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College is the best time for students to explore their interests and figure out the perfect field for their skills and passions — but the classroom isn’t the only place that delivers learning opportunities.
Many schools host professional events for college students throughout the academic year. While some of these events are for the general campus population, others are geared toward specific majors.
Make the most of your college experience and keep an eye out for these five professional events on your college’s calendar.
The workforce is highly competitive, and as a college student, you have every right to worry about finding a job after graduation. Fortunately, many colleges host career fairs for students to explore their options, speak with potential employers, and even go through an initial interview in some instances.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 91.7% of colleges and universities hosted career fairs in the 2017 to 2018 academic year — a percentage of organizations that has held steady since 2006.
Some colleges also host virtual career fairs, which proved practical during the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 90% of employers participating online.
Industry Speaker Events
Colleges specializing in specific major programs often invite well-known industry professionals to come and speak on campus.
For instance, fine arts and humanities majors may get the chance to hear famous painters, authors, musicians and actors discuss their careers and the steps they took to get where they are today. Likewise, pre-med students may have the opportunity to hear about the latest robotic surgical technologies from a renowned medical professional or researcher.
Some colleges also invite TED speakers to campus or conduct a similar TED talk format for alumni and professors to address students.
Industry speaker events aim to motivate and provide further career direction as students work toward their degree and professional aspirations.
Alumni Meet-and-Greet Events
Like industry speaker events, alumni meet-and-greets are an excellent opportunity for former students to conduct presentations in their respective majors and participate in one-to-one interactions with current enrollees.
Naturally, you might be curious about your university’s alumni and how they’ve leveraged their education and degree within their fields after graduation.
Alumni have much to offer students and typically provide practical advice and mentorship. For some, these particular meet-and-greet events open doors to networking opportunities and allow students to stay on alumni’s radar for future job openings.
Ask anyone who works in your field — getting a foot in the door is usually about who you know. That’s why networking while in college is essential if you hope to foster professional connections over time.
Studies have long shown that 70% of all job openings aren’t published on job sites, and up to 80% of positions are filled by networking.
If your college hosts professional networking events for students to meet alumni, local businesses, and corporate elites, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Some networking events include one-to-one meetings and Q&A sessions so students can discover more about their intended careers post-graduation.
Students should create a LinkedIn profile beforehand to exchange information with event attendees. There are approximately 77% of all available job openings on LinkedIn for students to browse, while they can also connect with peers and mentors.
Mentorship allows students to ask questions to experienced professionals in their field and learn more about themselves, such as their goals, strengths, and areas of improvement. For instance, networking with a mentor can help you identify and build upon your strengths and unique skill sets.
The future is filled with excitement and uncertainty, which is enough to make any college student nervous. In addition to looking for a job, graduates have to gain independence — cooking for themselves, financial management, perhaps moving back in with their families or renting their own place, and other life skills they may not have learned yet.
If your school offers life-after-college seminars or workshops, it might be best for you to attend. Similar panels might tackle repaying loans, avoiding debt, investing, dealing with workplace anxiety, and learning self-awareness as an adult.
Professional Events Help College Students Get Ahead
Any special event that helps build the campus community is worth showing up to for a better college experience. Attending a professional event at your college, in particular, could be your ticket to getting ahead after graduation, whether meeting a potential employer or gaining new life skills.