4 Tips for Making the Most of Your College Experience

by Rich DeMatteo on February 27, 2014 · 0 comments

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ZachGrothZach Groth is a senior at Ball State University. On the post-graduation job search himself, Zach has job experience in corporate, government, nonprofit and student-run organizations. You can tweet him any questions, concerns or blog ideas on Twitter at @zgroth.

 

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I have been criticized for not sticking to a single industry in order to gain the most experience in the field I am pursuing a degree in.  I get that.  I really do.  I understand why people think that if my degree is in public relations and marketing then I should have stuck with agency life or the most high-profile, degree-related opportunity.  If I did that I could ease into that field with two to four years of professional experience already. As I am on the job search now, which seems to be a common theme for employers to ask of recent college graduates… two to four years… How? Why? Does that even make sense? We’re college kids!

I could have those years that employers are seeking.  I have had one or two professional internships a year since my freshman year of college in 2010.  In my humble opinion, that is not how people should utilize the four precious and lightning fast years of college.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of college and easing your stress when you are looking for a big-boy job:

1. Get involved

You’ve heard this before. Get involved because…

  • “Those are the people you’re going to be working with in the future.”
  • “It will look good on a resume.”
  • “You will be active and not gain the freshman fifteen.”

While those are all great reasons to get involved at college I am here to tell you the real reason to get involved.  When you get involved you are at more of a risk to make mistakes.  When you make mistakes you learn what you dislike.  When you learn about what you dislike you learn about what you like.  When you learn about what you like you can effectively look for a mutually beneficial internship.  When you find that internship that will become the cornerstone of your career.

2. Do what you enjoy

Have fun. The line “You’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do,” is no joke!  **Everyone has to pay his or her dues.  Stay humble, do the work to the best of your ability.  Your hard work will pay off.

3. Don’t burn bridges

If you get rejected from your dream internship – it’s fine.  It’s not the end of the world.  The second you send an email back telling them that they were wrong, you’re the best choice and they will regret it… Well, don’t expect to apply to their friends (competitors).  Stay humble. Work harder. Apply next time.  It’s like a game of professional tag.

4. Don’t fluff your resume.

We all have done (or at least thought about doing) this potentially fatal mistake on your resume.  Think about it, when you fluff your resume you are essentially claiming that you can do certain actions that you may or may not have experience doing.  When you are hired for the job you will eventually have to do these actions that, again, you may or may not know how to do.   This forces you in to a situation where:

  • You stay up all night on Google and YouTube trying to learn your “already known” skill set.
  • You look stupid. Don’t look stupid.

In conclusion, college is supposed to be the best years of your life.  Have fun.  Enjoy them.  This does not mean that you don’t have to work hard.  There is a way to build your resume and professional skill set while getting the stereotypical college experience.  I have.  These four tips have guided me through college.  I have failed at all four during some point of my college career, but look at me now – two and a half months away from graduation.  I know (some)what I want to do with my life.  Now it’s just down to the exciting job of letting other people know why they should hire me!

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