The Ultimate Back-to-School Checklist That’ll Propel Your Career

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Summer barely started before all the big brands began marketing for back-to-school: back-to-school donations, back-to-school clothes, back-to-school supplies. The list goes on and on. Heck, even drug resistant lice made it on the back-to-school search results list.

What didn’t make the list?  College student back-to-school career prep advice.

Do you know only 20% of students at the time of graduation felt very prepared to join the workforce last year?

Some other scary stats: Only 35% of students felt college effectively prepared them for the job market, and only 20% felt adequately prepared for the workforce.  Yikes!

Although millennial students need to do much more than their Gen X predecessors to ensure they land a job after college, it is possible.

According to a recent study conducted by Robert Half, there’s a demand for skilled talent: “Nearly two-thirds of employers – an all-time high – plan to increase starting salaries for bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015, and 51% report they will offer signing bonuses to these graduates.”

Want to be among the students who get a full-time job offer?  These three things will get you there. And you need to start doing them now, before back-to-school season ends.

 

  1.      Leverage relationships with your college professors to jump-start your career.   

College professors can serve as your most influential networking resource. It’s not even all that difficult to get your professor to become your biggest ally.

Professors can offer you so much more than a grade. They can write you reference letters, help you maximize your networking efforts, and even personally refer you to a colleague who’s in need of an intern or apprentice.

Professors know people in high places—they’ve got connections, believe it or not.

Here’s how to build a relationship with your professor that you can leverage when the time comes:

Visit your professor regularly during office hours. Spare 30 minutes out of your week to have an office meeting with your professor. Write your paper a week early (collective gasp!) and get notes from your professor for improvements. This will show ambition and drive (it’ll also improve your grade). Pop in to chat for five minutes about the text the class just went over in the lecture that week. Ask one engaging question or share an insight you had and ask if you’re on the right track. Most importantly, have integrity. If you schedule a meeting with a professor, keep it. The quickest way to destroy a relationship with any professional is to waste their time.

In short, get your professor to know who you are and to remember who you are by showing interest in his class. They’re in the business of helping people.  Take advantage of that (you’re paying for it, after all).

  1.      Befriend students in the graduate program to maximize networking opportunities.

Graduate students are the up-and-comers. They typically have strong relationships with professors—the PhDs—and with the university’s academic staff.

The soon-to-be MFAs or MBAs may not have all the connections that your professors have, but they can offer you something just as valuable: relevant hang out spots.

Graduate students know where they need to be and when they need to be there. They’re in the know. They know the best indie bookstores where publishers hang out, they know where and when the invite-only tech conventions are being held, etc.  Get in good with the graduate students, and you’ll find out where you need to be.

Here’s how to connect with the grad students:

If you’re taking a lower-division course, it’s likely taught by a grad or PhD student. If you’re not sure, you can easily find this out. Read the “about the instructor” page of the syllabus or simply look up the instructor online. Go to your university’s online directory under the faculty section, the class registrar, or just do a Google search.

If your large lecture class has a TA, he’s probably a grad student. Ask to meet the TA for office hours to review your notes, ask questions, or just to make sure you’re understanding the lectures. Come to these meetings prepared. Grad students tend to be more critical (and more outspoken) than professors.  Grad students teach and study.  They have less patience for time-wasting than professors. These relationships need to be nurtured. Don’t blow it by not taking them seriously.

  1.      Get the fall calendar from your school’s career center to become workforce ready.

Your school’s career center offers workshops, seminars, career fairs, and industry specific career panels. And they list everything on their online calendar.

Get the career center calendar and compare it to your class schedule. Mark the career events that aren’t taking place while you’re in class (there will likely be several weekly). Put every single career event that you’re free to attend in your calendar and enable push-notifications and reminders (setting reminders a day before and two hours before work best).

Take notes at each event. Purchasing a note-pad that you can designate exclusively to the career center events will help you to get the most out of this.

Do this each semester and by the time you graduate, you’ll be included in the jaw-dropping percent of students who are killing it with their careers.

written by Cari Stark

Cari Stark is a recent college graduate and the Marketing Manager for College Works Painting, a college internship that equips students with the necessary skills and experience to land their dream job when they graduate. Land an internship in less than 30 days with this free step-by-step guide.

 

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