Career planning tips for students

The idea of career planning is very intimidating to many college students. Whether you’re a freshmen and not entirely consumed with taking the right steps, or a senior facing the imminence of post-collegiate life, the thought of career development can fill students with varying levels of fear.

Rather than approach your career with fear and intimidation, be proactively positive and confident. The experience and knowledge you acquires during your college years, both in and out of the classroom, will develop skills that will be applied in careers and employment settings.

Suggestions for being proactive with your career planning.

Meet college leaders
Getting to know college administrators is always a great idea. They have your best interests at hand and are there to help. Many of them are plugged into industry leaders, businesses, research, and events. Developing active relationships with administrators should lead to better academic performance, job and internship leads, employment referrals, and great advice. Be sure to make contact with school leaders on a regular basis.

Establish a career profile
Studies show that 40% of job connections happen through private, niche job boards. Job-seekers who create online profiles through career-focused websites, increase their chances of getting recognized by potential employers. In addition, creating the profiles, enables each job-seeker to continually review and revise resumes, recent achievements, and campus/community involvement.

Meet chapter alums
Among the many benefits of joining fraternities and sororities is the ability to connect with alumni/ae. These people have graduated college and pursued careers, and can provide advice, mentoring, and referrals. By developing relationships with chapter alums, you’ll definitely increase chances of making ideal career connections.

Join campus clubs and organizations
Getting the most out of the college experience will definitely make a career planning difference. Joining additional campus organizations exposes you to different ideas, cultures, viewpoints, leadership styles, campus leaders, and connections. Employers look for leaders and believe campus leadership experiences speak volumes about candidates. Be sure to become actively involved in campus organizations beyond your fraternity or sorority.

Get your resume reviewed
Crafting a resume can be challenging enough for many people. Having it critiqued by others can also be overwhelming or intimidating, However, having your resume reviewed by industry experts, campus leaders, and peers can amplify the appeal of your resume. Please note that these experts may be looking for quality talent. By having these professionals review your resume gives provides a great opportunity to receive exceptional feedback and develop strong relationships. Be sure regularly updating your resume and have it reviewed by leaders.

Attend career fairs
Having employers come to you…rather than you to them…how can you go wrong? Campus career fairs present great opportunities to land jobs and internship. Unfortunately only a small percentage of students attend career fairs. Even worse, most of those students spend their time “window shopping” for employers they feel fit their best interests. Advice – even if you’re not looking for immediate employment, go to career fairs to interface with employers, develop relationship with industry leaders, and make the most of the opportunity. These people, even if you do not end up working with them, can play integral roles in your career planning and future advancement.

Get identified
Many students don’t think about jobs and internships until deadlines, like graduation, start to appear. Rather than wait and hope to get noticed by employers, it’s best to take the proactive approach and seek to be recognized. Once identified by employers as a full-time or internship candidate, even if you’re not actively seeking employment, can help you start developing relationship with those potential employers.

Visit the career center
A recent NACE study revealed that 40% of students know there’s a career center on their campus. The same study showed roughly two out of five students don’t use campus career centers due to apathy. These centers provide students a wealth of career planning resources, including resume and cover letter writing, job search tips, interviewing information, and workshops. They also help connect students to employers. Students taking advantage of campus career centers definitely boost their career planning potential.

Participate in workshops
Career workshops take place several times each semester. From resume writing to interviewing to etiquette, the workshops are designed to provide great information. Active participation in the workshops will alert facilitators, campus leaders, and professionals of your strong interest, which helps with references and additional career planning attention.

Attend professional events
Students seeking to set themselves apart from others go a step or two beyond. Many attend industry related conferences and workshops. These educational opportunities are hosted or facilitated by industry leaders and provide valuable information. In addition to learning, students can interface with the speakers and attendees to develop professional connections. These same organizations coordinate networking receptions, presenting incredible opportunities to develop relationships with industry leaders, many of whom may be actively seeking new talent.

Network with industry experts
Why wait for potential employers to come to you, when you can proactively meet them? There are professional associates in every city. There are also membership associates affiliated with most, if not all, industries. Most of the associations host networking receptions, where leaders connect to discuss business, share trends, and exchange information and contacts. These receptions present ideal opportunities for students to interface with leaders.

Meet young professionals
Networking to enhance your career planning can reap big rewards. Making connections with local young professionals will enable you to get first-hand knowledge of career planning best practices from those who are at the beginning of their own careers, but one or two steps ahead. In addition to valuable tips, young professionals will have insight on jobs and internships which may soon available.

You’re likely already participating in volunteer activities with your Greek organization, but you might try participating in volunteer activities on your own and with industry-related organizations and related causes. You’ll do your part to make a difference, and the people with whom you volunteer might be business owners and industry leaders. Working side-by-side will allow you to demonstrate your skills, characteristics, and integrity, and enable you to develop meaningful relationships.

Network with fellow Greeks
We know you’re already connecting with fellow Greeks, but include conversations about career interests and plans. While you’ll have lifelong relationships with fellow chapter members, it’s quite possible you’ll make career connections through friendships you develop right there on campus. Plus, if you eventually live in the same communities, you’ll undoubtedly continue your relationships through business-to-business interactions and community leadership.

Polish your image
Have fun during college. It’s the ideal time to soak in knowledge, learn about yourself, understand the beliefs and backgrounds of others, and try new things. It’s also a time to develop your personal brand. As you do so, pay very close attention to your online brand. Photos and commentary which your mother wouldn’t approve are best left off of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social networking sites. That said, use these opportunities to showcase the true you…goals, interests, friends, involvement, and college pride. In addition to your family, potential employers will search your profiles on each of these to craft their own impressions of you.

Participate in mentoring programs
Career mentors are invaluable resources. Whether they’re chapter, Greek or campus alumni/ae or parents, these professionals provide exceptional advice, share best practices, and help open doors. If afforded the opportunity, be sure to enroll in career mentoring programs.

Recognizing the majority of college students do not proactively approach career development, these recommendations are tailored for those wishing to separate themselves from fellow students and other job and internship candidates.