A practical college action plan to prepare for employment in the real world

by Grace

The Wall Street Journal offers a practical college action plan to help prepare students for employment in the real world after graduation.


Here are some of my favorites:

  • Start during freshman year to think about what will enhance your chances for employment after graduation.  Developing relationships and polishing communication skills should start on day one.
  • Even if you are unable to secure an internship during your first two summers, look for jobs or volunteer activities that add practical experience and networking opportunities in your field of interest.  For example, if you’re considering a healthcare career you could apply for a clerical position in a hospital.
  • Learn practical math skills.  Even basic accounting knowledge can be applicable in many jobs.
  • Focus your time on a few extracurricular activities where you can stand out instead of on many where you’re just a face in the crowd.
  • Network, network, network.  Continually work on developing relationships with professors, alumni, and working professionals.

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8 Comments to “A practical college action plan to prepare for employment in the real world”

  1. “Declare a major in your junior year???? Are they serious?”

    Yeah, that jumped out at me, too. It’s not that great an idea in the liberal arts, either.

    Here are some other issues:

    1. It seems pretty backward to be finding your mentor freshman year and declaring a major junior year.

    2. Freshman year is a better time to get involved with a club or team, although lots of people overdo their extracurriculars at college, so proceed with caution.

    3. How do you go about forming relationships with alumni as a college student?

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  2. I came to comment on the “declare a major” error, but see everyone already noticed that the WSJ was being totally stupid. As for “3. How do you go about forming relationships with alumni as a college student?”, they’re just trying to get cheap bartenders (or prostitutes?) for their reunions.

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  3. “How do you go about forming relationships with alumni as a college student?”, they’re just trying to get cheap bartenders (or prostitutes?) for their reunions.”

    Ewww. A sophomore is probably around 19 years old, so bartender would be out. That leaves your other option…

    The only thing I could figure on that one was using clubs to network with alumni–for instance, inviting prominent alumni to speak on campus, to the club or to a larger audience. I’ve seen undergraduates get very good experiences through organizing speakers and events on campus, but of course the speakers don’t have to be alumni.

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  4. Oh, and they forgot this item for junior year: “Do a study abroad program in a non-English speaking country in a non-English speaking academic program.” I’m kind of a snob about this, but I don’t see the point of going to England to take courses in English and drink beer or to Prague to take courses in English and drink beer. (I would probably make an exception for India or an Anglophone African country or for an actual English major studying in England.)

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  5. “I called them “party abroad” programs.”

    Very funny!

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  6. Lots of good comments.

    It’s clear that technical majors might have specific needs, such as needing “to have a clear idea of what they want to do”. Of course it would be nice if all students did, but it is really not as important in some fields.

    I’ve heard many complaints about college career services offices, but it sounds as if there are specific issues when they don’t have knowledgeable specialists who deal with tech industries (or other fields).

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  7. “Declare a major in your junior year.”

    When I did college visits with my son a few years ago, I was surprised how many schools told us that there was usually no need to declare a major until the end of sophomore year. At the time it seemed like a nefarious plan to make sure students spent at least five years at their schools. They did talk about exceptions, and about how it would be better to have a general idea of your major so you could complete the necessary prerequisite courses, but overall there was a very casual, no-pressure attitude about declaring your major early.

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  8. There are formal and informal ways to form relationships with alumni.

    Schools create databases and coordinate events for this. Here’s Boston College: http://www.bc.edu/offices/careers/careers/networking.html

    Just going through various professional organizations’ membership lists and contacting alumni is another way. Many industry groups offer student memberships at a discounted price. Greek organizations and other college groups provide channels for current students to network with alumni.

    Obviously some schools have stronger alumni ties than others, and sometimes it’s industry specific.

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