Start College with 10 “to do” Activities

Start off the semester smart! Did you know you can actually research and talk to staff, faculty, and campus leaders prior to the start of the semester? Take the time before the semester starts rather than using time when you are immersed in school to figure out what is available, what you want to do, and when you want to do it. This way, you are comfortable knowing that you are taking full advantage of the opportunities college has to offer. Where should you go to seek this type of information? Read on…

  1. Stroll into the Career Center.

Take advantage of the offerings of the Career Center. Check out the Career Center’s website or walk into the Career Center for a list of workshops, job fairs, and networking events. You could find information about career events in a particular major. California State University Fullerton has an Internship and Career Expo scheduled for the fall. Get this information on day one to start the semester informed. Look the information over and select those activities of interest. Take note of the title, date, and time of the activity to log into your calendar or work plan for the semester. Also, why not schedule an appointment to meet with a career counselor? Career counselors get very busy later in the semester with students ready to graduate. Don’t worry that you don’t have a specific purpose for the appointment. Getting to know a career counselor and making that connection is the first step when seeking an internship or job post-college.

  1. Actually talk with your Academic Advisor.

A visit to the Academic Advising Office or Undergraduate Advisement Center on campus is a good place to start learning about available opportunities on campus. Most of the time-we don’t know what we don’t know! Talking to an Academic Advisor about your courses and interests might spark a potential opportunity. Also, advisors know about scholarships, travel opportunities, internships, and popular courses. Ask about these opportunities. As a member of the scholarship committee, I am surprised on how few students apply for scholarships. The college offers approximately 10 to 15 scholarships a year. On a campus of over 20,000 students, approximately 50 students apply for scholarships. Applying for a scholarship is a better “bet” than buying a lottery ticket! Consider the odds.

  1. Snag that list of College Clubs.

Get decisive and choose two clubs of your choice. In fact, did you know that 70% of CEOs held at least one office in a club or organization during college?

Why two? Two means you can dedicate meaningful time and attention to these clubs and take on roles. Choose one club in your major area of study and one club of interest. For example, if you love to perform consider the Acting Club. If you are interested in “giving back” to the community, join a club that fosters this activity. College is a time to foster connections and to start networking. Also, college is a time to find those activities that you truly enjoy. Joining clubs of interest will accomplish both goals because your mission is to find groups of students that have similar goals!

  1. Show off Your Skills.

There are fundamental skills college students should have prior to graduation. Oral and written communication skills are top of the list. Technical skills are a must. Use your classes to your advantage. For example, if you give a presentation on sustainability practices and how nonprofits like One Tree Planted takes tangible action to restore the environment, create a PowerPoint slide deck to use as an example of a well-constructed presentation when on a job interview. Also, consider videotaping the presentation to use as an example of great oral and presentation communication skills. If you are taking a computer class, keep the files to showcase your mastery in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Every course provides opportunities to highlight specific skills needed for the workplace. Capitalize on these opportunities, and don’t forget to keep a copy for your prospective interview.

  1. Manage your LinkedIn Account.

LinkedIn is a social networking site designed for the professional. “LinkedIn has over 575+ million users, with more than 260 million monthly active users.” If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, now is the time to set one up. If you do have an account, a review and update to the site prior to the start of the semester is wise. This way, you can concentrate on building your online community during the school year rather than taking time for the basics of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is used by jobseekers. It can link users with past colleagues, and you have the opportunity to link to companies you aspire to work for. Once you have created a LinkedIn account, you have the ability to do the following:

  • Create a professional profile
  • Develop a network of connections
  • Search for jobs
  • Search for people
  • Send messages to your connections
  • Receive requests for introductions
  • Participate in LinkedIn Groups
  • Participate in LinkedIn Answers

To get started, go to: What you will need is a username and valid email address. So, get started!

  1. Update Your Portfolio.

Compiling information that you will take on interviews is a long and lengthy process. Resume, cover letter, references, business cards, and work examples are necessary when seeking an internship, part-time job, or post-college career. Why not have that basic package, or what I term, portfolio, ready prior to the start of the school year? Remember, once college starts, you will be so busy keeping up with schoolwork and college activities. Taking the time before college starts by collecting this information is a huge time-saver during the college semester. By the way, if you need help, that is what the Career Center is ready to do.

  1. Craft an Elevator Speech.

An important skill when interviewing, networking, attending events, or talking to faculty is the “elevator speech.” An elevator speech is a 30- to 60- second introduction of yourself: name, current status, achievements, and special skills and qualities you bring to the job opportunity. Listen to the following Youtube video on how to craft an elevator speech.

As the video demonstrates, you never know where or when you will meet someone you really want to talk to. That is why taking the time to learn the key elements of introducing yourself, writing and rehearsing the speech, before you meet someone, and prior to the start of the school year is wise.

  1. Stay Abreast of the News.

I know you are thinking, when do I have time to read the newspaper? College students have so much to do and little time to incorporate everything they have to do and do it well. Staying abreast of the news should be added to that list of things to do. Check out the following website:

The reasons to know what is going on in the world are many. First, you are in college and considered an educated person. Second, you’ll be able to talk intelligently to people you meet on campus. That can include peers, faculty, and prospective job recruiters.

Finally, you will be able to talk comfortably and confidently at networking events, parties, and functions you attend. So, pick up your phone and download an “app” where reading the news becomes a habit. Check out the article on how college students get the news!

  1. Look for Opportunities to Publish.

In college, one objective is to separate yourself from your peers. One unique idea is to publish an article as very few students publish. Look for different opportunities to publish which could include research for a course, an article for the college newsletter, or a publication in your field of choice. Check out the following website: Can you imagine putting on your resume that you have published an article in your field of study? That will definitely help you stand out to employers and job recruiters.

  1. Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive.

Be proactive in college. That means find out about everything and everyone that is available to you. Faculty, advisors, counselors, librarian, and Dean of the college are there to help you. Their job is to help you succeed. In fact, they want you to succeed. So make an appointment to talk with everyone. You never know what information you may find out or opportunities that might become available. Read the article by Patricia Gorden Neil: Smart Students Take Full Advantage of College Resources.

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