Graduation season is in full effect and many students are putting forth efforts to figure out their next move while on summer break. For some, a break from school means more time for family vacations, best friend outings and social gatherings. While taking a mental break from the study sessions, group projects and daily structure of going from class-to-class is an excellent step for students to recharge, it’s also important for collegiate professionals to carve out time to get ahead in their career.
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), college students and employers differ on how well prepared today’s young professionals are for the workforce. Employers feel that college graduates are falling behind in a number of key areas such as oral communication, written communication, critical thinking and being creative. To help today’s college students stay on track with meeting the expectations of hiring managers, below are four career building tips young professionals should put into practice this summer.
1. Attend a professional development conference: Several professional organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Black Accountants, ColorComm and many more hold summer conventions that bring together hundreds of industry professionals from across the nation. Attending these events will allow college students to rub elbows with potential mentors, colleagues and HR professionals who can help them land their next internship or first job. Before registering for these conferences, be sure to check out the student discounts that some of these organizations offer.
2. Intern: While interning is a common tip given to college students, it can not be stressed enough how valuable an internship experience is to the career success of young professionals. Internships not only help students get their foot in the door of whatever industry they hold an interest in, but it also allows them to get an inside view of what it takes to succeed in that field and it helps them to build their network of industry contacts.
3. Shadow an industry professional for a day: For some college students, taking an unpaid or low-paying internship is not an option for them. For those who are in this position, reach out to someone with years of experience in your industry and see if they are open to being shadowed for a day. Not only will this experience allow you to gain insight on the daily tasks needed to succeed in your career field, but it will also show your eagerness to get a foot in the door by any means possible.
4. Do your homework on the leaders of your industry: Carve out a few days of your summer to look at the top power players in your career field and see what steps they took to attain their career success. While everyone’s journey will be different, reading other people’s career stories can provide you with an idea of what direction you should be looking in for internships and work experience. If you’re able to find the contact information for any of these professionals, reach out to them for some quick career advice and if they are in your local area see if they are free to meet for coffee. If an in-person meeting takes place, be sure to follow-up with a thank you note or email.