Quick reality check here!!The workforce is really competitive and it is not stopping anytime soon. Except you want to own your own business, you will have to up your game to compete.The good thing is I am about to give you 5 college hacks to help you stay ahead of the competition.I wish I had someone tell me about it when I first started college.Actually, I did and I practiced some but they were other things I wanted to do with my time.If you are going into college or still in college then this is for you. You don’t need to do everything I listed. However, it will most definitely help if you take at least one of it and incorporate it into your college life.Lets begin!
Join clubs/memberships: There are always different clubs and club programs that run on campus for almost every program that your school offers. If there isn’t one for your specific program I suggest trying the closest to your program or maybe just one that strikes your interest. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about the kind of club you decide to be a part of. You can always learn a skill or two that you can transfer and apply outside of school. Now the aim is not just to be a member but an active member. If possible, take up leadership positions within your group. This is good because it will equip you with skills that you will need when you start applying for jobs or engaging in side hustles.For example, I was a part of my school’s newspaper team while I was in school now I enjoy making a blog post. If I ever want to work for a media or publication firm I can put my blog on my resume. Some people even reach out to publications and sell blog post and they make decent coins from it.It doesn’t have to be writing. Regardless of what skills you learn from your clubs, I promise you it is marketable.
Research/Internship courses: Not every program of study has this as an option but if your program offers it I will say try it. It is time-consuming and it requires commitment but if you can put in the work it is a great experience. Research courses are mainly offered to upper year students. Even though it is mainly research, you get credit towards your degree as it is a course. They are not your typical everyday school setting. In fact, they do not require a lot of students. I have definitely seen one where it is just about 1-3 students in the course. Most of your time you will spend doing either group/independent research or assisting in ongoing research. This is more than just a good work experience on your resume, it is a great hands-on experience. As you and I know most of what is taught in college is theoretical you never really get to learn hands-on till you get into the workforce. Having this knowledge and experience prior, allows you to talk confidently about your work during your interview and make your transition seamless when you eventually land the job. because I know you will.
Work-study positions: The idea is pretty similar to research courses but they are not the same. The difference is you don’t get credits towards the completion of your degree and it is PAID. It could work differently at your campus but from my understanding, there is usually a hiring period for this in schools. This usually takes place closer to the end of the school year into the summer. There are normally various openings for different school clubs, faculties and departments looking to hire for the summer season or the new school year. If you are an international student (in Canada), this is one of the exceptions you have to work as many hours as possible without government restrictions. You can use this to gain full-time work experience and of course, get paid.
Volunteer activities: This is my favorite because it is flexible and you have a lot of options. Depending on what volunteer role you pick you may only be required to do it for 1 day or 1 week. Aside from volunteering for clubs, you can also volunteer for the school itself. Colleges are constantly looking for students to volunteer for other institutions that they partner with, or events they are hosting. Sometimes they give certificates at the end of the volunteer period. Asides that it looks good on your resume, you also get to maintain a good co-curricular record in the school, if it is a big or notable partner institution, you can put them on your resume as bragging rights.
Maintain Good Relationships
Maintaining good relationships: When I say maintaining good relationships I don’t mean with peers. That is important for your personal wellbeing. But, I am referring to relationships with professors, teaching assistants or supervisors. This may not be necessary for the workforce per se, but if you are looking forward to higher education it comes in handy. If you are looking to take your Masters or Ph.D. immediately after school or at a later time you need to be connected to these people. Most times, if not always, schools request for an academic reference from your professors or teaching assistants. You don’t want to get to that part of your application and become frustrated. Trust me it is frustrating looking for professors to give you references and when you approach they barely even recognize you were one of their students. To avoid that you need to maintain a good relationship. You can’t maintain a relationship if you did not build it in the first place. So, try building them early!Now, this doesn’t mean you need to try to build one with every professor or teaching assistant you have. You just need three or four. Most times they ask for 2 references but you want to have options. Just In case one disappoints or is unavailable you have a backup on speed dial.Quick Recap;
Join clubs/ memberships: helps you develop skills that are marketable and can be applied to the real-world setting.
Research/internship courses: gives you hands-on expertise.
Work-study positions: you get paid for an amazing experience working with your school + international student can get full-time experience.
Volunteer: gives flexibility and the added advantage of working with different organizations and departments.
Maintaining relationships: you have references when you need it.