Use These Tips to Benefit From Your College Career Center

John Krautzel
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College students face a daunting task when they graduate. Despite earning a college degree, 18- to 29-year-olds face the highest rates of unemployment in the United States in 2016, at nearly 14 percent. That's why students should rely on their college's career center as soon as possible to prepare for the job market when they leave school.

Start Early

The most important thing is to start early by going to a career center in your freshman year. The main reason is because the staff at the center encourage you to develop your resume during all four years of college and not just in the junior year as you approach graduation. When an employer looks at your activities, organizations, internships and work experience for four years, it looks much more impressive than someone who has only two years. The sooner you find a mentor at the center, the sooner you gain insights from professionals.

Develop Your Personal Brand

While you're out there volunteering, taking leadership positions and working a steady job at school, the coaches at the career center help you develop a personal brand. This entails strategies that set you apart from other job candidates. Start a LinkedIn page as soon as possible, and foster connections in your network. Create your own website and use social media to promote any blog posts and insights. After you graduate, employers examine these online tools to help make hiring decisions.

Create a Plan

Coaches at the career center tell you to create a plan the moment you walk in the door. Set goals for each of your years in college, with the end game being a job as soon as you get your diploma in hand. Visit your mentor at least three times per academic year. This lets someone else keep you on track for your goals, but it also lets your mentor update you on any hiring trends or new strategies that emerge while you take classes.

Check the Job Boards

Hiring managers at some of the best companies often go through a college career center first. Check any job listings or openings every few months to see what looks interesting to you. Staff at the center may know about job openings first before the general public. Don't be afraid to get a job on campus, either.

Get to Know Alumni

Alumni events on campus, such as homecoming, dinners or business lunches, put you in touch with alumni from your chosen field who already have careers. These men and women have connections that can lead to career-starting jobs. Volunteer at one of these events, and be prepared with a resume. Some alumni events are especially designed for college students to network for job opportunities.

The college career center should be one of the first places you visit on campus, and it most definitely should be the last. The best part about these resources is that they are free for students to use. Take advantage of the opportunities while you can.

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