7 steps college students should take before the job search

college women

This post appeared on YouTern.com.

My daughter entered college three years ago. This was an exciting time. But with all the negative press about college grads accumulating more debt than people have on their credit cards, it makes parents like me think about the future of our kids. Namely, will they be living with my wife and me until they’re 30?

An article by NPR.com states that in this decade US students have accumulated $829 billion in debt, with many post-grads unable to find a job because they majored in subjects that make it hard to find well-paying jobs, such as Psychology, English, and Journalism.

The article states, “There’s a tendency for very few students to enroll in particular majors that lead to jobs with very high pay, such as pharmacology.”

To someone like my daughter who loves to read and write over math and science, there may be a problem further down the career road. Needless to say, the prospect of her finding a high-paying job upon graduating is a bit unsettling for me.

College students need to prepare for the job search, and they must do so early in their college years. There are five distinct actions they need to take to prepare for their search.

Research the labor market. What is the projected job growth for 2016 and beyond? Bloomberg Business Week gives a general prediction for job growth based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reads, in part like this:

Jobs In thousands

  • Registered nurses, 1,203
  • Postsecondary teachers, 892
  • Elementary and middle school teachers, 815
  • Top executives, 808
  • Engineers, 507
  • Secondary school teachers, 474
  • Computer software engineers, 448
  • Human resources managers and specialists, 323
  • Media and communication occupations, 253

So far it looks like the choices of high-paying jobs are ones that are contrary to my daughter’s inclination for the humanities, unless she wants to pursue teaching. This will not discourage us from creating a game plan, though. If she won’t see nursing or software engineering in her future, there are other ways to approach the career search. Teaching is a noble career, but not one that satisfy her passion for Sophora, Banana Republic, and other high-priced retail stores.

Decide one’s major by their sophomore year. If a college student decides by the end of his freshman year that he wants to major in English or Communications, that will not necessarily be a problem. Not as long as he chooses a minor, such as Marketing that includes elements of Social Media. English will prove at be excellent training for his written and verbal communication skills.

Make getting internships a priority. Lately my daughter as been wondering if she wants to work as a life guard or a camp counselor during her college summers. She’s told me that getting a tan is very important to her. I’ve got news for her. That’s right, she can kiss the Life Guard job goodbye. If she’s unhappy with skin the hue of a vampire (I’m exaggerating, of course), I’ll pay for a membership at a tanning salon.

College students should be applying for an internship at, say, a small software start-up that can benefit from their extensive Facebook experience, plus their propensity to learn any social media platform that the company can use in their marketing campaign. They could also court some non-profit organizations to see a different perspective of the labor force, the sector of which I’m a member.

Dump Facebook as a social activity. From the moment a college student unloads his belongings in his dorm room, settles in with his new roommate, and prepares for the following day of classes, he’ll start a “professional” Facebook account that contains no hint of a social life. He can keep his original account and all 500 of his friends, but the new account will be the one he reveals to recruiters and prospective employers.

Connect on LinkedIn. Colleges are pushing their students to join LinkedIn. But as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water….” It is imperative that college students join LinkedIn and engage with their connections. Now is the time to get on the elevator on the bottom floor on its way up.

Their profile should represent them in a professional way, which doesn’t necessarily mean for their photo they have to wear a suit and tie or a silk blouse, jacket, and skirt. Nor are they going to have the experience to taut as if they’ve been working in the workforce for years. (This is where the internship comes in.)

Join the Society of Collegian Networkers. Whether a college student is an introvert or extravert, this shouldn’t keep them from beginning their personal networking activities. Most colleges have face-to-face networking lessons. If not, networking activities should be a mandatory course for the serious students striving to be gainfully employed by the time they graduate.

I have visions of my daughter being the vice president of her networking organization. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility for any college student. All they need to do is volunteer and put in tons of work to run the organization efficiently.

Volunteer. If the college student doesn’t have a job by the time she graduates, she’ll volunteer at the companies where she interned. This will put her a step ahead of her schoolmates in terms of skill development and networking.

My daughter’s a smart girl, so I don’t anticipate her being unemployed for very long.

I figure this career path outline will be enough for her to stomach for one discussion. I won’t be deterred from keeping her on track, because there is one motivating force behind my diligence…ensuring that she isn’t spending the next 18 years with my wife and me. I figure this will be not only a great goal to achieve, it will also prepare me for my two other children.

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3 thoughts on “7 steps college students should take before the job search

  1. Things Career Related Post author

    Amy,

    My understanding is that you can have two accounts; but if there’s a new policy, trash the one that would only cause embarrassment. In any case, ultra-personal information should be eliminated and selection of friends should be careful. The most important thing is to start a LinkedIn account in college or earlier.

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  2. Things Career Related Post author

    I suppose you and Beth are right on this one. Who am I fooling. I should have started on her in her junior year of high school. If I hit any of my steps that will be a small victory. I just want her to be better prepared for the labor force than I was when I graduated.

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