Preparing for the Real World: College and Career Readiness

You’ve made it this far in college. You’ve survived everything that everyone warns you about. The all-nighters, the stress, the professors, the exams. All of those daunting things are behind you.

Or you’ve dealt with them enough for them to not really phase you anymore. Here’s your next daunting task: finding a job.

Many studies have concluded that Millennials, the generation group that’s aged 18-33 right now is the most stressed age group.  And a lot of the reasoning behind that is the terrible job market that we’re graduating into.

Past generations were able to find stable, well-paying jobs without a college degree, and if they had a college degree, they were practically guaranteed a job. More and more people with college degrees and loans to pay back are struggling to pay those loans back on minimum wage positions.

Scared yet? Yeah, so am I.

I’m a year away from graduation and I’m preparing as much as I can for my job search. The ways to prepare for your upcoming search vary from major to major, but if you’re in a liberal arts field, like me, here are some of the ways that I’m prepping myself for the “real world,” and I don’t mean the MTV show.

  • Search for internships

Like I said in a past post, in order to get a job, you need experience, and in order to get experience, you need a job. This chicken and egg situation can usually be solved by an internship.  Beefing up your resume is a surefire way to get you ahead of the game, usually having you considered for a position before someone who has no experience in the field outside of their schooling.  While most internships, at least in liberal arts fields, are unpaid, others can help you make some money on the side as well. It also helps get your foot in the door if you’re interning for a company that you’d like to work for someday.

  • Put together a portfolio

It’s important to have a portfolio of all of the work you did in college that you’re proud of. Not all interviewers will ask for a portfolio, but it can’t hurt to give them one anyway. If you’re going into graphic design, take screen shots of awesome work that you’ve done. If you’re going into journalism, save all of the published work you’ve had, and show them the ones that you’re most confident in.

  • Get your resume checked out

The standards for resumes are constantly changing. While it might not be detrimental to your job search to use a resume that’s not completely modern, why do that if you don’t have to?  Have a professor or two who work in the field you’re looking into check out your resume and give you corrections. They might polish it up just enough to get you noticed.

  • Establish connections

Though you may not be eligible for some jobs without a degree, you can still chat up people in those positions, so that you’re a familiar name when they’re flipping through their pile of resumes. Check out job fairs and give recruiters a resume stating that your degree is in progress. They might even call you about an internship. There’s no way of knowing until you try it.

  • Get yourself some references

Always have a list of references handy whether you’re searching for an internship or job. Establish a good relationship with professors and employers you may have had in the past to put on your reference list. Use people that you know will give you a spectacular review. Be sure to know their full name, company name, email address, and phone number.

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.

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One Response to “Preparing for the Real World: College and Career Readiness”

  • Kassi Luja on February 27, 2013

    Great post! I’m already getting nervous with just one year left of college. Not knowing where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing post-graduation is a little nerve-racking. Getting an internship is a crucial step. It’ll get you connections outside of school and give you the experience you’ll need and use in the future. Putting together a portfolio is also important. Keeping it up to date is also important. I started an online portfolio a while back but I haven’t updated it in a while … something I need to do soon!

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