- Use college coursework to gain experience in projects and project management. Much of this could be used on a resume to obtain internships, and paving your way to a career. Coursework is useful as work experience if you can’t work during the school year. So is volunteering 10 hours-a-week is so valuable. Don’t underestimate the experience for your future.
- Look to use summers for internship starting after the freshman year, and perhaps during the freshman year. A good place to start is with virtual internships through the government. They are 100% virtual allowing student flexibility during the year. Although these positions are unpaid, the project experience is invaluable.
- Use the internships to hone strong verbal and written communication skills. There are opportunities for blogging and reporting that transfer to other professions.
- Accept the challenges to assess, organize, and disseminate large amounts of information. Quantify and qualify results demonstrating accountability, skill, and responsibility. A resume with results ($ and %) catches the eyes of employers and help a student stand out.
- Research organizations thoroughly and target companies. Not only a student should know his or her major, but also target the companies he or she wants to work for.
- Companies want soft skills. Demonstrate soft skills such as flexibility, organizational, and customer service. These are a few of the transferable skills that add value to any candidate right out of college
- Try a disruptive approach. At any level, a student or graduate should look past an older co-worker when he or she says, “This is just the way we do it.” Look for ways to show new ways of applied knowledge
- Back to #2, and think in terms of learning how to collaborate virtually . Business lines transcend borders and waters so bring that experience or at least exploring it shows that you have a global perspective. Perhaps that challenge won’t be as difficult when you graduate. Then again, Skype is more than 10 years now, and companies are still afraid.
- Students should spend the time gaining and displaying experience in connecting with co-workers and customers in a socially and emotionally intelligent way. Relating and communicating successfully to different ethnic cultures are so important in truly having a global perspective. Emotional intelligence is important to connect with people because you are looking at walking in your customer or coworker’s shoes.
- The strongest tool a student can build is a professional network of students, mentors, professionals in their field, and faculty. The next few years will bring more opportunities to work as independent contractors (or 1099 employees). A strong network will bring nearly endless job offers and opportunities as long as their network are relevant to his or her field.
There are so much more to learn, than I have time to write. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to look, try new things, make mistakes while very few are looking or care. My oldest son has had nine jobs from his junior year in high school to the beginning of his junior year in college. Only one of them he has been fired. He has learned how to present himself in a very professional way that is convincing and compelling.
Those are the things I couldn’t teach him.