Weekly 5: Five steps from college to career

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College seems to be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. On top of seemingly endless tests, quizzes and projects, students have to figure out what they want to be when they “grow up” and do the best they can to make a name for themselves in their chosen fields.

Making the transition from college life to a career (let alone picking one) can be daunting, but there are several things college students can do to alleviate their anxiety.

1. Look ahead

Whether a freshman or a senior, students can take steps to prepare for a successful career after college. By researching companies to potentially complete an internship with, getting involved with clubs and organizations related to a particular field, students can give themselves a distinct advantage early on. The BYU Career Services office also helps students in all stages of their academic career.

“We sit down with students from freshman up to senior and help them explore possibilities and options,” said Vaughn Worthen, career counselor in the BYU Career Services office. “Most students have some idea of what they want to do, but they need help figuring out how to get internships, getting their resumes ready, conducting mock-interviewing, learning networking strategies, so they can go out and explore career opportunities.”

2. Gain experience

Part-time work, volunteer work and internships are all beneficial to a student’s marketability. Apart from job-related experience, it is also vital to get experience looking for jobs. Mock interviews can help students become comfortable answering questions on the spot. Barbara Thompson, career counselor in the BYU Career Services office, emphasized the importance of starting.

“Start early,” Thompson said. “It takes time to be able to interview well and to be able to write a resume well. The earlier (students) start, the better off they will be.”

Having your resume critiqued by a career counselor or a professional in your field multiple times is important. Taking time now to practice interviewing or working early on your resume can pay off.

3. Network

Students have all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Networking with other students and professionals in a given field can make the difference in taking a student’s career to the next level. Jared Colton, an accounting graduate student, focused on networking as a student, which ultimately helped him get an internship with Coca-Cola.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to people and establish a network,” Colton said. “They are more than willing to help you if you reach out.”

Students can take advantage of opportunities in school to help transition to life after graduation. The Take a Cougar to Lunch program allows students to meet with alumni who are willing to give free advice.

4. Utilize on-campus resources

BYU allows students many opportunities for career preparation. The advisement center in the Wilkinson Center offers counseling on choosing a major. The Career and Academic Success center right next door offers career testing and information. The next door down holds the Career Services office where students can go for one-on-one counseling with career experts. At the end of the hall, the Student Employment Center is a valuable resource for finding an on-campus job. All of these services are free, and students who take advantage of them can launch themselves into a career after college.

5. Get connected

Establish an online presence on LinkedIn. Connections made can pay off invaluably. It’s important to create a strong profile, using key words and phrases that focus attention on your strengths. Senior Cory Hill, Japanese major from Stockton, Calif., has a goal to get 500 LinkedIn connections before he graduates in April.

“Whether we want it to or not, our world is becoming more digital and having a professional LinkedIn account is very important,” Hill said.

Hill said he has spent more than 40 hours working on his LinkedIn profile. He said it has paid off as he’s received offers from multiple companies.

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