How To Set Yourself Up For Life After College Before You Even Graduate


Welcome to the fifth and final post from my How To College Better series in which I share tips and tricks to help with surviving college (well, better than I did anyway). New to the series? That’s okay. Here’s what to catch up on:

Today, I’ll be sharing my best tips for preparing for professional life after college. It’s good to get into these now while you’re still in college. They are tips and tricks to not only prep for post-uni life but to set you apart from the rest of the pack.

1. Have a CV Ready

If you’re in college and don’t have a CV, stop reading this right now and go make one. You need it! Having a CV ready makes applying for stuff faster and easier. Save your CV in different formats but always send it out as a PDF. Make sure you also have a copy in your phone. You never know when you’ll be asked to email or even WhatsApp it. Don’t be a dolt. Have a CV.

2. Get Jobs or Internships

During semester breaks and school holidays, try to find internships or entry-level work to start padding your CV as well as supplementing your education with experience. Work experience is one of the most effective ways to stand out from the crowd once you start job hunting after college. The job market is competitive and tough (trust me, a current victim of unemployment). Give yourself a leg up while you’re still in college.

3. Volunteer

If you can’t find a paid job or an internship, try volunteering. I never volunteered during college and a very shrewd and cynical part of me wishes I had because of how great it looks on a CV and to employers. However, I also know from friends like Faith and Phindu that volunteering is an extremely fulfilling act. It’s worth doing it just for your personal enrichment.

4. Join LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network for professional networking and career development. It’s a great place to find jobs and make connections. There’s also something particularly valuable for students. It gives you a glimpse of the current state of your field. Use LinkedIn to learn and understand what people in your field are talking about, and the sort of qualifications and experience they possess. Basically, observe and learn. After college, LinkedIn will be a very useful tool for job finding and showcasing your skills.

5. Read. Read. Read.

Aside from those textbooks, you need to be hitting some literature. Read amazing fiction, beautiful memoirs, essential non-fiction, important news articles and anything else you can get your hands on. Tweets don’t count! Read widely and learn as much as you can. Your intellect and capacity to reason are the strongest tools in your arsenal. Sharpen those tools with information.

6. Develop transferable skills

Transferable skills are capabilities that are useful no matter what industry or field you’re in. These can be hard skills (i.e. teachable skills) like writing and editing, IT proficiency and project management. However, they also include soft skills (i.e. personal attributes) like effective listening, good communication, adaptability, leadership and problem-solving.

7. Learn stuff online using free resources

Learning extra skills has never been easier with a new invention they’re calling The Internet. Use it to support your learning, gain new skills for work and life, collect qualifications like they’re infinity stones and become a more rounded individual. Take Free Online Courses. Watch Tutorials on YouTube. Pay attention to important discussions on social media. Use the internet for your personal development.

8. Build relationships

Word of mouth is one of the most effective means of coming into opportunities for work and professional development. Fair or not, people like helping people they know and like. That’s why it’s important to build your network by building relationships with people in your field. If you can, find a mentor to guide you and advise you. Making genuine connections is the key here. You want your network to be filled with people who want you to succeed. You’ll be shocked at how far the people invested in you will go to assist you.

9. Be intentional with social media

If you’re in college, please be aware of the implications of social media. The generic advice you’ll get is to watch what you post. You never know who is watching your online presence, after all. It’s great advice. That said, as someone who always knew their online personality is an aspect of what they’re intending to do (in my case, it’s blogging full time and self-publishing), the matter becomes a bit more complicated.

Discernment is important. If you’re not on social media with the intent to build something from your online presence but you want to express yourself freely, don’t attach your name and other identifying aspects about yourself.

RELATED: 10 Things That Totally Bug Me About Twitter

If you do attach your name, upload your pictures and post content that can easily be connected back to you, then be aware of how your social media can impact your job prospects. If you’re like me and your online presence is connected to your personal aspirations, then you need to be mindful of what message you give off and whether it aligns with your goals.

10. Create a website and/or portfolio

If it’s not already expected for (young) professionals to have a website or blog or portfolio, then we’re probably getting to a point where it will be. Digital portfolios and sites are a great opportunity to show off your skills and experience to potential employers. They’re also a great way to establish yourself within your field, share with others and connect with influential people. It definitely sets you apart from the crowd.

There we are. 10 smart ways to prepare for life after college before you even graduate. Did I miss out something important? Feel free to share a tip or more in the comments.

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