The first year in University can be a harrowing experience. Everything is new, with new people, new classrooms and a new way of doing things. At that time, what’s going to happen at the end of University does not come to mind as it is so far away. But Undergrads should think about the end of university life as it can help you to be more successful in your future career.
I’m not implying that you should dwell on the future, but you should put some strategies in place now, so that by the time you are ready for the job place, you have a higher chance of success.
Here are some tips that I learned from my life. Some things I did, others I wished I did. Perhaps it may help you.
1) Get involved in clubs, societies and groups
Getting involved in societies and groups helps you to build a network with like minded individuals. Close-knit groups with similar values form stronger bonds than larger groups.
Be an active member of the group, showing a willingness to help and participate in group events. It’s important that you be genuine in your attempts, and therefore you should only join groups that you feel strongly about; a non-genuine person will be quickly ostracised.
Additionally, try to be active at a leadership level. This helps to build leadership skills that employers looks kindly upon. Once you’ve been active all along, you should have no problems being elected to a position.
Action Step: Make a list of clubs, groups and/or societies that share similar interests and values as you and find out information such as how to join them, how active they are, how large they are and how often they meet. Then choose one or two groups that most fit you and join them.
2) Get part-time jobs
Universities usually have long breaks as you progress from one year to another. Instead of using that time to relax and hang out, get a job within the field or a company that you would like to eventually work. Many companies have vacation internships that allow you to work and learn on the job while also earning a bit of pocket money. The pay may not be all that, but the benefits for university grads are better. You get a job faster out of school, and you progress further at the beginning.
And don’t just get any job. Aim for a job within your field or a company that you would like to work for. You can flip burgers or sell fries to earn some money, but getting a job in a bank or tech company will look much better if your degree is within business or science.
And while you are working, ensure that you make contact with a few people at senior levels. Don’t be shy about asking them questions, seeking guidance, or letting them know that you want to work there after you graduate.
Action step: Make a list of companies that you may like to work for and find out if they have any vacation programs and how and when to apply to them. Craft your resume and send it as soon as they are taking applications.
3) Stay in touch with classmates
Your classmates may be in a similar state with you at the beginning, but they will also likely grow along with you as you progress through your career. When you are moving up the ranks, your peers will also be doing so, some faster, some slower, but always moving. At a certain stage, your classmates will be the people that you will be doing business with, and the ones making the decisions to buy your product or service.
Action Step: Form your friendships now. Don’t be a jerk.
4) Make friends with those in higher classes
It’s tempting to stay close to your peers within the same year as you, because it’s comfortable and you spend a lot of time together. However, I strongly suggest that you make friends with those at the higher levels, especially the ones who will soon be leaving. These people will be in job positions higher than you by the time you leave university and may be able to help you get jobs both after you leave university and along your entire career.
Action Step: Use your group activities to form friendships with older members. Again, don’t be a jerk.
Your networks are key
From the points above, you will notice a common thread – building a strong network. Do not confuse this with getting ‘contacts’ within a business. It’s not about nepotism, but about creating opportunities.
Networks are people who you know and trust, and who know you and trust you. Your network is there to help you become a better person and build a career.
Never abuse your network.
I hope my advice helps you in your career. Take the time now to develop your strategy for career success after graduating.
Here’s to your future success.