For most people, college goes by in a blink of an eye. Through all the studying and projects, you need to make sure that you get the most out of those four years. Below are the 10 things I believe all students should do before walking across that stage and getting their diploma.
1. Head to Your Career Center
Almost all schools have a career center and that should be one of your first stops during senior year. This resource is there to help you secure internships or future jobs, or even just dust off that resume from junior year. I get in contact with my career counselor at the end of each semester, sometimes more often, just to get their opinion on my resume or ask them if there are any career events coming up soon. These people need to be your best friends.
2. Join a Campus Organization
It’s hard to meet new people who have the same interest as you. However, if you join a campus organization that you are genuinely interested in, then that is already something in common that you have with other members. Joining campus organizations isn’t only a great addition to your resume, but it also gives you many opportunities to meet new people who you might have never crossed paths with on campus. Remember: strangers are just friends you haven’t made yet.
3. Use School Discounts
There is a common understanding that college students are struggling financially. Even if this isn’t true, as a student, you are entitled to a surplus of discounts that you need to make sure to tap into before graduating. Once you’ve graduated, the student discounts go with the course load.
4. Travel Abroad
College is the best time to travel because there aren’t any post-graduation responsibilities, such as a full-time job. Now, whether you decide to do a full-year abroad or are just going for a few weeks with a class, exposure to other places is always great for personal and professional development. In my case, I was unable to study abroad for a semester or year because of financial restrictions and time constraints. Still, I didn’t want to give up on the idea of going abroad and visiting a place that I’ve never been to before. I decided instead to take a travel course, which means that I am taking a course with my university and will be traveling to London and Brussels during the winter. Definitely look into the different travel opportunities your school may offer, both short- and long-term.
5. Network at Events
Network, network, network. Should I add another “network”? Networking is the best thing that you can do during professional and casual events. Networking helps you stay connected with employers and recruiters so that you can stay up-to-date on the industry and job market in that specific industry. However, it’s not only good for that; networking can help you find future mentors and friends. Nervous about how to start a conversation? Check out this article on starting and ending conversations at networking events.
6. Add Professors on LinkedIn
When going on LinkedIn, never forget to add those who already know you, like your professors. When I went on LinkedIn for the first time, I always tried to find professionals in my industry — but professors are professionals too. And when you try your hardest in class, they take notice. My marketing professor continuously tells my class that when he has connections that are searching for interns, his students are the first to know. So, never forget your professors.
7. Take a Fun Elective Just For You
Have an elective that you really want to take, but it’s not a core requirement or part of your major courses? Take it anyway. While college is about learning, it’s also about the experience. Having a course in your schedule that is for sheer enjoyment alleviates the stress of your course load and helps balance out your stress levels. So, if you’re a Marketing major, you can take that Painting class. If you’re a Dance major, don’t worry about taking that Physics course. As a Psychology major, for my finally semester I plan to take an Acting class. What fun class will you be taking?
8. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language forces your mind to think differently, especially languages that are completely outside your scope of knowledge. There are so many languages that college’s offer for class credit, and in many schools, a language is required. Try a new language and fulfill a graduation requirement, all at the same time.
9. Get an Internship
Hopefully you’ve already visited your career center (#1, remember?). There are many internship opportunities during the school year and you need to make sure to look into as many as possible. The internships can be big or small, for-profit or non-profit, corporation or start-up. The internship just needs to be somewhere you might be interested in; if you end up not liking it afterward, that’s fine too. It’s the experience that matters.
10. Make the Most of It
The final step is the hardest: make the most of these four years. They go by extremely quickly and can feel rushed. The tips above aren’t in any particular order and not all of them are required. But, at the end of those four years, if you feel that you’ve made them great, you’re already on your way for success.