Career Advice for University Freshmen

112710-jt-dale-300x162So your parents have just invested a significant amount of money for university education. As a freshman, what can you do to make sure you get your money’s worth? How will you assure a return on your investment (ROI)? Well, here is a very important fact about university and ROI. Attending class, establishing a good GPA, and completing a major will get you a degree but NOT a job. And your degree alone will not educate you on how to transition from a student to a professional. Your degree alone will not educate you on how to build your network, establish your professional brand, and obtain and keep a job.

So, when should you begin working on your career development? Immediately! Here are 6 steps to kick start your career as a university freshman

1.Get Organized: Developing a strong, structured time management routine is crucial to being successful in university. Your first semester will set the tone for your following three or four years. It is imperative that you establish a good GPA that first semester because maintaining a high GPA is much easier than trying to bring up a low one. Being organized will also keep you healthy, reduce your stress levels, and prevent fatigue.

Work on maximizing your time between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Take advantage of free time between classes to work on homework, projects, career development, and exercise. This will free up your evenings and weekends for additional activities, rest, and relaxation. Then, spend a few hours at the end of your weekend to review and plan for the following week.

2. Schedule Periodic Meetings with A Career Coach: Because career development is a process that takes as many semesters as your established major, scheduling career coaching appointments periodically will benefit you tremendously. Every university has a career development office (at Federal University Oye-Ekiti visit the Counselling and Human Development Centre) locate it in your first semester. Then, establish a relationship with this office and keep consistent appointments with a career coach. He/she will help you plan out your professional development goals for each semester.

Would you dare wait until your final semester of university to visit your professors, attend class, and follow through with your major requirements for graduation? Of course not! So, why would you dare make the mistake of doing this with your career development? You can also book appointment with me, as small groups or individual, my contacts are at the last pages of this book. Learning to be a professional starts at freshman year and not senior year

3. Investigate Extra Curricular Activities and volunteer: Once you have identified professional interests, it is time to celebrate those interests and meet others who have those same interests. This is where extra-curricular activities come in. As a freshman, finding a community that celebrates these same interests will help you learn more about yourself, your goals and passions, and your interpersonal style. University provides an abundance of clubs and activities for students to choose from, so investigate these choices and participate starting your freshman year. This will set the stage for future leadership opportunities within these clubs or activities and will help strengthen your professional interests.

4. Create Your LinkedIn Profile: Establishing a professional on line presence begins freshman year. Yes, students need to clean up their Facebook page and even lock it down, if preferred. However, the main focus freshman year, is to establish your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a professional networking site every bit as relevant to first year university students as it is to seasoned professionals.

The difference is in the strategies used by freshman versus seasoned professionals. Freshman can research alumni, learn about their majors and subsequent careers, research those careers and the companies in which they work and learn tons about the professional world. And, the career development coaches and staff can assist freshman in building their profiles and using the site strategically.

5. Get A Mentor: Because your first year in university is a huge transition, it can be a tremendous help to build a relationship with someone a bit ahead of you. Someone who has recently been in your shoes, can guide you, give you advice and support you through this transition. This is where mentoring comes in. Ask the career development office if they can assist you in locating a mentor. Alumni can be fabulous mentors for freshman and a career coach can assist you in making connections with alumni through LinkedIn.

These are five easy steps to accomplish during your freshman year. Remember, you have made a significant financial investment to attend university, so follow these steps and you will be on your way to a gaining a huge ROI.

If you struggle to find assistance in completing these steps, or your university does not have a career development office, I am happy to help! Feel free to check out my coaching/career blog.

Culled from my book: 22 Lies you were told about the University

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