We’ve all been there: it’s your senior year of college and you’re terrified that you’re not going to get a job when you graduate. You wake yourself up at night thinking about moving back in with your parents or working at the local diner. It’s a vicious world out there, but don’t fall into the habitual notion that the business world is out to get you. You can make yourself a valuable asset while you’re in school, and it has NOTHING to do with what classes you take, how well you do, or which program you’re in. Here are some useful tips I have learned along the way, and if you have some of your own, I would love to hear them!
First Year Goal
Work in the service industry. I know it sounds horrible. If you have worked in the service industry and are rolling your eyes thinking, “why did she put this in here, everyone works in the service industry during college,” here is a valuable fact: most students don’t work during college. I know, it’s a crazy concept, but some kids are on scholarship, have parental help, or are too interested in social activities. I’m not judging those people, but in the service industry, you learn a lot about people. You learn how people act, what their tendencies are, what makes them upset, and how to console them. Also, can we talk about how you totally loose your ego as a waitress, barista or retail employee? This is extremely valuable when you leave college, you need to know what the real world is like outside your college-kid-bubble.
This should be your “get a service industry job” year.
Second Year Goal
Find a way to cut your spending in half. You have had a job for a year now, and you know how much you spend daily–now let’s think savings. Don’t accept frivolous financial help, and see if you can really do college “alone.” Here is the thing: it’s a right of passage to struggle with money in college. Ramen and cement block T.V. stands are just a fact of life in college, and with the right planning, you can actually learn a thing or two about money. Here are some questions to ask yourself: how much do I spend on myself, and how can I cut that in half? How can I pay for school essentials, food and rent, while still putting money aside in savings? What is my plan financially for after college? Don’t expect to be good at this when you start, this is why you start thinking financial in your second year, it gives you some time to get everything figured out by the time you’re on your own.
This should be your “get your financial plan in order” year.
Third Year Goal
Get to know your teachers, students and acquaintances that HAVE CONNECTIONS. Think about all of the people you interact with on a daily basis that have connections to the jobs you want and start building relationships with them. Ask for help from them and see if they have an entry level job that you can start now. Have you ever wondered how people get jobs with the snap of their fingers–it’s because they know the right people. Be friendly, don’t burn bridges, and make the most of your social group.
This should be your “learn how to network” year.
Fourth Year Goal
At this point, you should be a master of customer service, financial planning and networking. Don’t freak out if you’re not, there is still time (obviously). Use this year to think seriously about what you are doing after college, and then once you’ve decided, find internships, entry level jobs, schools, and all the things you have to do to get there. Don’t let anything be a surprise. I have talked a lot about how and why I got the internship with ICB Inc, but I cannot stress enough what it has done for me. This internship has solidified my plan of becoming a writer in the fashion industry after college, and it makes me think even further into the future. If you don’t think an internship is right for you, find something that is. Whether it’s going into trade school, applying to graduate schools, taking a year to yourself, etc. make sure you know what you want.
This should be your “figure out what you want” year.
As always, I love writing these articles for you guys. If you have any comments, questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask. What did you do in college that has made you who you are today? What advice do you have for people still in school?