5 Tips for College Students Who Are Freaking Out About Their Job Prospects

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There is one question every college student dreads as graduation nears: “So, what are you going to do next?”

For a lot of people, moving on to the next step and joining the “real world” (no, not the reality show) is daunting.

It’s so daunting, in fact, that according to this survey, only a third of students feel confident they will graduate with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. And on top of that, only 53% of the 32,000 students who were randomly surveyed think their chosen major will result in a good job.

The Strada-Gallup 2017 College Student Survey reveals a high level of worry among college students. So if you ever find yourself stressed to the max about your postgrad opportunities, you’re not alone.

5 Tips for Anyone Worried About How to Find a Job After College

Before you lose all faith in the higher education system, check out these tips on how to build your confidence in your degree.

1. Research Is Your Friend

Another study by Gallup and Strada Education Network shows that of the 90,000 adults interviewed, a whopping 51% would change at least one aspect of their education experience. This includes at least one of the following: their major, the institution they chose or the type of degree they obtained.

If you aren’t totally confident in your major or college, it will be more difficult to feel confident about using that degree after graduation. So give yourself a helping hand by doing your homework before making a decision regarding your education.

You can check out this College Board site if you want some help finding schools and majors that are a good fit for you.

When choosing your field of study, think about the future. What kind of careers will you get out of it? Consider choosing a major that has a high labor market demand.

And if you make a decision about a major but start to feel uncertain down the road, don’t be scared to make a change. When I started college, I was a marine biology major. Now here I am seven years later with a communications degree and no regrets.

2. Use Your School’s Career Services

The Strada-Gallup College Student Survey shows that 39% of current students have never visited their school’s career services office or used any of the online resources provided to them.

Don’t be part of that group!

The majority of college freshman, up to 86%, say that finding a good job is their main reason for enrolling in college. So if landing a sweet job is your No. 1 goal, it only makes sense that you use the career-oriented resources being offered to you. (And when someone is offering you a free service that can only help, I say take it.)

Your school’s career services center can be a gold mine of information. You can check out job and internship boards and seminars, or set up a meeting with a career counselor.

3. Seek Advice From the Faculty

Not only can you seek out formal counseling from your school’s career services, but you can simply talk to a professor about the realities of your major’s job possibilities.

Who better to ask than someone who is in the same field as you? Having a mentor in your chosen field means you can get real-life, specific answers.

On top of that, there’s a good chance you’ll have a professor you’re comfortable talking to, so it might be easier to ask them for help rather than going to see a counselor.

The 2017 College Student Survey shows that students who speak with faculty often about their career choices are much more confident about being successful in the workforce after graduation. Sixty percent of students who regularly speak with a staff member feel confident that their major will lead to a good job. Compare that to students who rarely or never talk to faculty about career options: Only 47% feel confident about their postgrad options.

4. Don’t Underestimate Extracurriculars

Yes, a big part of confidence in postgrad job prospects has to do with your chosen field of study. But that’s not the entire picture.

If you want to feel good about landing a job, you should do everything in your power to make yourself stand out. Choosing the right major and excelling in your chosen field aren’t always enough.

I know what you’re thinking: extracurriculars, really? That’s what you’ve got for me? But don’t scoff at me just yet.

Joining a club can benefit you in many ways when it comes to looking good to prospective employers. Maybe you joined a group in your freshman year and worked your way up the ranks over the years. This shows not only that you have commitment, but also leadership skills.

This National Association of Colleges and Employers survey says that over 80% of employers look for leadership qualities in candidates. On top of that, it found that participation in extracurriculars is one of the top attributes they value (more than a high GPA!).

Building skills outside of the ones you learn in the classroom will not only look awesome on your resume, but will give you more confidence in your ability snag a stellar job come graduation time.

5. Use Internships as Stepping Stones

While we’re on the topic of excelling outside of the classroom, let’s talk about internships.

You could get an A-plus in every one of your classes, but at the end of the day, experience is the wisest teacher. If you can list a strong internship on your resume, you are basically saying “I’ve not only studied this stuff, but I’ve DONE it.”

Getting hands-on experience in a subject will build your confidence and will also assure prospective employers that you can actually do everything you claim on your resume.

Not only can an internship build your skill level and pad your resume, but it can land you a job before you even graduate. If you rock as an intern, you could be offered a full-time job by the same company. Talk about taking the stress out of finding a job after graduation!

A Final Note on Finding a Job After Graduation

While being prepared is important, worrying endlessly about the future never helped anyone.

Some people will get job offers before they even graduate, and others will need a little extra time to find that dream job. (It took me two and a half years.)

If you find yourself with a degree and you’re struggling to land a job, don’t panic. Keep an open mind, and keep moving forward. In the meantime, look for some awesome freelance jobs or side gigs that you can add to your resume.

Kaitlyn Blount is a junior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She still loves marine life but is glad she changed her major.