Combining a Degree With Experience: Four Things College Students Need To Do Before They Graduate


Bennis Inc is pleased to welcome another guest blogger this week! As college students around the world make their final push toward the end of the fall semester, final exams, holidays and a month-long break from school may be at the forefront of their minds. But as you enjoy the upcoming winter break, consider this insightful blog post by Cheval John. Cheval discusses four ways college students can make their degree worth even more in the real-world through things they can do as undergrads (To learn more about Cheval John, please see the paragraph following his post).

GraduationMany people can relate to this scenario: a recent college graduate is looking for an entry-level job only to find out that the employer is looking for someone with experience along with that college degree. But how can you get experience if you can’t get a job? Here are four remarkably accessible ways a college student can earn career experience before they step out into the real-world:

1. Join a Student Organization.

Joining a student organization allows you to expand your network, gain professional experience and serve in leadership roles all before stepping your foot in the real-world. This doesn’t mean go out and join every club your university has to offer. The main benefits of joining an organization come from being an active member. Choose the clubs that you are personally passionate about and are professionally applicable to your career aspirations. For example, if you hope to work in the human resource field, consider joining a student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. This club will connect you directly with professionals who work in your field and allow you to serve in a leadership role that highlights the skills a future employer will look for. For a real-life example, just ask Megan Murphy.

2. Write For Your College Newspaper.

Why write for a college newspaper you ask? Because it teaches you time management! Having to meet both class and newspaper deadlines will force you to prioritize your time and stay on task. Possibly the most important benefit of writing for your college newspaper is that it allows you to learn the “ins and outs” of your university and to meet influential people that run your university. So maybe you’re not a journalism major and writing isn’t your calling. These are even better reasons to take part! In addition to improving your written communication, an extremely powerful skill set to have, it will also show future employers that you take initiative and can excel at any task you are given. Don’t take my word for it, ask Stephen Green!

3. Start a Blog.

If you’re already writing regularly for your college newspaper, consider starting a blog. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have the time because of your class schedule, but blogging can require as little as 30 minutes each week (which can easily be carved out of Facebook surfing time). Through blogging, you are demonstrating that you know how to create and maintain your own website and interact with people from all over the world. Depending on the topics of your blogging, you can even gain an edge when looking for a job. Say you are applying for a marketing position and you have a blog about market trends, this adds credibility and experience to your knowledge that will set you apart. Note: When blogging, it’s important that you blog consistently and interact with the blogging community, because this is how you grow your blog and show your dedication to completing a task.

4. Study Abroad.

Globalization is happening around us and employers realize that competition is both domestic and international. Businesses need people who not only have technical knowledge, but cultural knowledge as well. Studying abroad allows you to see the world from a different point of view and take a course that may not be offered at your home university. Two years ago, I studied abroad at the University of Vina del Mar in Vina del Mar, Chile. It allowed me to understand why Chile was different from the other Latin American countries and to improve my Spanish through staying with a host family. Also consider taking an internship while abroad to step outside of your comfort zone and increase your cultural knowledge by working with the locals. Earning part of your degree while studying abroad shows employers that you can learn, work and succeed in a culture that is different from your own!

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Cheval JohnAbout the Guest Blogger: Cheval John is a sports reporter and staff blogger for the Houstonian, the independent student newspaper of Sam Houston State University. Cheval is currently working toward a Master of Arts Degree in Spanish. He studied abroad in Mexico during the summer of 2008 and studied and interned abroad in Chile during the summer of 2009. Please check out Cheval’s blog here!