A lot of college students don’t start thinking about their post college professional life until their senior year. Many don’t even start until graduation is a week away (or it’s already passed) and they need to find a job a.s.a.p. The common misconception is that there is nothing a student can really do while in school outside of a summer internship that can help them prepare for the road after college and an internship in their chosen field is the only way they will be able to show some sort of professional qualifications.
While it’s certainly true that an internship goes a long way in helping a student get a job, it’s not the only method that graduating students have to stand out to a potential employer or gain experience. Volunteering is always a great way to get noticed. It doesn’t have to be in your profession of choice, even helping at something purely philanthropic like a soup kitchen is great, and it shows employers that you’re committed to more than just yourself. It also gives you the opportunity to network with other professionals that may volunteer as well which can lead to references and networking opportunities.
Students also have the opportunity to sign up with professional or pre-professional groups through their school. These organizations look great on a resume and often have speakers and networking events that can go a long way towards providing introductions to companies or industries that a student may be seeking a job in. In addition to professional groups, student groups are another alternative that can help expand a professional network. Student groups could be a running club, skiing team, fraternity/sorority, or any group that allows people to expand their network and meet others with similar interests. These groups can be very helpful when trying to get your resume out and gain more exposure particularly if any of the other group members have a contact at a company you are interested in.
Keeping yourself active and your name on people’s minds is important. A huge part of finding the job you want is networking and meeting the right people to let them know what your strong points are. While networking may not be something you can put on a resume, it helps to fill in the gaps that a resume can’t show about you and can provide you with that important introduction that can get the interview.