It is never too early to start planning your career. As a sophomore, you can start right now. Here are eight steps you can take.
1. Consider pursuing a minor in college
As a sophomore, you might not have your career plans all set out yet. A very normal scenario for 19 to 20 year-old students. Therefore, as The Wall Street Journal reports, many prestigious universities’ presidents strongly encourage undergraduate students to pursue a minor, preferably, in a different field from whatever major they have chosen.
For example, I am majoring in business, and simultaneously doing a minor in computer science. This will provide me with a unique opportunity to develop a diverse skill set, and increase the chances of my employability.
2. Develop your communication skills – and other soft skills
Soft skills are in high demand. Employers always struggle to hire new grads who are able to write, listen, and communicate effectively and clearly. If you can’t write properly or structure a persuasive argument, your chances of employability will be negatively affected. There is nothing important, at least in my opinion, than being an effective communicator, both oral and written. Couple that with other soft skills such as punctuality and team building skills, and you’re good to go!
3. If you can, hone your tech skills
In addition to the soft skills, you should also develop your tech skills. Depending on the field you want to work in, these will vary. Coding, for example, has becoming increasingly valuable. Even journalists who know basic coding will have a leg up when it comes to uploading content into modern WordPress platforms. And don’t even get me started on knowing all about social media, of course, if you plan to work in a somewhat creative or social media dependent industry.
4. Your network matters
The more connections you have, the higher are the chances of you securing internships and other exciting opportunities. My favorite book on the subject? How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It has some useful techniques that you should practice in order to build a far-reaching network. Furthermore, it is advisable to take part in conferences and career fairs, where you are able to connect with potential employers.
5. Internships, internships, internships
Nowadays, more and more employers are expecting candidates to have relevant work experience and extracurricular activities. Employers want enthusiastic, low-ego candidates who are able to make positive contributions to their organization. The best way to signal these traits is by doing internships, preferably in different industries, and give a part-time job a try. The agreed-upon recommendation is to do as many internships as soon as you can prior to graduation. Finally, internships may arm you with some practical skills that you may not learn in class.
5. Go to the career center at your university
In my opinion, as students, what we lack most is proper guidance. That is why you need to get advice from the experts. I highly recommend to regularly check in with the career center at your university. They may assign you a career coach to help you map out your ambitions. You should also take advantages of the workshops and seminars they organize. They may also provide you with certificates that will look good on your CV. Finally, the career center can help you secure internships, too.
7. If you want to go to grad school, prepare for & score high on standardized tests
If you are majoring in business, you probably know that you need to get a high score on the GMAT in order to go to business school. Interestingly, some studies reveal that GMAT is indeed a predictor of career success along with the personality trait of conscientiousness. Obviously, if your career goals differ, you might not need the GMAT nor the LSAT nor any other test. For example, if your goal is to work in fashion or become an influencer, chances are, you will not need them, so be sure to do your research before you even start studying!
8. Master the very basics
What I mean by the basics is that you must be proficient in writing resumes, cover letters, thank-you notes, and well-written e-mails. You are what you write; clear writing means clear thinking. You also should know how to handle a job interview. Normally, you should already have a professional LinkedIn profile and perhaps a domain name for a professional website. Your online presence matters as employers may do some online research on you. So be careful of those party pictures you post on Instagram, even if your profile is set to private!