First year college students should already be thinking about the jobs they want when they graduate. That's because the best job offers are earned when students select their targets early on and spend the next few years doing everything they can to impress the employers that have those jobs.
Of course, some students will not be clear about their career direction during the first year of college. For them, it will take more time and a strong effort to research the possibilities. However, that does not mean that these students should take their time. The sooner they select a general career direction, the sooner they can select a major and begin to develop a plan that will move them closer to their goals in a step by step fashion.
Students should think about the circles of a target. The "bulls eye" is the group of jobs they would consider to the most desirable or ideal. The next circle is made up of related jobs that are also highly desirable. The third circle is made up of jobs that would also be of great interest. The fourth circle would be good jobs that may not be as closely related to their personal preferences. Opportunities outside of the target become less desirable, the further away they get.
With a target, students can develop a plan of activities and performance that is most likely to lead them to the target area. Their plan should include their majors, the courses they choose, their classroom performance, their campus activities, work experiences, community activities and leisure activities. By building a list of accomplishments and experiences in these areas, they will have the components of a strong resumé and some great job-related experiences.
Students without a target and a plan are simply taking their chances with their career results. If they don't know where they want to go, their chases of going someplace where they don't want to go will increase dramatically. That's why students should think about their strengths, capabilities, past performance and the things they enjoy. Using that information, students can research career directions that will utilize their personal characteristics. Since nothing is carved in stone, they can change directions if necessary.
Other things are just as important as grades. Employers love to learn about student performance in their campus activities, part-time and summer jobs and any other ways they can demonstrate their capabilities to get things done well. By participating, leading, succeeding and accomplishing, students set themselves apart and give employers good reasons to want to learn more. This is where the best job offers are earned.
Students who fail to put themselves out there and get involved both on and off campus will seriously limit the number of employers that take an interest in them. Employers prefer candidates who are active, involved and productive. This is a lesson that too many students seem to miss while they are still in college.
Students who ignore this advice and fail to participate, work or volunteer will have little chance of accomplishing the things that the best employers want, need and expect. Since the best job offers are earned from their activities and performance during the sophomore, junior and senior years, no student will earn an exceptional job offer by sitting back and ignoring the expectations of their target employers.