College is one of the most pivotal chapters in your life, so be sure to experience it to the fullest. It’s easy to get so swept away by your studies or your social life that you can miss out on the opportunities before you, and hindsight is always 20/20. Now’s the time to lay the groundwork for your future success in life—both personally and professionally—so check these boxes off your list to get the most value out of your tuition.
If you were to take a poll on the most important college experiences, studying abroad would take the cake by and large. The wisdom you gain is intangible. Setting off across the world with a backpack and a few books teaches you a whole new meaning of independence—one much greater than moving out of your parents’ house and into the dorms for the first time.
Whether you’re overseas for four weeks or four months, you’ll learn how to be resourceful. Mom and Dad are no longer just a phone call away; you’ll probably have to find the nearest Wi-Fi signal before you can dial back home, so you need to become best friends with your foldable paper map. There’s probably a language barrier too, which adds a layer of complication any time you need to ask for directions or check the time, so you don’t miss your departing train.
These situations might not sound like selling points, per se, but figuring out how to sort through the frustrations leads to incredible personal growth. Exposure to new cultures will also expand your perspective and foster your development as a global citizen.
It’ll cost you a good bit of money, but you’ll come back feeling like an entirely different person—and the transformation is worth every penny. Plus, when future employers see the international school listed on your transcript, you’ll be more likely to get the job than an applicant who has a similar education but lacks the worldly experience. Studying abroad also opens up opportunities for working abroad.
Join an Organization
Here’s the thing: employers want to see more than hard skills on paper. If you want to be truly successful, you need to cultivate soft skills—such as leadership and time management—that are equally as important as the material you learn in books. One of the best ways to showcase these traits is by joining an organization at your university.
There are endless possibilities you can explore, from Greek life to environmental activism, row team to the debate club. Not only will this give you the opportunity to dive deeper into your passions, but you’ll also build your network of relationships. Say, for example, your experience with activism on campus led you to pursue a career in earth sciences; there’s a good chance that someone in your organization works at the company you apply to, and they can provide a reference to help you secure the job offer.
Extracurricular activities teach social skills and universal lessons, like the value of dedication and focus. Not to mention, they’re also really fun and offer a great way to constructively spend your time with like-minded individuals. And, if you can’t find a sport, hobby, club, or some type of affiliation that sparks your interest, why not start your own? Your innovative qualities will shine, and the experience of creating something from the ground up will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Write a Resume
If you’re waiting until after you finish college to put together your resume, don’t. You should be able to hit the ground running once you have that diploma in hand, but it’s even better to get a head start a few weeks before graduation.
There should be a career center on campus with counselors who can review your resume to ensure it’s in good shape. In light of the unemployment rate at the heels of Covid19, jobs are harder to get now than ever. So you need to make sure you stand out from all the other candidates with the best formatting and buzzwords known to impress.
Even though you’ll probably want to milk your final months as a student, when graduation is on the horizon, it means that real life—and all those responsibilities therein—will be quick to follow. Be proactive by scouting for internship and career opportunities well in advance.
Most universities host career fairs that allow you to explore different employers, talk with their recruiter, and learn about the various opportunities they offer. You should also research companies in your field of interest to get a sense of their culture, salary grade, and benefits package using sites like GlassDoor. Now is also a good time to build your LinkedIn profile and switch your social media accounts to private so that curious employers don’t stumble upon less-than-flattering posts from your collegiate glory days.
If you have your heart set on a certain company, that’s great, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Be prepared for rejection and grow some thick skin because you’re bound to hear a few “no’s” as you first enter the job market out of college. Ideally, you should have experience interning to boost your employability, but you can also create a professional portfolio that showcases your work and ability.
Set Up a Savings Account
Budgeting in college is hard work. Between the cost of tuition, school supplies, rent, and all the fun experiences you share with your friends, there’s not much money left for saving. But it’s important to get in this habit now so that you can keep it up once your loans become due and payable.
You’re about to be an official “adult,” so it’s time to get your affairs in order with a college will, clean credit history, timely tax payments, and an up-and-coming savings account. It probably feels like the time flew by, but be sure to take advantage of the remaining chapter by checking off these tasks so you can derive the most value from your education.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.