These college-related tips — for all college-bound students (teens and adults) — have been gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.
Numerous computer-science majors realize they don’t enjoy programming but are not aware of what other types of jobs they might pursue. Plenty of other computer and technology-related jobs that do not involved programming are available. Some job titles/areas include: technical support, network administration, Web development, database administration, customer/client support, information specialist, and trainers.
To get a better idea of what is out there for you, talk with your professors. Also go to one of the general job sites and conduct a search. Or, go to one of the technology-specific Web sites, such as IT Talent, and conduct a search. Quintessential Careers offers a collection of the best technology-specific job sites.
Patrick Combs, author of Major in Success, offers this advice to college students: “Be aware, the most important homework you’ll ever do during college will never be assigned. Do the unassigned homework (Fully explained in my book or by any good career counselor).”
In the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, Combs said, “Don’t make the single biggest mistake most students will make — don’t let your fears stop/kill you from going for that way cool, totally great, off the beaten path job that no one else has the guts to try for. Screw safety, screw what other people think, screw your major, screw money, and go for the job that, for you, would be sheer bliss.”
Here’s our advice for someone struggling for a major and/or career path.
Step 1: Examine the things you like to do — at work and at play. What activities give you the most joy and get you energized?
Step 2: Examine the types of activities that you dislike performing — and never want to perform again.
Step 3: Now look at your strengths and weaknesses. What are the types of skills and activities where you excel? What are the types of things where you have troubles?
Step 4: With this newfound knowledge of yourself, go back and take a few of the assessment tests. The career services office at your college probably has a few you can take – or go online and take a few of those. Here’s a great article that includes a review of all the major online assessments: Online Career Assessments: Helpful Tools of Self-Discovery.
You can find these steps — and more — in the article, Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path.
Dan Rosenfield, publisher of Web sites and a newsletter on college and grad school, cautions that students shouldn’t “reduce their options by considering only colleges relatively close to their homes and/or institutions whose names are familiar to them.” In the Q&A interview Rosenfield did with Quintessential Careers, he said, “Most students (85 percent) attend colleges within a three-hour drive of their homes, failing to even consider potentially good choices farther away. Similarly, many parents and students assume that colleges whose names they do not immediately recognize offer less prestige and/or educational programs of lower quality than schools whose names they have heard more often.”
Students earning bachelor’s degrees in anthropology can do any number of things related specifically to their major, including: anthropologist, archeologist, analyst, researcher, teacher, and many others.
You can find loads more information at one of our favorite sites for students, the what can I do with a major in anthropology section of the “What Can I do With a Major in…” from the Career Services staff at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
You can find all sorts of this type of career information in the Career Exploration section of Quintessential Careers.
Students tend to overestimate the importance of co-curricular activities in the college admissions process, observed Dan Rosenfield, publisher of Web sites and a newsletter on college and grad school, in the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers. “While activities can be a ‘tip factor,’ particularly with colleges who must select a small number of students from a large applicant pool, program rigor, grades, and SAT scores are, by far, the most important criteria colleges consider in evaluating applicants, as they most accurately predict success in college.”
If you’re feeling uneasy because your undergraduate major is in an area where you will likely need a graduate degree for career success, first conduct some self-assessment. What is it that you really want to do with your life? What are your short-term and long-term goals? How would you like to combine your interests and majors?
Second, talk with your major adviser. Talk about your concerns for a career prior to attending graduate school. Ask about options for fellowships and other grants that may pay for all or most of your graduate work.
Third, go to the career services office of your college. These professionals are ready and able to help you tackle all these issues, from helping you define a clearer vision of your career, to potential internships, to helping with finding employment upon graduation, to guiding you regarding graduate programs and financing. We have a great article on the subject: It’s Never Too Early — or Too Late — to Visit Your College Career Office. The article is written by Mary Keen Krikorian of Hartwick College.
Fourth, go to the Web and do some exploring. You can start at the Career Exploration section of Quintessential Careers.
Commenting on the extent to which students should incorporate career planning into their decision about what college to attend, Dan Rosenfield, publisher of Web sites and a newsletter on college and grad school, said in the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, “Students are well served by choosing an undergraduate institution with a counseling center offering a comprehensive range of career and graduate school counseling services. Because many students enter college without a clear career choice, and many others change their career goals several times during their undergraduate years, it is critical they have access to professionals who can advise them on course and program selection as they relate to job and graduate school preparation. When selecting a college, students should be mindful of the fact that their interests and career goals are subject to change and consider most seriously institutions with a variety of strong programs. Students should be very cautious about choosing a specialty institution unless they are absolutely certain of their career goals.”
- summer jobs
- campus jobs
- entrepreneurial/self-employed jobs
- temporary work
- volunteer work
- research projects
- certification courses
- campus activity positions
- fraternity/sorority/social club positions
- extracurricular or sports leadership positions
This information comes from the Quintessential Careers Job Search 101 Tutorial, specifically the Gaining Experience section. You can find more detailed information there about each of the above categories, as well as many other strategies for best preparing yourself for the job market.
The importance of grades to success after college depends on what career you go into, according to nationally known speaker and author Gary Tuerack. “In some occupations,” Tuerack notes in the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, “getting better grades leads to more dollars in your pocket. It also makes it more likely that you’ll get hired in this competitive workforce. However, in other occupations, such as being a motivational speaker like myself, what mattered more is communication ability. In my opinion, the key is making the most out of college to develop yourself — not just being focused, like most students, on the grade, but rather on the education you’re gaining. Anyone who makes a priority of developing himself or herself (his or her mind) wins in the long run. Besides, most of the stuff we learn in school ends up, for the most part, regurgitated for the exam, and then forgotten anyway.
Many — if not most — employers recruiting college graduates, especially business school grads, want the students they interview to have some work experience. That work experience typically occurs through internships and summer jobs. If you didn’t do an internship, you probably should have some sort of answer prepared in case you are asked why. Even if you have not “worked,” you probably do have experience. Look at any volunteer experiences, through which you probably acquired numerous valuable skills that can easily transfer to the workplace. And you probably have been involved with numerous major projects in your classes in which you also learned and employed new skills.
Go to the Transferable Skills section of Quintessential Careers to learn more about emphasizing your set of key skills. Also go to the career services office at your college and work with those professionals to build a job-search strategy designed especially for you. You’ll be able to find a job, but it will take developing a resume that focuses on your key skills and experiences, using your network of contacts, and implementing the advice from the career services office.
The value of increasing your reading speed/comprehension and memory applies to just about everybody in the workforce since it helps us be more productive because we’re reading every day — emails, mail, memos, books, says nationally known speaker and author Gary Tuerack. “Anyone who can take in more information in a shorter period of time has the advantage,” Tuerack notes in the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, “We’re in an information-overload society — and the winner is the one who can get hrough, assimilate, and use the information most productively. Most people, however, waste h urs by reading slowly, re-reading, mind wandering.”
While college is not for everyone, the value of a college education is monumental — in many ways. Most studies show a deepening income gap between people with just a high school diploma and those with a college education — and especially with women. But it’s not just earning power; it is also how people will perceive you and judge you. Read more in a our article: What Good is a College Education Anyway?
Reviewing notes every day within five hours of class is the most important piece of advice that nationally known speaker and author Gary Tuerack says he can offer to college students. In the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, Tuerack observes: “Studies and surveys continue to support that any student reviewing his or her notes within five hours of taking them is earning a grade-point average of between a 3.7 to 4.0. It’s simple; it ends up saving a lot of time in the long run; and it will improve your grades as well as your understanding of what’s going on in class every day.”
Authors Gen and Kelly Tanabe observed in the Q&A interview they did with Quintessential Careers that many students say that the college admission process is a mystery. “They send off their applications and several months later receive either the coveted acceptance letter or hated denial letter in the mail,” the Tanabes note. “They wonder who the dark figures hiding in the shadows are who read their applications. The truth is that they are real people. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, former English majors who love to read, alumni who love their colleges, and educators. And perhaps even more surprising is that they are not your critics who take evil pleasure in denying you. Admission officers are actually rooting for you, looking for reasons to admit you,” the Tanabes continue.
“Of course the reality is that colleges cannot accept all applicants, but for the most part admission officers approach the applications they receive positively. They review all of the pieces of the application, building a complete picture of who you are from your academic record to the passions you describe in your essays to what others say about you in recommendations. While your academic fit with the college is the most important, admission officers also seek to find your personal fit with the college as well. Will you thrive on the campus? Will you be challenged? Will you contribute to the campus community? The truth is that the great majority of admission officers enjoy the process, especially when they see the new students they have admitted on campus. Help them by giving them reasons to admit you. Don’t be afraid of showing them who you really are and what is important to you,” the Tanabes advise.
Want a degree or new career training but can’t take time from your career? You’re far from alone. According to a Marketing Facts Study, 70 percent of Americans have considered taking a course of study to help further their careers. And according to a Department of Labor study conducted by Merrill Lynch and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2000) 65 percent of jobs today require additional skills.
Older college enrollees often make much better students than traditional college-aged students. If you’re considering taking the plunge, think carefully about the following as you work toward a decision about college.
First, can you afford to go to college? Can you develop a plan — a combination of financial aid, scholarships, and a part-time job — that will give you enough financial freedom to pay your current bills as well as college tuition? Find some resources in the college planning resources section of Quintessential Careers.
Second, what do you want to study in college? Don’t just jump into college without a plan. Spend some time matching up your other skills and interests with various careers by going to the career assessment tools section of Quintessential Careers.
Third, do you really need to go to college — or do you want to go? While many companies do hire employees without a college degree, there is often a point at which you can’t get any farther up the ladder with the degree. Keep in mind, too, that it is often the degree the matters more than what you study, so keep your focus on the prize. Fourth, are you using college as an escape from the job market? In a tough economy with jobs hard to find, this situation should play only a very small role in your decision about attending college.
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