Dear Class of 2016: Take These Steps in College to Better Prepare for Your Future
Welcome to the hallowed halls of academia. Now start planning for life in the real world.
It’s still a tough jobs market out there and likely will continue to be for some time. So it isn’t too early for freshly minted college students to start making themselves more marketable—from taking classes that polish essential skills to building a strong network.
“The size of your support network and mentoring group can often be as important as your degree,” says Rich Feller, president of the National Career Development Association, which provides programs and services for career development.
Here’s a timeline on the moves to make over the next four years:
Classes: You’ll likely be required to take certain basic courses or prerequisites for your major. But this also is the time to sharpen basic—but essential—communication skills, says Mark Brostoff, associate dean and director of Weston Career Center at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
So sign up for writing and public-speaking classes. They will help you do better on written and oral assignments in other classes. And you’ll be able to carry the skills over into your job search and professional life. Think cover letters, elevator pitches, product presentations and company reports.
Continue the foreign language you studied in high school or take on a new one. Multinational corporations often prefer job candidates who can speak multiple languages. Workers who can speak Mandarin or Arabic are in demand these days.
It’s also the time to start fostering relationships with professors or alumni who will later help with career advice and internship and job leads.