8 things students should do before they finish their degree

Being a university or college student is a magical time. You get your first taste of freedom and responsibility. Whether you live on campus or stay with your parents to save some money (residence fees are expensive, after all!) it’s a marked change from high school. You no longer have teachers and parents breathing down your neck about handing in assignments. It’s up to you to be responsible and make the most of your education. But you’re still new to this whole responsibility thing, so there’s a lot left to learn. Here are some things we wish we’d been told when we were students!

career tips and job advice for students

travel somewhere exotic

It might sound a little cheesy, but travelling is a life-changing experience. When you travel, you’re exposed to new cultures, people and cuisines, among other things. Basically, it’s one of the most fulfilling and rewarding learning experiences out there. But what no one tells you is that once you graduate and start working full-time, making time for and planning a trip suddenly becomes a whole lot harder. Maybe you only have 2-weeks of vacation (so that month-long backpacking trip is off the table!) or maybe you have a whole lot of other expenses that come first (ugh, rent). So make sure you get those travel experiences while you have the disposable income and time to spare. 

learn how to write a great resume

Writing a killer resume is an essential skill that you’ll rely on for the rest of your career. It doesn’t matter what field you’re going into, or what your job title is. Everyone needs to know how to write a resume to find a job. And since you’re new to the workforce and a lot of your peers aren’t yet seasoned resume writers, getting yours perfect is an awesome way to stand out from the crowd. Check out these resume writing resources for some help:

learn how to cook a few staple dishes

We’re not saying you need to become the next Gordon Ramsay, but you should have a few dishes in your repertoire that you can cook like a pro. Even it’s as simple as a quick pasta dish or the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, you’ll be happy you took some time to learn a few staples that you can rely on when you’re on your own and have to cook for yourself every night.

realize you’re more than your education

You might think that your major or what you’ve learned in school will determine your career path. Spoiler alert: they don’t always. Sure, there are some people who know what they want to do, they go to school and immediately find a career in that field. That’s great if you’re that type of person who knows exactly what your goals are and then sets out to achieve them. But that’s rarer than you think. There are plenty of people who have great careers that are completely unrelated to their education. There are plenty of people who start their career in one direction, and then decide it isn’t for them and get into something different. Careers are flexible, so don’t panic too much about ‘deciding what you want to do’ right this minute. You’ll figure it out.

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volunteer or complete an internship

School is great for teaching you concepts and learning the by-the-books way of doing things, but nothing compares to real-world experiences. That’s why volunteering or an internship can be so invaluable. It’s a great way to try out a career or job and see if you like it – you’re still figuring things out, after all! – without a long-term commitment. 

try something new without worrying about failing

Now is the time to make mistakes and try something that’s completely outside of the box and your comfort zone. When you’re an adult and you’ve settled into your career, it’s harder to take big risks. You’ll have a mortgage or kids or pets, or some other responsibilities that need to be taken care of. Responsibility doesn’t mesh well with taking big risks. So get them in now! Do something outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid of failure. If you do fail, no big deal! You have your whole life ahead of you, and plenty of time to change course and try something new.

make a few great friends

Something no one tells you about being an adult... it’s a lot harder to make friends than it used to be. You don’t meet as many new people anymore when you’re working full-time. Sure coworkers come and go, and you change jobs occasionally, but work friends are different. When you’re in university, you’re constantly meeting new people (a.k.a. potential friends!) through classes or extracurricular activities. These are people you have something in common with (by nature of sharing a class or hobby) so it’s a great chance to build friendships. The friends you make now just might be people you remain friends with for the rest of your life, so treasure them.

start looking for jobs

Start looking for jobs before you graduate. Maybe you’ve heard that unemployment is at the lowest it’s been in two decades, so it will be super easy to find a job. It doesn’t matter. Start looking for jobs several months before you graduate. Something no one tells you is that finding a full-time job you like is harder than you think. You might read dozens of job descriptions before you find one that you like, and then only a few of those actually call you back… 3 weeks after you applied. Then there’s interviewing and job offers and a whole lots of other steps. Finding a job can take longer than you think, so it’s best to get out there early. Also, employers start to put out feelers to hire new grads a couple months before graduation. So if you’re out there early, you’ll have the first crack at applying to job opportunities.

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