I recently was at the City College of New York to talk to students about how to successfully transition from College to Career. I thought that I had just given a simple presentation on what I thought they should already know about successfully securing a job offer beyond College. To my utmost surprise, the overwhelming response I received after my presentation indicated that I might have simplified a mystery code that many college students are either unaware of, have a fear of, or just have misguided perceptions about.
In outlining my easy steps to navigating the job market, I had told them that there are simply FOUR key points that they needed to be aware of to succeed out there. They include:
- College Experience
- Internships (During College or after graduation)
- Job Application
- Advanced/Specialized Degrees
Because I realized how long this article would be if I went into detail on each of the points, I decided to turn it into a series. I’d therefore explain each of my points as a part of this College-to-Career Series.
Highlight of my Presentation: Everyone in the room seemed so shocked when I told them that being unemployed or having a part-time job at this time is the greatest asset they may have, and that I did not really believe in full-time jobs anyway. Their confused faces asked and wondered ‘HOW’? I will explain this more extensively in my next series on Entrepreneurship, so that I do not derail from my topic.
These were the steps I gave them in order to successfully navigate the job market.
Your College experience must be an all rounded one. It is your best opportunity to explore different interests, establish gainful partnerships and sample different career paths. Thus, Maximize it.
Participate in more than academics, without forgetting that it remains priority. Dabble into new horizons. Take that fun class, join that weird club, volunteer for an absurd cause. ‘Just do it’, like Nike would say. This is because:
- Most business partnerships are formed in College, and you do not know where you’d meet that one person who might change your life socially, academically, professionally, etc.
- Your experiences also enrich your resume, showing you as a daring person who is willing to learn and try new things. To an employer, those translate into an employee who is not scared of taking on and completing new tasks, and one who is flexible to go beyond one’s comfort zone to acquire new skills.
As a College student, I did it ALL. I majored in biomedical engineering, served as a Colin Powell Fellow on Leadership and Public Policies; was a musical theater minor, liberal arts honors student, president of the 3 most active student clubs, involved in the Undergraduate Student Government, masterminded the origination of CCNY Idol and the likes, directed several African school plays and hosted the largest edu-tainment events on campus, among other things.
I loved it all and more.
All these, while I worked full time and was also a fulltime student involved in about 5 different research projects at different times during my College experience. Yes it could be done. I did it and there are several others who do even more. At the time, I did not realize how important these things would have been after I graduated. They opened several job opportunities and avenues for me; from policy building to Biotech/Pharmaceutical sales, to entry level biomedical/quality engineer, etc.
I chose to teach College Math instead, because apart from being conveniently close by and paid well, it was a part-time job which gave me room to pursue my other passions outside of work. That choice gave birth to Re:LIFE Inc, Black:Higher, Re:ACT Studios, and many more initiatives that I am currently involved with.
So in order for one to succeed in the job market, it is necessary that one take relevant classes and electives, actively participate in several other things, and engage in choices that will:
- Increase communication and writing skills
- Enhance understanding of human and organizational behavior, or other organizational interests (pick an organizational niche)
- Acquire other unique skills like inter-major research methods, technology, theater etc; skills that will not only make you more marketable, but will also enhance your success directly or indirectly in the work place.
Your ability to articulate your experience or interest will make you more appealing to employers. This is because many employers constantly seek people who are not only confident about their experiences, but can effectively express themselves.
It is therefore very important to go through College with the intention to successfully transition to the workplace after graduation, with more than just an impressive academic background.
So enjoy your college experience, engaging in activities that in your opinion will enhance your marketability after graduation.This is a part of a Series, which is continued under Internships, Advanced Degrees and Job Application. Please share your comments and feel free to add to the list. Also check out other Blogs where I share my insights and opinions: Re:WORD Blog Re:LIFE Inc’s Blog
Sincerely, Chike Ukaegbu