Note: This is the second post of a four-part series to help college students ensure their marketability in the industry upon graduation. Part one focused on what steps students need to take in their freshman year.
As a sophomore student, college life has now become your reality. If your freshman year was any indication of how swiftly college days will pass by, you realize that you need to start taking steps now to ensure you are prepared for the future, using some of the tips I shared last time. Thoughts about “what will I do after graduation” are no longer just passing; this is time for action!
1. Make short- and long-term goals.
Now that you have a made some decisions about what you want to do with your life, take concrete steps by creating some short- and long-term goals. Build in reasonable time lines for each of your goals to make sure you stay on track. Your Career Services offices may have assisted you with developing a career plan; now it’s time to work the plan.
2. Study hard.
Academics are important, and this is the time to focus on your classes so that you gain the body of knowledge you will need for the future, and also so that you obtain the strong grades that will help you stand out when future employers make their hiring decisions on the top talent they want to bring into their companies. Make that commitment to excel, push yourself hard and you will see tremendous results.
3. Get a part-time job or volunteer opportunity.
Explore part-time jobs or volunteer opportunities on campus that will help you gain the skills needed in your chosen career field. For example, if you want a career as a manager, some of the skills needed in that role include being organized and able to manage multiple tasks. Can you do that now? Seek out opportunities to organize events on campus, take a leadership role for a student club or association, or an entry-level on-campus job that provides opportunities for you to sharpen your organizational skills. Take advantage of every opportunity to help you develop new skills – even those as simple as volunteering to put a list together for who will tutor students after class or organizing invitations for the ice cream social.
4. Find an internship.
Next you want to look for internship opportunities. Many companies, like Sodexo, offer internships to students who are in their sophomore year. This allows you to be productive during the summer months and learn from industry professionals. Many internships are paid and allow you to rotate through several different positions during the summer. Part-time spring and fall internships during the school year also may be worth considering. Participating in an internship will give you the opportunity to take what you have learned in the classroom and put it to good use. It also allows you to develop leadership, management and organizational skills to make you a marketable student. The real life experience gained through an internship also can help you sharpen your career focus, and even position you for future opportunities with that company when you graduate.
5. Understand that timing and preparation is everything.
Recognize that the best internships are also highly competitive. Do the research to find the right opportunity, the right company, the internship requirements and application deadlines. Take the time to prepare a strong application, and make sure to line up strong letters of recommendation from your professors or other college administrators. This is all a part of developing your portfolio so that you stand out in a crowd. We will discuss this in detail in my next post for college juniors.
6. Embrace opportunities.
Lastly, be open to doing something different and exciting this year. As you apply for different internship opportunities, you may have to relocate to be a part of the internship program. Be open to that! You may have to abandon your relaxed student look and adopt a professional work appearance. Be open to that! You may have to be creative and live with roommates over the summer. Be open to that! When you are open to doing things that are different and exciting, you open yourself to a world of possibilities.
In my next blog post, we will discuss the steps that junior students should consider as they work towards their career. In the meantime, keep researching your future opportunities and take a look at what Sodexo has to offer. The opportunities are endless!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR).