Graduating from college and entering the workforce is a daunting prospect. You’re spent years trying to figure out what you actually want to do and making sure your major aligns with your dream job. The workforce for millennials is full of competition. You’re up against peers who graduate with you as well as those already experienced in the workplace. There are several ways you can gain an edge before starting the job hunt. Here are five career planning tips for college students which helped me get a jump-start on my career and can help you too.
1. Get some work experience
One of the important determining factors hiring managers take into consideration is previous experience. Any professional work experience will help you skip ahead of other candidates. My work experience began two years before I started college. By the time I graduated I already had six years of work experience to give me an edge, a combination of childcare, retail and administrative.
You can present a professional edge by interning and learning as much as possible. Pay attention to what kind of work you enjoy doing and what and what you don’t like to narrow down job possibilities. Even if you don’t start out with your dream job there is plenty of time to work, gain knowledge, and find out what you actually like to do.
2. Don’t be afraid to try something new or share your ideas
As an entry level employee, you’re part of the new workforce, the generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and new business owners. While your goal might not be CEO of a large corporation, you might just have the next idea for a startup or mobile application.
We are all unique and bring different ideas to the table and management might not be able to look at a project, job task or solution from every angle. While you might not aim to be president of a large company, learn as much as possible and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective.
Find out how other professionals are presenting themselves online and in person. Create a profile on LinkedIn, start blogging and gaining connections through social media. Go to professional networking events in your city to network with professionals. I cannot stress how important this is.
My first administrative position was because of a referral from the woman I nannied for. While nannying may not appear to be a professional position taking care of someone’s children is one of the most important jobs out there. After all you a small life in your hands and through childcare you learn to prove yourself as trustworthy and show you can follow directions.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask why
As you began to gain experience in the work force don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask why. It is important to learn how processes work especially if you’d like to start your own business one day. As you ask questions and understand why things are the way they are, you’ll learn how to provide solutions.
There is a lot to learn coming out of college. Even though you may have spent years in the classroom, actually getting out into the “real world” is different because you aren’t working for a grade. I learned while some courses applied to my job description affecting the revenue stream at my job because of my actions is a much bigger responsibility than trying to make a grade.
5. Take initiative
Are you looking to move up? Start at an entry level position and work your way up to management? The way to make your skill set indispensable in the workforce is to become a problem solver. Find out what problem your job has and find a solution. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond to present yourself as a valuable employee. Whatever you set your mind to, make sure you do you absolute best. Excellence will set you apart in the workforce.
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About the Author
Angela Ford is a client services manager and freelance publicity consultant. Angela has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University’s College of Entertainment and Music Business. She loves her position working in health and wellness technology and enjoys freelancing in her spare time. You’re most likely to find her sipping a white chocolate mocha at a local coffee shop, trying out the latest and greatest in technology or working on her next blog post. Say hi to Angela on LinkedIn or via Twitter @aford21.