My final semester of college flew by with a blink of an eye. Most of my time was spent doing homework, fulfilling my internship, working and panicking about life after graduation. Looking back, I’ve learned a few helpful takeaways for college students in their last semester.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Asking questions helps ease the nervousness, uncertainty and curiosity of life after college and in the professional world. Whoever you talk to will provide even more information than the questions you’ve asked, helping to clarify things you’ve never thought of. Ask anything! Ask people about their experience after graduation,any advice they have, what helped them through their transition, what didn’t, what to look forward to after college, etc. Ask as many people as you can: friends, coworkers, professors, siblings, parents and so on. Everyone has different experiences after graduation, so the more people you talk, the more stories, advice, support and encouragement you will receive.
Get an Internship
I knew an internship was an important part of college, but I never applied for one during my four years at MSUM. What I found is that it is never too late for an internship… even during your last semester.
Internships help you:
- Gain knowledge of the working world
- Provide experience you can take with you after graduation
- Discover what you like and don’t like
- Find jobs you have never heard of and may find interesting
- Figure out the job you may have liked is not for you
- Create opportunities to land a job through your internship
Overall, internships can help you feel more comfortable and confident that a professional job after college may not be as scary as you imagined.
Entry-level jobs often start at a lower pay scale, so it is important to budget your money in case of emergency and accept the fact that your new paycheck may be very different than your part-time job paycheck. For me, and many other college students, saving money can cushion the transition from fast cash at a serving job to a biweekly paycheck. It is also easier to add money to an already-existing savings.
Take Advantage of Your Free Time
Days off in college usually mean no class, no homework, no work, no responsibilities. If there is one thing I’ve learned from recent college graduates, it is to soak up any and all the free time you are given. This can be done by binge-watching Netflix, going out on weeknights for college specials, read the book you’ve been “reading” for months, take a nap (or five), volunteer, spend time with family and friends, sleep in until noon, etc. Basically do everything that is difficult to do while having a full-time job.
Search for a Job
Some classes may help you prepare for the job search, but make time to do it on your own as well. Talk with friends who have jobs or connections with jobs you are interested in. Ask a professor, advisor, or current manager for suggestions or to be a reference. Search the internet and ask about job opportunities at your current job or internship.
Network as Much as Possible
Networking is a great way to find jobs and it can be done anywhere! You can network at school, job fairs and work. Creating a LinkedIn account can help you stay connected with professionals you have met throughout the years. Many colleges offer help with starting a LinkedIn account; utilize those services. Take the business card people hand you, introduce yourself to people and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. Ask about job and internship opportunities and keep in touch with the people you have met.
While these six takeaways are what I’ve learned from August to December, there are many more you can add to the list. Don’t rush time during college, appreciate the hard work and dedication you’ve put into your future during the past several years. If you’re like me, your upcoming graduation might have you nervous, uncertain, near tears and down right terrified. It also makes you feel accomplished, worth all of your hard work and excited for the future that lies ahead. Take time to reflect on your failures and successes, and eagerly move forward to life after college.
Feature photo via hcpss.org