What I Wish I Knew…. about the real world in college

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Taking a look back when I first started college, I wish I had known what I knew today about the job search. I figured once I get out, I will have a degree and employers will be throwing themselves at me. Unfortunately, the recession happened, and the veterans in the job world were taking all the entry-level jobs.

Here I was, happy about graduating, but depressed about finding a job. After two months of being jobless, I realize it was no longer about using my degree, but about obtaining an income to pay the bills. I have talked with several students that have recently graduated or who are about to graduate and they are all in the same boat. The advice that is constantly circling around the Internet varies depending on who you talk with and their profession. For instance, if you are attempting to land any form of marketing job, you’ll have those marketing professionals scrutinize your work while HR professionals will be looking at it from a different angle.

I’m growing fonder of creating lists of the things I wish I had done while still in college. So here is a just a few that I wish I would’ve known and executed.

Value your Network

I didn’t start appreciating those within my circle of influence until about my junior year. I knew the President of the university, I knew directors of various offices, and I was pretty well known by most faculty and staff in the Business department. However, I didn’t start talking to them about my future employment options and how they could assist me. I don’t believe in Career Services because I have yet to hear a success story that was directly because of the department. Career fairs and resume workshops are nice, but you can get those same things without visiting your college’s Career Services department. Use your network to your advantage.

Get an Internship

I cannot express how much real-world experience trumps scholastic knowledge. For that reason, the veterans that didn’t go to college are getting all the jobs. Employers should start looking towards younger generations because we have more to offer than real-world experience. It’s weird that employers still have to list that you must be proficient in Microsoft Office products. Don’t graduate without having some real-world experience. Even if all you did was file build your resume to make it look like you were way more awesome. Don’t lie though.

Getting an internship is especially important if you are attending a specialized college like Gwynedd Mercy University because employers want to see real world experience if you are going to become a lawyer, a detective, or a radiation therapist.

Forget the 4.0 GPA, Get Involved.

I’m not saying don’t do well in school, but don’t just aim for that 4.0 GPA and not be involved at the same time. I recently heard the saying A students work for the B students, C students own the business, and D students are the geniuses€ I think that is true in some respect. You don’t want to focus all your energy on achieving perfect grades. Three things I wish I had been more proactive with while attending college. I’ve built my post-college network and it would’ve been a lot easier when the recession wasn’t shot. I’m told wait until the beginning of the year, but another person told me that they mentioned that she has been waiting for the beginning for several years now. A degree in itself is not as effective as the network you build and the friends you make.

What kinds of things did you do in college and what do you wish you had done? Let us know!

Blake McCammon, is an intern at Xceptional HR. Connect with Blake on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.  Blake is a recent grad of Northeastern State University with a degree in Business Administration.  During school he created and managed his university’s social media strategy. He is currently the co-moderator for the Twitter chat, #genychat which takes place every Wednesday at 9pm EST.


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