Many college students are so focused on their academics that they may decide to put their career aspirations on hold until after graduation. This is understandable; while attending classes, studying for tests and doing homework, beefing up a resume may seem like a Herculean task.
Fortunately, using some creativity and taking advantage of your inherent interests and spare time, you can start working on your career goals while still in college — all while keeping up with your studies. For example, check out the following outside-the-box ideas:
Experiment with contract work
Traditionally, one of the best ways to gain real-world experience in college is through an internship. If you are not having any luck finding a paid or unpaid position, or if the companies that need interns require a larger time commitment than you can afford, consider contractual or freelance work. This is an especially good approach for entrepreneurial-minded students to test out their interests and gain needed experience for their resume.
For example, Forbes notes that Amway, the 26th largest private company in the United States, offers plenty of flexible career-development opportunities that can easily fit into an already busy schedule. Other websites that offer freelance work include Handy, Upwork (which offers both short and long-term projects), Elance and Fivrr.
Make extracurriculars count
There are typically plenty of extracurricular activities in college. As Career Builder suggests, join some organizations and clubs and take on leadership roles that you can highlight on your resume. Showing your long-term commitment to a team or club will impress potential employers with your sense of responsibility. If the extracurricular fits into your career goal in any way, all the better — for example, if you hope to go to law school, joining the speech and debate team is a nice way to show you have experience in public speaking.
Work on your technology skills
Once you graduate from college and are getting into the real world of work, chances are good you’ll use at least one type of technology. In addition to becoming familiar with Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other programs, consider creating a website or app. This is especially important if you are hoping to get into IT or a related field. When you interview, you might not have a part-time job in technology on your resume, but if you can show a snazzy and eye-catching website that you created or talk about an innovative app you invented, it will be sure to impress your future boss. As a bonus, these are projects that you can fit in and around your college work.
Never underestimate the power of networking
Another great way to start on your career path while in college is to network with anyone and everyone. Tell your folks about your work dreams and see if they know anyone who works in that industry who might be willing to talk to you over a cup of coffee. If you are working a part-time job as a barista, tell your regular customers what you hope to do — one of them may surprise you and say she does that type of work and will keep you in mind for future openings. You can also use social media to your advantage, posting about your after-school plans. Getting the word out may lead to internship and job offers.
About the author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.
Pssst! Check out The Secrets of Top Students.