Top 5 Things I Wish I Had Learned in College
Fall is here and I am reminded of one of the most exciting and perhaps trying time in a young collegiate’s life: the midterm season. And yet, for all the things college taught this Y-Gener, I firmly wish someone had taught me how to get a job.
I am a proud graduate of my alma mater. I am certain that I am equipped with the knowledge and skills to be the master in my field. But did college teach me how to land that job wherein I could actually apply all that I had learned? I will admit that I did not make full use of the Career Resource Center on campus. And during the tumultuous time of trying to find a job, I look back and wish that my college had made the Career Resource Center not as an option but as an essential facet to post-grad life.
Here are the Top 5 Things I Wish I Had Learned in College About Finding a Job… drum roll, please.
5) Etiquette. Career Centers focus so much on the jobseeking and resume building aspect that little attention gets paid to actually maintaining yourself as an employee. Now that I’ve been in the working world for some time now, I wish I had learned how to act in it. I cannot tell you the many faux pas I’ve unknowingly committed. Whether it be by phone, via email, in a meeting, or by dress, I wish I had taken a class that taught me these know-how’s that could help me keep the job I had worked so hard to get.
4) Forced Internship. “Internship” seems like such a taboo word for some of us now that are no longer in school. But internships are a great way to get your foot into the door of a new industry. Over the summer, we had an intern took on one of our entry positions. He was in his early 30s and decided on a different career path. The internship was a 12-week program with no promise of a full-time position. My company was going through a very difficult quarter and was experiencing turnover and layoffs as a result. Because of this, the intern had to take on more roles and responsibilities. He stuck it out. And when the time came, he was offered a full-time position. Don’t be afraid to take risks! Younger people who build their resume through internship experiences stand a better chance of securing a job because of their use of social media.
3) Resume Building. As an undergrad, I saw little to no reason to build a resume while I was still in school. I also thought I had a very practical reason for not doing so, in that I didn’t feel I had any relevant professional experience. Now that I am in the job force, I’ve learned that any experience you put on your resume can be turned into valuable insight for the employer looking to hire you. I had a colleague of mine who had a gap year and went to New Zealand to pick grapes and work the farmlands. There, she communicated with the locals and negotiated work contracts. At first sight this seems like a “funemployment” exploit. However, she made use of her soft skills which are so rarely highlighted in a resume. She demonstrated the ability to take risk by living abroad for a year, a strong work ethic by getting her hands dirty (literally), and communication prowess by utilizing her negotiation skills. Not bad for a day in the New Zealand sun.
2) How to look for a job. This sounds simple but in truth, I only learned about the ins and outs of sites like Monster and LinkedIn, when it finally came time for me to look for a job. Now there is a plethora of ways to search for jobs through the internet, more specifically through the dynamic vehicle of social media. How do you build a profile on a job site? How do you brand yourself and establish an online presence? According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), more and more college career centers are posting content on social media and are finding an increase in engagement from their student users. If it works for them, why can’t it work for you?
1) Networking. If you were at all involved with any campus organizations you know that meeting and connecting with people is the way to find opportunities. These days it’s easy to “friend” someone on Facebook and keep in touch. Think about how many times have you asked for advice on Facebook and in about half an hour got at least 10 responses? Imagine what the power of that is like if you knew someone in your network who worked at a company you’ve had your eye on? Leveraging that relationship and asking the right pointed questions could be the difference between just a friend on Facebook and the referral that helps you achieve the job of your dreams. If you only know someone in the virtual world, remember that you are asking for information – not a job. Don’t eliminate your chances of finding out about a future job opening by being too pushy. Current college students should also make it a point to connect with recent alum who have been in the job force for 1-2 years. This is a great way to establish connections outside of school and getting a feel for the current job market.
Your resume is polished and you’ve posted yourself to all the job sites – how is it that you’re still jobless? Out of all these points, networking is one that never stops because in a sense, it’s always “on.” So don’t be discouraged! Here’s another great blog with valuable networking tips. At the end of the day it’s not what you know – it’s who you know.