10 Things You Must Do Before Leaving College And Joining The Real World

by Francesca Cange

As college students, the future, and reaching long-term goals associated with it, is a huge point of concern. To plan your future accordingly, you should start from the very beginning. They usually say that the earlier you decide what you want to do, the better and clearer your career goals will become.

There are many advantages to gain in planning ahead. As a job seeker, you must embrace your starting point to fully commit to where you start and how you plan to develop the skills that will become the fundamentals to your career.

If you're a college student, there are infinite ways for you to prepare yourself for the real world. In the interest of efficiency, here are the 10 most important things for every college student to complete before graduating and landing a dream job.

1. Upgrade Your Contact Information

You won't be a college student forever. As a student, you may get away with inappropriate voicemails that say, "What up, you know what to do at the beep" or crazy email addresses like In the real world, however, such things will not get you far with employers.

In fact, you will probably get laughed at, especially with that crazy email of yours. That's why it's important for you to clean up your contact information before you share it on your résumé or cover letter. Just keep it simple: A professional email with your first name and last name is perfect.

Also, your voicemail should sound like it's coming from an office. Believe me, any employer will appreciate your understated professionalism.

You should also add a signature on the bottom of your closing emails. This gives the person you are emailing an easier and quicker way to connect with you.

2. Clean Up Your Social Media Image

This should be one of your biggest priorities on your pursuit to your dream job. Remove any and all inappropriate images, statements and quotes that might hurt your chances of getting a job. If you're posting photos that you wouldn't share with your family, you should delete them from your social pages.

These days, companies stalk potential candidates online like you might stalk a date. You might think that no one is paying attention, but in actuality, employers are watching very closely.

3. Network, Network And Network Some More

Networking and connecting to people can really help you to achieve your career goals, especially when you're building relationships that will increase your contacts. There's always someone who knows someone who works in a specific career field, department or company that may pique your interest.

Starting with people you know -- friends, family, teachers, classmates, mentors, employers, neighbors. Let everyone in your network know what you’re looking to do.

When you get opportunities to meet people with exact experience or companies of interest, be sure to ask for advice, tips, recommendations and information. This is a great strategy to pick up when speaking to people you meet.

4. Attend Networking Events

As a college student, networking events will definitely benefit you. They’re not just about entrepreneurs and business professionals, but more so about meeting likeminded people. Come prepared by having personal business cards, being ready to engage in small talk, having questions in mind and making great connections, even if just with one person.

If you need a confidence booster, bring a friend along. This will help you not look so awkward attending some of these events when you don't know anyone there.

5. Internships

The more you intern, the better chances you will have to reach your professional career goals. This will also help to build up your résumé. Prospective employers are really impressed with students who have chosen to learn and provide their skills to companies and brands.

Start early in your college career because it will consistently shape and redesign your career goals, highlight the skills you need and provide industry knowledge for your future. Every person with whom you work during internships could become a contact to add to your growing network.

Throughout your internships, the people you impress might end up being the people who send you job leads in the future.

6. Volunteer

Volunteering with your community or college campus also reflects well on your résumé. My best advice is to dedicate your time to an organization or department about which you are passionate.

No organization or college department just wants a body, but rather, someone who's seriously genuine, consistent and has the passion to help and support worthy causes. Trust me, people can always tell when you're passionate for a cause through your conversations, work ethic, leadership skills and dedication.

7. Be Your Own Brand

Start thinking of yourself as a brand. How you come across is how people will perceive you. If you're looking for a job, don't show up wearing ripped jeans. That will quickly get you a rejection and you’ll be out the door before you can say anything else.

You want people to take you seriously. If you're serious about your future, consider yourself as a brand and represent it. Your attitude also plays a role in you being a brand. Your attitude can either help or hinder your opportunities.

Believe it or not, you never know who may be watching or listening; there's always someone who knows someone somewhere who could possibly help you.

8. Hobbies

You should always work hard and balance it off by playing hard. You're a college student and you should enjoy being one. Hobbies are a great way to build passion and simply share group activities.

You can also use your hobby to de-stress from your consistent hard work. There are so many hobbies out there that you don't need to reduce yourself to choosing just one. Cooking, singing, playing on a sports team, lessons for becoming a better writer, hiking and reciting poetry are all great examples of hobbies.

Whatever you enjoy doing, continue to do it because you should have a life outside of school.

9. Have A Strategic Game Plan

One of my biggest mistakes before graduating from college was not having a strategic game plan for post-graduation. This left me struggling for the longest time to find my place in the world, and I realized the reason was because I focused so much on school and not enough on planning to get my dream job. Well, you can't focus on one area and not plan for the other.

That's why college is the best place to really figure out what you want and how you will get it once you have made the decision. When you're in college, it's really about having a strategic game plan to get from point A all the way to point Z. Realize that when you join the real world and start looking for a job, everything becomes a competition.

It's nice to know that you did well in school; however, employers want to know what can you bring to the table that will make you a qualified candidate for a certain position. Employers want to know you can and will produce results.

When you have a game plan to reach your goals, you will definitely know what, how and where to go when executing said plan.

10. Study Abroad

If you have the opportunity to study abroad, do it. Learning and observing a new culture while living in an unfamiliar country will broaden your horizons.

Photo Courtesy: Studio Grun