5 Ways First-Year College Students Can Take Advantage of Career Services was originally published on College Recruiter.
If you’re gearing up for college as a first-year college student, you’re probably super excited. And nervous. And overwhelmed by a large to-do list… Pack, meet your roommate, scope out the best parking spots, locate your classes, and find decent restaurants near campus. And of course you’ll want to buy your books, meet your academic advisor, and stop by career services during your first semester on campus.
Career services—what? You’ve only just begun taking college courses—career services is for seniors, right? Wrong. The worst thing you can do is wait until you’re a senior in college to reach out to career services for help.
This short video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, lists five ways first-year college students can take advantage of career services.
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1.Get to know career services professionals during your first year on campus.
They’re your greatest allies in your job search. They’ll help you find great opportunities to gain experience, including part-time and full-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, internships and externships. You can begin learning about these opportunities as a first-year college student.
“Career services professionals are there to help guide and ease your career search. The cost is free, and the things you gain are priceless!” claims Xiaoying Chen, Human Resources Coordinator and former career services professional.
The skill and interest inventories provided by career services are much more in depth and offer way better feedback than the 10-question surveys you might have taken online via social media in the past. There’s a reason career services offices pay for access to these assessment tools; as a college student, you have access to take the assessments at no cost, so why not take advantage of this opportunity to learn about your personality, work style, skills and abilities, and interests? The more you learn about yourself and the better you understand yourself, the more likely you are to choose a degree path/major that suits you well.
Be sure to take skill/interest inventories as a first-year college student because at most colleges and universities, you have to declare a major course of study by the end of your sophomore year (or when you have earned 60 credit hours).
3. Begin networking and branding yourself.
These two long-term activities—or ways of life, really—go hand in hand. If you’re showing people who you are in your best light (what branding is all about), building great relationships (networking) is much more natural and easier.
Stop by your career services office on campus to ask about ways you can begin networking with employers right away. Career services offices typically host meet-and-greet events to allow students and employers to connect. They also host career fairs on campus and on-campus interviews and informational interviews. Some career services offices even partner with employers to provide site visits to allow students to see what employers do on a daily basis. Be open to suggestions made by your career services professionals and take advantage of opportunities to get to know employers. The sooner you begin branding yourself as someone who’s eager to learn, the better off you’ll be when you begin applying for internships and jobs.
4. Get involved on campus.
It’s easy to put your head down, study hard, and focus on grades and nothing else during your first year of college. It’s just as easy to do the opposite and do nothing but party your first year of college. Neither of those are really good options in the long run. If possible, keep your grades up but don’t avoid interacting with people either.
Join at least one or two organizations with a genuine purpose. Ideally the organizations you join provide you with opportunities to learn or grow in ways you can develop technical or soft skills which you can later list on your resume. Look for opportunities to work as part of a team, opportunities to lead, opportunities to solve problems, and opportunities to put the academic lessons learned in the classroom to use in a creative way outside of the classroom.
5. Create a draft of a resume or at least a running list (to be converted into a resume later).
Ideally, you should create a draft of a resume, even if it’s rather sketchy and thrown together during your first year of college. Just get started!
If you don’t actually lay out your resume in resume format, at least create a running list of your activities, honors and awards, skills, campus involvement, and work and volunteer experience. Keeping up with what you have done and are doing is crucial. Keep this list in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and in the cloud; don’t keep it on a device which can be stolen, damaged, or lost. When you’re ready to create your first real resume, your list will be retrievable.