’ll ultimately perform, better prepares you for the real world and helps you focus on what you love. And if you can get your foot in the door while you’re still studying, finding a job afterwards will be less stressful.
Volunteering is another great way to gain valuable experience and show your future employers that you’re serious about the things that are important to you. And to find internships and volunteer opportunities, you need to.
Build a network.
It is largely true that “your network is your wealth” (title of a book by Porter Gale). Time spent in college is ideal for planting the seeds of later professional relationships:
- In the short term, they help you find internships and freelance work.
- In the long term, they help you get job offers and business opportunities.
There are many ways to start building a professional network:
- Start with your teachers, peers and family members. Ask them to let you know if they find a job in your field of interest.
- Contact your former classmates (and keep in touch) to find out about internship opportunities at their companies.
- Use social media platforms, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, to post your impressions of college studies, connect with professionals in your field, join networking groups, and search for opportunities.
- Attend job fairs and similar events to connect with potential employers.
Learn to be prudent with finances.
You may not be earning anything yet, but the sooner you learn the basics of wealth building, the better.
Whether you have a source of income or not, the first step to financial prudence is to get into the habit of spending wisely. Sure, you can indulge yourself from time to time, but avoid impulse buying or spending on things you don’t need. After all, money saved is money earned, and with it you can better manage your monthly college expenses and debt.
And if you have money left over, learn how to invest. You can also consider P2P lending or, if you’re feeling adventurous, cryptocurrency trading.
While tackling academic work in college is often a daunting task in itself, it’s almost always possible to find time for a creative and potentially very worthwhile activity.
So if you feel the entrepreneurial urge to start something of your own, whether it’s a blog, a simple online store, a YouTube channel, etc., go for it. Don’t procrastinate and watch Netflix instead. Starting a side business while studying gives you an incredible advantage and who knows what can come out of it.
Freelancing in your spare time isn’t a bad idea either. Do you like web design, coding or writing and are good at it? Why not put your skills to use by doing real projects and getting paid for your work? Not to mention that freelancing also helps you build contacts and resumes and finance (at least in part) your tuition fees.
Like it or not, time in college goes by fast. Before you know it, you’ll be reminiscing about your college days and being thankful you’re not suffering through the stress of exams and deadlines while worrying about a project deadline at work.
Make the most of this time. In the long run, your college grades may not matter much, but how you spend your college years matters a lot.