Five Things to Do in Your Senior Year in College
The senior year in college is perhaps the most important step in your career. You are only a commencement ceremony away from getting a degree and starting to look for employment in your career field. In the end, all college students desire to put that critical thinking skills and knowledge to work and get back all the funds invested in getting that education. I want to highlight that what you do on your senior year could help you land on a job offer much sooner after graduation. Based on my experience, I created the following list of thing you should do in your senior year. I hope you find something in this list that you decide to pursue.
1. Get Internships and Volunteer Experience
Experience is your best friend! On all future job interviews you will be asked questions related to the position you are applying for. Employers expect you to answer these questions based on reflection and inference from your past personal and professional experiences. The more experiences you have, the better candidate you become.
I know that unpaid internships and volunteer positions seem like a waste of time and a huge opportunity cost. However, employers would most likely never ask you how much you made, but they will surely ask you how that previous employment prepared you for the position you are applying for. I had rather make time for volunteering at conferences, special events, and organizations related to my college major and prospect career path than working full time and over time in jobs that do not prepare me for the future.
I understand that some of us have children, car payments, mortgages, credit cards payments, and student loans to pay. As a result, taking time away from work in order to volunteer might not be a financially feasible at this time. However, you should consider that quitting this full time low paying job is the reason why you enrolled in college in the first place. Moreover, the experience you earned and contacts you meet through volunteering will surely help you build a career path much sooner.
If you do you research well, and depending on your major and desired career path, you will most likely find that a handful of paying part time positions open up for college seniors. For example, my major is criminal justice and my desired career path is gang prevention. During my senior year, I was lucky to find a part time job with the school district being an academic tutor for at risk youth. This position did not paid enough to cover my bills and expenses, but it did provide me with experience and a network of contacts that would help me move up the ladder after graduation.
Internship in community policing
2. Befriend other Seniors in Campus
You may have been told that other graduates looking for the same type of jobs you are looking for are your competition. Although this is true, remember that successful entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs, approached their competitors in a very different way. Apple looked forward to having Microsoft programs like Word and PowerPoint run on Mac OS. Selling Microsoft software to Apple users was a way for Microsoft to make money, but it was also a way for Apple to retain customers.
In other words, approach your competition in a way that is mutually beneficial. Other seniors in campus might know about a paying internship or an organization that is hiring and you might not know about it. they may refer you or give you more information. Likewise, you may refer your campus friends to job openings or academic programs that you know about or that you may have participated in before. This approach is mutually beneficial and professionally rewarding.
I referred a handful of my friends to paid internships and criminal justice related positions I knew about. Some of my friends referred me to other internships and job openings they knew about. I say that other college seniors are your network, not your competition.
3. Research your self
A lot of college students know exactly what they want to do with their degrees, but many do not. This is your last year in college and perhaps the best moment to look back at the knowledge and skills your learned over this time and consider what you like the most and what you would like to purse. For example, I wanted to be a gang detective since high school, but on my senior year in college I realized that I like to help the needy and the poor. In addition, my part time job working with at risk children from economically disadvantaged background helped me confirm that I wanted to work with people. As a result, I now use my degree for gang prevention and youth development rather than for criminal investigations.
At this moment, you should consider what you have learned from class lectures and from working experience and figure out what you like the most and what your career interests are. Moreover, use this time to see how the skills you possess your strengths match potential job opening and future career paths.
4. Research the Your Desired Career Path
Maybe when you enrolled in college you had a career goal in mind. By your senior year in college you may have come to realize that there is no one way trip from graduation to that ideal job title you imaged. Rather, several "lower" positions would provide you with the experience, network, and expertise needed to eventually find that one position you imagined back in your freshman year.
Therefore, do some research and try to find organizations that are hiring for positions that are appealing to you and that you believe such positions would provide you with the experience and skills to move one step closer to where you want to go.
After graduation, you do not have to settle for very low paying positions in hopes that the experience will help you move up the ladder. Also, yo do not have to feel depressed after the highest paying positions turn you down. You should keep your expectation realistic knowing that this position now will prepare you for your next step in your career path. Again, if you do your research well you will most likely find a good entry level position. Who knows, you may even find a higher paying position that s very similar to what you really want. the key is to leave no stone unturned.
5. Become an Alumni
Once a Toro, always a Toro!
On your last semester, you probably have mixed feelings regarding the experience as a collage student. On one hand, you are glad the semester is almost over and the stress about finals, research papers, and assignments is finally about to be gone. On the other, however, you will definitively miss being a member of campus organizations and being a college student. The good news is that you can always be part of the campus activities and continue to live new experiences. As an Alumni, you will be able to be part of campus activities, partake in college meetings, attend conferences, volunteer, and much more. Also, you will continue to have access to university services including a student email account, library services, tutoring, career advising, and other services your university offers. As a former student now looking for a job opening in my career field, it is always useful to have the support and advice of the campus career center. In addition, participating in Alumni events is a professionally rewarding and academically enriching experience.
I will continue to add more advice here as I am also a recent college graduate trying to succeed in this journey after college.