How to Prepare to be a Professional: Student Story
As college students, we realize attaining a degree is vital to our careers. What many of us might not realize, though, is that our future employers will expect us to have skills that aren’t always found in our course requirements. For example, I have taken some additional steps, from joining extracurricular activities to pursuing internships, to prepare myself for my future career in business.
Here are some tips to help you learn some of the skills you need beyond your classroom studies:
Do your research
Your first step is to spend some time researching what specific job opportunities might interest you and what kinds of skills they will require. It can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have numerous options and an open mind, but the right position is out there!
Practice communicating professionally
It is not appropriate to use abbreviations or slang in professional communications. Also, since email is such a widely-used tool for communication, you should create a professional email address if you do not have one already. This should consist of a variation of your first and last name; silly nicknames are not appropriate.
Start building your professional network
LinkedIn is a great tool for connecting with other professionals in your desired field. Here’s how you can make your LinkedIn profile stand out:
- Carefully fill out each section with information about your education, work experience and career interests. Avoid skipping sections, as all the information you provide will be valuable for networking.
- Your profile picture should be professional (i.e. professional dress, de-cluttered background, no selfies!).
- Once you have a complete profile, start connecting with people! Make sure you have plenty of quality connections, so you can re-connect with them about future opportunities.
Join appropriate extra-curricular activities
Throughout my college career, I have immersed myself in some fantastic extra-curricular activities that have provided me with hands-on experience in my field and led to some great networking opportunities. My experience with DECA, an organization for college students interested in marketing and finance, has helped prepare me for my future career in business.
If you don’t know which organizations are right for you, reach out to your career advisor to see what campus offerings might align with your professional goals. Your involvement in these organizations will help you build your resume and will set you apart from other job candidates.
Jobs and internships are a great way to gain experience in your field. They can also help you determine if a certain career is right for you. Working at Kay Jewelers, I am getting more experience in sales. This has helped open my eyes to another career path that I could pursue in the future. While I highly recommend searching for an internship opportunity, there are jobs out there that can provide valuable experience as well. Both options can be very worthwhile if you take the time to find the right opportunities.
Start your internship or job search by inquiring about opportunities on campus or talking with your career advisor. You can also try websites like Snag-a-Job or Indeed.com to easily search for jobs or internship postings.
You’re on the right track to a successful future, but it’s important to remember that preparing for your future entails more than just walking across the stage on graduation day. With some extra effort, you’ll be even more prepared to start your career!
Magnolia Ruet (Maggie) is a Herzing University student. She will graduate with her Bachelor in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing in the spring of 2018. Previously, she completed her Associate of Applied Science in Business Management at Gateway Technical College with a 4.0 GPA. Outside of school, Maggie enjoys her job at Kay Jewelers and spending time with her family and friends.