Success Strategies for New or Recent Grads
By Denene Brox
Many students head to college thinking that they signed up for a four-year delay of the real world. Students who major in socializing often miss an abundance of opportunities to develop the skills needed for success after they graduate. If you're a senior or recent grad, it's still not too late to develop these skills.
Here are some tips to jump-start your career:
Get Out of the Classroom
If your primary goal in college was to get a high GPA or to learn just for the sake of "becoming a well-rounded person," you're probably not focusing enough on skills.
"College provides access to student organizations, jobs, internships and access to adults who have something to offer," says Bill Coplin, author of 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College.
He cautions students against getting too wrapped up in scholastics that they lose sight of other opportunities. "Students are treated as if they were to become professional scholars in their fields," he says. "Hence, they spend their time learning theories of this and that, which have very little backup and are so abstract as to be meaningless in a real-world context."
Gain Solid Experience
The key is to get out of the classroom and get some practical experience on your resume. Coplin encourages students to take courses that require project- and community-based activities.
Jeffrey Allen Miller, an online news editor at Think & Ask in New York City, says that a journalism course he took in college required students to get articles published in three legitimate publications in order to get a passing grade. "Students walked away from the class with three good clips to use in their job hunt," he says.
Rethink Grad School
Still not sure what you want to be when you grow up, even after college? Don't be lulled into thinking that grad school will provide the answers.
"Don't go to graduate school unless it is a professional school and you are sure you want it," Coplin says. "Otherwise get a job or do a one- or two-year service commitment, such as Teach for America, the Peace Corps or thousands of other similar options."
Coplin says that getting a job is like graduate school, except that "you learn more, you build your resume, you can better explore your career interests and, best of all, you get paid around $40,000 instead of paying that amount to a graduate program."
Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College, agrees that skills are better-developed by working. "You'll naturally acquire the skills needed to succeed [such as diplomacy, initiative-taking and networking] by spending a few years in the workforce," she says.
"Many people do not give back to their communities, which is a big mistake both careerwise and from a personal point of view," says Coplin. "Doing good [such as doing service work] can be great for both skill development and job exploration."
Experience -- whether it's volunteer or professional -- is an essential complement to your degree for getting ahead in the world of work.