A student having a full-time job offer waiting for them immediately after graduating seems like an anomaly these days. In fact, half of all millennials in the U.S. head back home after graduation, for a few months or even years before they land a job (and not just to enjoy some of Mom’s homemade lasagna that they’ve missed so much).
One reason this is happening? The ever-rising American student loan debt; which is currently the highest the U.S. has ever seen. While in theory it’s not the ideal post-graduation path, shockingly as many as 82% of parents say they would welcome their recent grad home with open arms!
Moving back home seems like a solution for saving money and beginning to pay off that debt, but fact is… 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or working a job that doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree. There’s no doubt that the U.S. needs to find a solution for the student debt crisis as soon as possible, but that’s no reason for students to not start thinking ahead. There’s a few steps you can take, while still in school, that will improve your chances of landing an internship and possibly a full-time job offer to set you up for success post-graduation.
Attend Your School’s Career Fair
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many students don’t take advantage of their school’s career fairs, especially early on in college. Most universities schedule time frames for recruiters to come and showcase their respective companies to students that are about to graduate or seeking a summer internship. I’ve personally had the most success grabbing the attention of employers at these career fairs during my early years in college. It may seem counterintuitive for a freshman or sophomore to attend a career fair intended for soon-to-be graduate, however, younger students actually stand out in the crowd.
Recruiters are always pleasantly surprised to meet freshmen or sophomores taking the initiative about their career path, regardless if they’re looking to hire someone that young. A student that is still early on in their college career can get their foot in the door by impressing these companies with higher levels of ambition, a trait that is becoming increasingly important in this competitive job landscape. If you manage to connect with the right employer, you open the door to unknown internship opportunities, and possibly a real job offer down the road!
Take Advantage of Your Alumni Network
Some students may not realize the opportunities right in front of them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to high-level executives and business owners in the community surrounding your school or hometown. Often times you’ll find that these professionals are happy to schedule brief meetings or lunches with enthusiastic students, especially if they are alumni from the same university. Networking sites like LinkedIn make it even easier to find professionals in the industries you’re interested in. Even if they don’t have an internship or full-time opportunity available at their own company, they might know someone who does. The more people you can reach out to during college, the better your odds are of finding that right opportunity. Most companies are always searching for young talent. Even if you don’t get a response, there’s never any harm in putting your name out there.
Add a Career-Planning Class to Your Schedule
Contrary to popular belief, a career-planning class might have more value than just boosting your GPA for the semester. These classes teach you certain skills that you probably didn’t learn in high school, such as drafting a proper resume, pitching to a recruiter, and interviewing techniques. While showing interest and enthusiasm for the job is important, it’s only half the battle; recruiters look for qualified and prepared individuals because as we know, the competition is stiff. A career-planning class will help you show off your best self to these companies. Additionally, the instructors often have ties to the university’s career center and access to a vast referral network. If you do well in these classes, most of these instructors are more than willing to put you in contact with professionals working in the industries you’re targeting.
Graduating from college can seem pretty intimidating, especially if you’re not sure what the future holds after you walk across that stage. You can reduce your stress and post-grad blues by taking initiative in your job hunt during your enrollment. Furthermore, by completing internships and interacting with as many companies as possible, you can figure out which career and job environment you love the most, allowing you to land a career you truly enjoy right away. Say goodbye to your old bedroom and hello to your new job!