The future. I know it is probably the last thing you are thinking about as a college freshman. Most students do not until they realize they need an internship or a job. If you begin to build your resume, with meaningful activities now, you will be a much more competitive applicant for internships and full-time jobs. Do not lose sight of the ultimate goal, to attend a university with the goal of getting a better job than you could acquire without a degree.
Freshman year can be confusing for some people. It is important you begin to identify who you are and what affiliations you want. I would recommend joining at least one, but preferably two organizations. While you should be open to joining more organizations, I recommend two because the goal is to be involved in the leadership of these organizations. I joined a social fraternity and a professional development club. I sought these two groups specifically because I wanted one organization focused on social life, and one club focused on academics or professional development. One or two organizations should create the network and help start your social identity.
Settling in and getting used to life will take some time, but find the people you want to align with for the next four years. It is possible you might achieve the relationships you desire from the organizations you join, that is the goal.
You probably will be taking some of the more easy classes in your major and/or general education classes outside of your major. It is tempting to get lost in the social activities of your university. You will probably have more social opportunities than ever before in your life, but it is important to still start good study habits. Delaying the fun and good times of going out in order to perform academically is the first step in maturing. You want to make good grades in the early classes in your career, doing so will give you a nice cushion for your GPA later on when you are taking more challenging major classes.
I am aware of the argument that recruiters are placing less of an emphasis on GPA, but it is still important for many upper-level jobs. If you have a high GPA you are probably going to get more looks than if you have a low GPA all other things being equal.
In review, the major goals of freshman year are to find your social identity and create your academic foundation.
In terms of internships, it is difficult to acquire one as a freshman. At the least, you should be growing your professional network in general and in your industry.
The sophomore can have a similar adjustment period as freshman year, but hopefully, by following this guide you will be set up well to seamlessly roll into sophomore year.
Your classes will probably heat up a little bit and you will have to devote more time to your studies.
With respect to your organizations, you should be looking to get involved in leadership. It is important for your development to hold some position of responsibility. You want to be able to show recruiters that you are someone that can lead and rise to the top of an organization. You want to aim for a position that fits in your schedule. If you have a really hard year sophomore year, maybe do not run for president. Find a role that you can manage and excel at. With that said, you should still strive to have some kind of position in at least one of the organizations you are in during your sophomore year.
Another thing to have on your radar is a community service. You will probably have enough time to do some community service. I would so get something on your resume now, so you can flex it at future interviews. While having community service is not necessary, most companies these days have an increased emphasis on serving the community. I volunteered at a local middle school to help teach English to students in the English as a Second language program. I referenced this experience in almost all of my interviews. An opportunity that shows you know how to work with others and mentor is a plus.
Strong academic performance and a reasonable professional network should set you up well for an externship or even an internship over the summer. If your school has professional preparation services like career advisor or resume workshops it might be worthwhile to take advantage of those services. I know for me personally, the career advisor at my school was very useful. Make sure you are sending out your resume as early as possible and continuing to do so into the spring semester if necessary. Do not be afraid to ask people in your network to give you a referral. The referral is very powerful and gives you an inside edge compared to other people. Do not feel bad or self-conscious about leaning on your network for a referral.
It is possible that you walk away from sophomore without any opportunities in the summer. Do not be discouraged. Part of applying for jobs is dealing with failure. Everyone has been denied an employment opportunity at some point in their life. Reflect and make adjustments. Do not get discouraged and give up. Worst comes to worst, there is nothing wrong with working a temporary job over the summer to get some money and some real-life experience. In recap, keep building your professional network, run for positions of leadership, send out your resume, and keep building momentum in your studies.
You’re almost there. You’ve probably been admitted to your specific college inside of your university, and now the fun begins. You will start to take more challenging, and hopefully more fulfilling courses. Hopefully, your performance in the previous two years has created a nice foundation for your GPA.
At this point, you have acquired a position in leadership in an organization and will be able to talk about it in interviews. Many people (foolishly) do not leverage the experiences one has had in their organizations. Most of the things that occur in the leadership of an organization are not trivial.
It is tempting to have a bout of academic slacking during interviews and after you get an internship. Resist the temptation! You need to keep your academics high in your priority list to get that full-time job you deserve.
You should begin applying for internships around the start of the semester. Usually, the better companies do their recruiting in the fall. You have to be ready from the first day of the semester to start sending out your resume.
Hopefully, you will have some interviews and do well and sign an offer (check out my interview guides coming soon!).
At this point, you have acquired most of the experience you need to have a successful interview and land a job. You will have to hone your skills for whatever line of work you are interviewing for. For example, if you are going into software development practice for the coding interview. All of the experiences you have built throughout college should prepare you for the behavioral interview. Once you acquire your job then you can relax more. Just keep your work ethic up until you sign that offer letter, then you can focus more on other things besides school. Hopefully, at this point, you can look back at all the work you did and say that the hard work was worth it and you can now relax.