It used to be that college students could wait until spring of their senior year to start thinking about looking for a job. That’s not the case today. A degree is no longer enough to land you a job. The earlier you can get into the job seeker mindset, the better. Here are four things you can do long before graduation appears on the horizon.
Do an Internship (or Several)
Internships give you the invaluable real-world experience companies look for. They also let you test out a field and a company before you commit to anything long term. Instead of waiting until your last year at school, look for an internship early on. You can even do more than one. If possible, try to get your foot in the door with a big, well-known company. Even if you never work for them again, having the name on your resume can open doors down the line.
Get Used to Speaking Your Mind
Starting a blog is an excellent way to practice voicing your opinions and publicly engaging with topics that interest you. You can get a free account with WordPress.com or buy your own domain and install WordPress on it. Then, pick a topic that interests you and start writing. It’s best to choose an aspect of your desired industry, but a personal interest can work too. Practice expressing yourself confidently and putting your thoughts out into the world. Share relevant projects you’ve done on your own or through school. Just remember to keep the tone professional so that potential employers won’t be put off if they read it.
Start Building Your Network
The more people you know, the more avenues you’ll have for finding a job when the time comes. See if your campus has a group related to the profession you’re considering. If so, get involved. Such groups can be a great way to delve into a field, meet industry professionals, and strengthen your network of connections. It’s also important to have a way of staying in touch with your network. You may think a Twitter or Facebook profile is enough, but that’s not where recruiters look for people to hire. You can keep track of your network and be visible to recruiters on LinkedIn. As you do internships or work jobs at school, add them to your profile. Do the same with coworkers and fellow students. You’ll have a network before you know it.
Find Yourself a Mentor
A mentor in the specific industry you want to enter can provide guidance and assistance a parent, friend, or professor can’t. How do you find such a mentor? Student groups can be a good place to start. You can also search on LinkedIn for people in industries or companies that interest you. Once you find someone, email them and ask if they’d be willing to meet. It’s possible your confidence in reaching out will impress them and they’ll say yes.
Whichever approaches you choose to take, the important thing is not to wait. Start laying the groundwork now and that first job will be easier to find when the time comes.