Career Advice: The Big Lie Colleges Tell
"Get this degree or certificate and get a job no problem!"
"Start making $60k+ after college!"
"We'll help you find a job!"
Whether you're going to a private, public, vocational, or for profit school, they always tell students these lies. I won't go as far as saying that all counselors and professors intentionally lie, chances are they're just out of touch with reality. However the reality is, that just having that degree or certificate won't get you very far.
As a student, you need to take your career in your own hands and utilize every resource out there. Visit your campus' career center and talk to a counselor about your career path. Write your resume and include all your clubs and volunteer work. Go to career fairs. Even if you're a Freshman or Sophomore, go to career fairs. Figure out what to wear and what to say, how to present yourself to the companies that attend.
Find an internship in your field. This is the most important thing you could possibly do while in school. This will be your experience when you graduate. That part-time fast-food or retail job is not going to count for your professional experience. Don't get me wrong, it's good that you've done that, it shows some level of responsibility and work ethic, but it's not enough.
This applies to all industries. Recruiters don't care if you just graduated with your degree in business, marketing, communications, or nursing. How does that separate you from the other graduates that year? How does that make you stand out? It doesn't, it only meets the basic requirement of the job.
Fun fact: for the 2013-2014 school year, US colleges and universities are anticipated to award 943,000 Associates Degrees and 1.8 million Bachelor's Degrees.
Mom and Dad don't want you to work, you need to focus on school? That's great, but a 4.0 GPA and no relevant work experience will not get you a career, and you'll stay living with mom and dad probably for a lot longer than any of you would like. College is supposed to help prepare you for the real world. What better way to do that than start applying what you've learned to the real world? Still not buying it? Have them contact me.
What about all the young professionals who decide school isn't for them and don't go or end up dropping out? How do they find jobs? Experience. They might struggle because a lot of jobs require some kind of higher education, but experience in many cases will trump the degree.
I'd love to hear from you! What are your success stories? Tell me in the comments any internships or experience that helped you start your career or land your dream job!