… and not just any job. A good job. A job that your parents can brag about to their friends. A job that you actually might enjoy waking up for every day (a crazy concept for college students, my college self included).
I imagine most of you reading this are probably in your junior or senior year of college. Not surprising, considering that’s when 90% of college students start thinking hard about their post-grad plans. The other 10% is a mix of students who are way ahead of the game or the polar opposite.
If you’re the former, way to go! Just the fact that you’re cognizant enough to start worrying about your future at such a young age shows the kind of drive that you need to make sure you land somewhere you like. That drive may be fueled by anxiety about your future, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My only message to you don’t let that anxiety get in the way of enjoying your time in college because it’ll be over before you know it.
If you’re the latter.. the saying “better late than never” exists for a reason. Get your s— together. Yeah, you went to college to have fun, but you and I both know that’s not the only reason. This guide will help you, but only to a point. You have to want to put the work in.
Before you read any further, I want you to reflect on which of these ‘buckets’ that you fall into. Not because I want you to pat yourself on the back or beat yourself up, but because it’s the first step on your personal journey to success. Self-awareness is the single biggest predictor of future success(in my opinion). Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘Self-Awareness 101’ class that you can sign up for. You’ll have to teach yourself this lesson, but I can nudge you in the right direction.
Self awareness is understanding:
- …where you are in life and what you have to offer
- …where you want to go, even if it’s a vague idea
- …how your present actions affect your future
- …how people view you, especially those that are where you want to be
It doesn’t matter what industry you want to work in, what dreams you have for your future, or where you see your path leading. Self-awareness will only serve to help you push toward making that your reality.
Hypothetical – you’re a junior who’s done pretty well in classes so far, and just started major classes for a major that you’re just kind of into. You never really thought about joining any clubs (social clubs don’t count), and haven’t done much to build that resume outside of class.
Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. Good news is you’re right on track with nearly every college student, so it’s definitely not too late. Bad news is that no one in the ‘real’ world gives a s— if you do well in class (outside of Medical/STEM/etc. majors). The ‘real’ world is all about doing. What have youdone so far in your college experience that makes you qualified for the job you want?
If you don’t have an answer to that question, don’t fret! That’s what I’m here for. Whatever you do with your last year(s) of college, make sure you get meaningful experience! Different companies look for different things, but here’s a general rule of thumb:
Relevant job experience > relevant internship experience > relevant extracurricular/class experience = any job experience > any internship experience > grades
It’s tough to get relevant job experience while you’re still a student, so try to gun for some internships in the industry you’d like to start your career in. Best case – you love it and it turns into a job. Worst case – you figure out what you don’t want to do and what you didn’t like about it. Make sure your next internship is different!
If you’re one of the better-late-than-never’s, you’ll probably have to go for relevant job experience. Unfortunately, the only companies that’ll accept your lack of experience are either start-ups, poorly-run, or just not successful for one reason or another. You’ll probably have to cut your teeth for a year or so in a job you don’t really like to get some real experience. Parlay your experience and salary into a better and better job until you land where you want a few years down the road.
Notice a common theme between these two polar-opposite cases? There’s two.
- Self-awareness. Understanding where you are in your career whether you’re ahead or way behind is the first and most important step to getting on the path to success.
- Fail ‘til you succeed. This is so understated in today’s world that it’s almost criminal. Successful people are only praised for what they did right, but never for all the things they did wrong that led them to be the person they are. To quote a mentor of mine, “Fail fast and win big.”
Don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re mature enough to know that failing is learning, success will follow.
Diving head first into the world of full-time employment is an intimidating task for any college graduate no matter how prepared you are. Spoiler alert: most graduates don’t get a fulfilling job right out of the gate, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of reach. Apply these two principles and work really damn hard and I promise you’ll get your shot.