7 Ways You Can Develop Your Career While Still in College

Carolina Jacobs

Mar 15, 2021

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Whether you’re still in college, about to graduate, or you simply want to get a head start on your career situation, developing your career is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your future no matter where you are in your journey. There are so many ways you can figure out and work towards the career you truly want, from brainstorming to finding a career development program for students that suits you. While each step is different and each student needs to figure out what works best for them, there are so many options and you can figure out which one is best for you.

No matter what your major or field of study is, it’s never too early or too late to get a head start on your career development. If you’re ready to start exploring your career options, you can go so many different ways. All you need to do is pick a few strategies. Here are just a couple of ways you can start to develop your career, even when you’re still in college.

1. Brainstorm

This step is for those who might not be sure of the exact career path they may want to pursue yet. Drawing out ideas and inspiration, talking to those you trust, and doing some inner exploring can be extremely helpful when brainstorming. You can even return back to this routinely if your goals tend to be more fluid. Brainstorming is an ongoing process.

2. Find a Mentor

One of the best things about college is the ability to make connections with those who know your field of study inside out, which is why finding a mentor can be so instrumental. A mentor can guide you in your path to career development and help you figure out what you need to do to get to your goals.

3. Shadow Someone

Whether you choose your mentor or someone else you admire in the working world, actually following someone for a day and seeing what their life is like can help you get a concrete sense of what you need to learn and which ways you need to grow to prepare yourself for the future you want. Reach out to a few people and see if you can set up shadow days — or even virtual shadow days to see what your career goals have in store for you.

4. Join a Career Development Program

If you would rather develop your career and career skills with your peers, colleagues, and people that you can bounce ideas off of, a career development program for students might be the right choice for you. Each major and field of study will have different options available when it comes to career development programs, but asking around on your campus and asking your mentor or professors for resources can be a great start. No two programs are the same, but they can help you figure out exactly what you want out of your career, and guide you along with other students while they do the same.

5. Get Work Experience

While getting a part time job may not seem like the most relevant contribution to your professional goals long term, there’s actually much more than meets the eye. Even if you work in a job that doesn’t seem directly related to your field of study, you still can use it to gain pertinent life experience and skill building that you need to survive in the professional world. Whether you’re waiting tables, working in your student center, or even working in customer service somewhere, having a job and working for your money can teach you commitment, as well as a more thorough understanding of what you like about professional environments, and what you can seek to improve in other, more permanent employment situations.

6. Intern

Similar to getting work experience, intern experience is about working towards the direct application of your field of study to the work you do. Entering into the work force with an internship under your belt not only shows that you have experience and understanding, but also that you have a good work ethic.

7. Learn to Network

Another great way to develop your career in college is learning to network and actively networking while you’re there. Networking is essentially the skill of socializing on a professional level, and college is the place where you are surrounded by peers who are studying the same thing — or similar things — that you are. Take advantage of it and build meaningful connections!

Developing Your Career Now

No matter what your goals are and where you want to go after college, you can start developing your career path as early as you want. By finding a mentor, brainstorming, and gaining experience, you can enter the workforce assured and prepared. Do you have a mentor?

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