A college education is a gateway to achieving your dream career. But before you can reach your goals, you need to have a plan. Knowing how to plan for your career during college is essential to achieving success. It’s a step-by-step process that starts off with self-exploration and ends with job readiness. From understanding your skills and interest and setting realistic goals to creating a resume and interviewing, this guide will provide you with the tools you need to plan for your career during and after your graduation. With a plan in place, you will be ready to tackle the job market with confidence and start your career off on the right foot.
Beginning of Degree or Program
So, we will start from the beginning (obviously) choosing a degree doesn’t always automatically mean you will find a definitive career path at the end. For that to happen you need to start planning.
Develop a Career Plan and Set Some Goals for Your First Year
Often, students get confused about what major to pick, deciding a major is essential to the whole career development process. I would recommend that you research a little about the majors that seem interesting to you or make an appointment with a Career Resource Specialist who can help you clarify your career goals.
Once you have decided on your major it is now time to create a career plan. A career plan is a roadmap that will help you define exactly what you’d like to achieve in your career. It’s important to have a plan in place so you can stay focused and on track. The plan should take into account your skills, interests, and goals.
To create a career plan follow these simple steps:
- Take your interests, skills and strengths into consideration
- Then learn about the potential career options related to your field
- Now identify careers that match your skills
- Consider the situation of the labour market in your industry now and what it might look like in the future
- Understand career qualifications
- Assess salaries and other benefits
- Compare possible career paths
- Establish SMART goals
- Develop a career action plan
There are a number of online resources such as career assessment tests, which are a series of questions that aim to help you learn about yourself so you can find a career path that meshes best with your personality, skills and goals. Some of the best free career tests are listed below:
- Myers Briggs
- MAPP Career Test
- Work Values Matcher
- Career Values Quiz
In addition to your plan, make sure to set some goals for your first year. This will give you a sense of direction and purpose and help you stay motivated. When setting goals, remember to focus on short-term and long-term objectives. Short-term goals could include acing your classes, building relationships with professors and mentors, or getting involved in extracurricular activities. Long-term goals may include securing internships, developing skills that will make you stand out in the job market, and landing a great job after college. And don’t forget to celebrate whenever you achieve a goal no matter how small it is.
Be Aware of Your Employability Skills, the Gaps and What You Need to Work On
Now comes the part where we focus on your employability skills. In most cases, employability skills are developed over time, so if you find yourself lacking in some important skills that are required in your career path you don’t need to worry at all. There are a number of ways you can work on those gaps. Once you start college you will find various clubs you can join. That may be a sporting club or a cultural special interest or academic club or a debate club. All these activities can develop your employability skills, build an experience that you can put on your resume and stand out to potential employers in the future.
Most Important Employability Skills that an employer looks for in an applicant:
- Communication skills (writing, speaking, listening, presenting)
- Leadership skills
- Ability to learn on the job and follow instructions
- Team player
- Emotional Intelligence
- Analytical skills
- Administrative skills
Develop Your Resume and Social Media Professional Profile
A resume is one of the best ways to showcase your skills and experience, so it’s important to craft an effective one that is tailored to your target industry and job. As a college student, you may not have as much experience as more experienced professionals, so it’s important to focus on the skills you do have and highlight any internships, volunteer work, or other activities that demonstrate your ability to do the job. You should also strive to keep your resume up to date with any new accomplishments or experience that you gain. This will help ensure that you’re always showcasing the most relevant and impressive qualifications for the job you’re applying for. As it is one of the most important documents of your life you need to make sure it is perfect. So, attend a resume writing workshop or as an expert to help you develop one.
Social media is another important tool for career development. By creating a professional profile on various platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, you can build an online presence and engage with potential employers. You can share your accomplishments, experience, and interests – all of which can be used to demonstrate why you’re the right fit for a job.
Reflect on the Past Year, Adjust Your Career Plan and Set Your Next Goals
The first year will go by in an instant, so make the most of it. Now you need to start planning for next year. Reassess the goals and career plan you set up for yourself to see if something has changed along the way and to determine in which direction you are headed. Make some adjustments if required and get ready for the next chapter of your life.
Mid Degree or program
The mid part of your degree can be especially tough but it can also prove to be equally rewarding depending on how you will spend your time. You already have an inkling of what you want to do in the future and you have prepared material for it too. Now it is time to start getting serious about your career.
Know the Ins and Outs of Recruitment and Selection
Recruitment and selection can be quite intense nowadays. But if you are prepared it will be like walking in a park for you. Research the recruitment and selection policies and the selection criteria of the industry or the company you are interested in, its aim and its vision as well. Once you have knowledge of these, plan how you can use them in your answers in the interview.
Build Your Practical Work Experience and Learn From It
Now is the time to put everything in motion, and start looking for a work placement or internship to gain valuable skills in your chosen field and help your future employability. You can look for one while still studying or you can find one when you are on vacation. This is a great way to prepare for other positions once you graduate.
If you are studying abroad you have the added advantage of gaining insight into the skills needed to work with people of different backgrounds and cultures. There are several international volunteering opportunities as well that you can consider. If you are still stuck without a way out consider going to career events such as Career Expo, this way you can not only develop your knowledge but make important professional networks that may prove to be valuable in the future.
You also ask for help from a mentor in your chosen industry or you can book a session with Career Advisor to ensure you are on right track.
Don’t Forget to Continue Building Your Work History
As a student, you should be aware that your work history can help you in the future. It is important to start building your work history as early as possible. As we mentioned above you can start with part-time jobs and internships related to the career you are planning for. It is also important to remember that your work history should include not only job experience but also any volunteering experience or extra-curricular activities. These activities demonstrate your commitment and passion for the work you are doing and will help to show that you are a well-rounded individual. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you include them in your work history.
When you are applying for a job, employers look at your work history to get an idea of your skills, knowledge, and experience. It is also important to keep in mind that your work history should be updated regularly. That is why it is essential that you continue to build your work history even after you have graduated. By doing this, you can show employers that you are continuously developing your skills and knowledge.
Consider How Employers Identify Talent and What Your Competitive Advantage Is.
Career planning is an essential part of finding success in any field. To ensure that you make the best decisions for your career, it’s important to understand how employers identify talent and what your competitive advantage is.
When employers are looking for new talent, they usually start by looking at the qualifications and experience of applicants. They’ll review resumes, portfolios and other documents to determine if an individual has the skills and experience needed for the position. Employers also look at the fit of the individual for the position, the culture of the organization, and the potential for the individual to grow in the role. In addition to qualifications and experience, employers also look for certain qualities when searching for new talent. They look for individuals who demonstrate problem-solving skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and creativity. Employers also look for individuals who have a positive attitude, are team players, and are willing to learn.
When considering your competitive advantage, it’s important to identify what sets you apart from other applicants. It could be a unique set of skills, an impressive portfolio, or a specialized area of knowledge. By understanding what your competitive advantage is, you can better market yourself to employers and increase your chances of getting hired.
Develop and Build Your Networks
You might think that building your network is a task reserved only for post-graduation, but you can start networking while you’re still in school. Begin by talking to your professors. Find out what connections they have or what resources they can provide to help you find a job. Join clubs, organizations, and student groups on campus. Participate in events, volunteer, and meet new people. The more people you meet, the greater chance you have of finding someone who can help you get a job. Stay in touch with connections from internships and extracurricular activities. You never know when one of these people can open a door for you.
You can also reach out to potential employers directly. Even if you don’t have a specific job in mind, it’s wise to network and build relationships with people in your chosen field. You never know what opportunities may arise from simply having a conversation.
Prior to Graduation
You are getting close to graduation now. You must be extremely anxious and stressed about the future. But don’t worry, you must have made immense progress in the past few years that will surely help you land your dream jobs.
Apply for a Graduate Recruitment Program
Another way to start the journey to your future career path as a student is to consider applying for a position in a graduate program. Graduate programs are one to two years recruitment programs offered by companies and governments to graduates in a variety of academic disciplines. They are available across a variety of different fields, so it doesn’t matter if you are from the fields of arts or humanities or banking you will have a chance there. Aside from kickstarting your career, there are multiple other benefits associated with graduate programs such as training, formal mentoring and supervision, career development planning and helping you transition from a full-time student to a full-time employee.
Start Preparing to Transition to the Workforce
The transition from college to the workplace can be challenging for even the most prepared students. The working world is a very different college environment and you should take the step that can make the transition as painless and successful as possible. All the things listed above will prepare you for the transition such as networking, volunteering, and internships. If you have experienced any of these the transition will be successful.
Your transition from student to an employee will vary depending on various factors, some will be in your control (such as your skills, behaviour and experience) while some will be outside your control. But the important thing is to enjoy the whole process, you are finally embarking on the journey you have been preparing for years so take some time to enjoy the moment instead of letting the fear of the unknown ruin it for you. Good Luck with your future!