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Returning College Students Need More Than Just a High GPA

Experiential Learning Teaches the Skills Employers Seek When Hiring

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Returning to College

In another month college students will be flocking back to classes to begin another semester that will bring them even closer to accomplishing their future life-long goals. This is an exciting time for college students, but it can also be a stressful time as well.

If you are a first year student, you will be embarking on a totally new experience that will provide you with challenges that will help you grow and further develop your decision-making and critical thinking skills. If you are a sophomore student or higher, you will be more likely to know what to expect but may still experience some uncertainty on how to best utilize your college experience in the future.

An important thing that students must consider is the steps they need to take to make their college years more successful. Although getting good grades and a high GPA is an excellent start, taking the initiative to get some real world experience will prove invaluable once you graduate and enter today's competitive job market.

Gaining Experience While Still in College

In addition to taking classes, it is also essential that you acquire the skills required to be successful in the workplace. By participating in several experiential activities like job shadowing, internships, co-ops, service learning, and volunteering, you will be able to get the real world experience that employers look for in the hiring process. I recommend a minimum of three internships during college. You may do all of your internships in the same field (if you know what you’d like to do after college); or you may try out different types of internships to help sort out your interests and learn about various career options.

This fall you may decide to do an internship or volunteer experience at an organization on campus or in your college community. To find available opportunities, I suggest you try contacting the Career Services Office at your college first. Most CS offices provide lists of local internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs that students can look into. Other places to seek out local opportunities are the Chamber of Commerce or newspaper. Another way to find opportunities is by prospecting. By contacting employers where you think you’d like to work, you may uncover an organization that would be happy to have a college student come in and help out.

What Employers Look For

Whatever you decide to do, the skills and accomplishments you achieve at your internship or volunteer organization can provide excellent experience to include on your resume. Building a strong resume during your college years will be a definite asset when seeking a job after graduation. One of the first things employers look for in their candidates is relevant experience and if you can show that you have this experience, it will put you well ahead of other candidates who are applying for the same job.

Internship and Career Information for College Students

In addition to working with the Career Services Office at your college, be sure to check out some of Penny’s Top Internship Sites listed on the web. There are also a number of About.com Guides Sites that offer a wealth of information for college students ranging from college life to career planning, job searching, and graduate school; in addition to specific information on careers in finance, law, music, etc.

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