The first month back to campus is the most exciting part of the entire year for many, but it’s also the perfect time to get a head start on career preparation. By harnessing the motivation developed after a long break and utilizing the following methods, students can prepare for opportunities to improve skills and gain connections that may prove valuable for their future career.
When the perfect opportunity arises to apply this semester, it’ll come in handy to already be prepared. Put your focus back on career goals by keeping resume information accurate and up to date and adjust descriptions of past roles to highlight your skills that may be applicable to future positions. Be open to opportunities such as internships, jobs, or projects that may give you new skills or accomplishments to add to your resume.
Cover letters are recommended or required elements of many applications that allow students to portray themselves and their passions more than a resume. While these should be customized for each application, it may save time to prepare a template in advance that includes a chosen paragraph layout, font, headings, signature, and more. Then, when it comes time to write one, the first step will be eliminated.
It’s never too early — or late — to develop career expertise and transferable skills. University students have access to many convenient resources to easily find opportunities for which they can apply. Fall opportunities may still be available, and many applications for winter, spring, or even summer roles begin accepting applications in early fall.
Job centers on campus are available to assist in finding roles that are optimized for students, with filters including major, proximity, and pay. These sites are effective resources to utilize in addition to general job sites, the PRSSA Internship Center and the PRSA Jobcenter.
Don’t forget to browse career pages for open positions. If no applicable roles are available, bookmark the page and check back periodically. Social media pages may also post updates on application cycles, as well as company culture information and application tips.
Take advantage of the best resources that universities have to offer — professors. With many connections within their network including current and former colleagues or students, they can provide valuable advice and mentorship that could greatly impact a student’s future career.
On-campus organizations are beneficial to develop skills relevant to your future career, or that are transferable in areas such as leadership, communication, and organization. Connections with community members, advisers, and even fellow students can lead to life-changing opportunities. Career-related groups, such as PRSSA, can expand your knowledge of the job market and allow you to meet guest speakers that could be searching for employees. Additionally, participating in activities outside of academics shows your initiative to learn and contribute to a group, whether focused on a passion or career.
The first month of college can be a moment to prepare for future opportunities, whether by preparing materials or developing skills and connections. Taking advantage of university resources and gaining applicable experience can best prepare students for their future careers.
Melina O’Neal is a third-year Media & Culture student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Digital Marketing. With PRSSA, she serves as a District Ambassador, National Publications Committee member, and treasurer for her collegiate Chapter. She currently works as a public relations intern at an advertising agency and consults in digital marketing. You can connect with Melina via LinkedIn.