Career advice college students

Olivia La Bianca is a senior Journalism student and an avid writer. Olivia is passionate about communication, and believes that writing is one of the most humanistic professions. She especially loves blogging and social media, and her work has been published on Thought Catalog and Novel Publicity & Co.

Up until college, the goals have been pretty clear cut. Achieve good grades so that your high school GPA is high enough to get into the college of your choice. After college, however, things are not that clear cut. Of course, the end goal is to graduate with a degree in your chosen field, but the truth is that future employers look for a lot more than just a passing GPA.

Here are some of the things that I have learned from graduates, professors, career counsellors, and from job hunting myself. This list will be helpful not only for college juniors and seniors, but also those first years and sophomores who would like to get a head start on their career search.

1. A Good GPA
The fact that you graduated will not be enough for a future employer. They will request academic transcripts in order to see your final GPA. While the quality of your GPA is not a deal breaker, what they see will impact their decision.

Why is this?

During your college years, your job has been to go to class, do your homework, and turn in quality content on a deadline. For all intents and purposes, being a student was your profession. A low GPA can be a result of many things, but what it suggests to a future employer is that you were not able to manage your time well, you had trouble prioritizing what was most important, or you were just lazy. Meanwhile, a good GPA suggests that you are motivated, self-disciplined, and have a good work ethic.

According to Brighthub.com, employers consider a good GPA to be anything above a 3.5.

2. Leadership or Teamwork in Extra-Curricular Activities
If you really want to impress an employer, participate in a few extra-curricular activities. Try and focus on leadership roles or team roles.

For example, if you are student body president, have founded your own club, or act as a member of an organization’s cabinet, these show trustworthiness and responsibility, as well as an ability to take control of a situation, manage others well, and conduct productive interpersonal and group communication.

On the other hand, if you are involved in a sports team, performance art, or any other activity reliant on teamwork, a future employer can guess that you are easy to get along with, know how to follow rules, can work well with others, and respect authority.

All of these traits are useful in the real world and can be directly applied to whatever job you end up landing. (A good set of extra-curricular activities can make up for a less than impressive GPA, but paired with a good GPA you will be unstoppable.)

3. Related Job Experience
More and more, internships are becoming a necessary component to higher education. Universities and employers are both beginning to realize that actual experience “in the field” can be immensely helpful. Internships will be accessible through your school itself, or through online databases like Looksharp, which sets you up with companies offering intern positions.

Internships are not the only way to get related job experience. You can gain experience through volunteer work or freelancing. For example, if you are interested in jobs pertaining to environmental science, you could volunteer to tend a community garden. While it is not exactly the kind of job you eventually want, it shows that you are passionate about the earth and the environment.

Why go the extra mile?

If you can prove to a future employer that you are coming into a company with some background experience, it will attract them. The more knowledge you have, the less time they will need to spend training you. The more passion you display, the more certain they will be of your commitment to their company goals.

4. An Attractive Resume
So you have got the GPA, the extra-curricular activities, and the job experience. None of it will do you much good without a resume, which condenses all of your qualifications down to a single page.

There is a standard format for a resume which many college graduates use. If you are not a creative person, then a clean, readable template and perfect grammar should do just fine. However, if you find you want to add a little more pizzazz to your resume, try messing around with your header and the formatting (while making sure it progresses logically, is easy to read and steers clear of script fonts). Make it look professional but also unique. Make it stand out.
A future employer is going to be weeding through hundreds of applications, and all the resumes will start to blur together. Having yours pop out and demand attention will only help you in getting that coveted follow-up phone call.

Once you have all four of these crucial components, you are ready to begin the job search. It is important to begin as soon as possible and to dedicate yourself to the idea of eventually landing that perfect job, the one that makes it all worthwhile. The road to a career will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

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