Gain Experience Outside of the Classroom

Many people go to school in search of better work and career opportunities.  Truth be told, career is about more than education. If you simply go to class, study, and repeat, you will likely not gain all of the skills you need to be successful in the work world. Take part in the following activities to gain a bit more experience.
Work while you’re in college. Even if it is just part-time at McDonald’s, a work-study in the registrar’s office, or waitressing at the local diner, working while you’re in school will teach you how to manage your time and how to work with others. In addition, it looks good on a resume. Yes, you heard me correctly. Working at all while you’re in school tells recruiters and managers that you can juggle multiple responsibilities and still come out ahead.
Take an internship. Complete at least one internship while you are in college. Your areas of study likely lend themselves well to a number of careers, industries, and even department and company cultures. Take part an internship that gets you close to your dream job (or the persons in that job) and one in an area you are only slightly interested in. These experiences will give you perspective regarding the world of work that sitting in a class and listening to speakers will not. (This also counts as working during college.) 
Meet Your Peers. Your education is your own. However, learning from your peers is also important. Learn about their interests and career paths. These friendships can form anywhere— in the classrooms, libraries, dorms, and sporting events. Be open to them. You may develop lasting friendships as well as solid career connections for the future.
Join Professional Networking (and be active). Yes, I have asked you to work, find internships, and make friends. You should also join professional networking groups geared toward college students.  Be active.  Go to meetings, take part in activities, go to lectures, and, if you have time, join their boards. This will give you exposure to more peers as well as professionals currently doing what you dream of.  These job incumbents make wonderful mentors, references, and connections.
College degrees are growing in importance, but this does not mean that work experience is not important.  I hope these tips help you begin to get hands-on experience, cultivate more specific interests, and build connections.  
Photo from Flickr under the Creative Commons License (No changes were made to the picture.  It is in its original form).  
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