Won’t good college grades alone get me the jobs I want?Unfortunately, the simple answer to that question is “no”. With about 2 1/2 million people expected to graduate with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, even if your grades are in the top 1%, that’s 25,000 graduates you’ll be competing with.And my guess is that the percent of college students getting at least somewhere near to a 4.0 is way higher than that. Plus, if you’re just playing the grade game, a 3.0 from an Ivy League or other highly-regarded school will probably trump a 3.5 from a less prestigious school.But with a hesitant economy and all the intense competition out there, as well as people with far more experience competing for some of the same jobs you’ll be going for, it’s not just a grade game any more.
What you also need to be doing with your college yearsI don’t want to leave the impression that grades don’t matter. They still do for quite a few employers. So get the best grades you can, especially in the subject areas that mean most to you. You can always highlight this higher subject-matter grade average during your job hunt, in case your other grades bring your GPA down a bit.But in order to stand out from the competing hordes when you graduate and are looking for work, you can greatly help your chances by doing at least some of the following:
- Take leadership roles in extra-curricular activities where possible.
- Volunteer in a place where you can use skills you want to work with.
- Work part-time in your chosen field. Even a few hours a week can help.
- Start a business as part of a school project or on your own.
- Practice your people skills, too. A huge part of successful careers!
- Build solid 2-way relationships with people in your volunteer & paid experiences.
- Do informational interviews with people in your preferred field(s).
- Check out LinkedIn for people to connect with and explore fields.
- Explore fields you’re interested in. It’s how you narrow things down.
- Build relationships with professors. (Don’t be afraid; most don’t bite.)
- Find mentors in your chosen field, once you know.
- Attend conferences and events related to your field. Make connections.
- Perhaps start a blog about things in your field.
- Participate in social media, including groups in your field.