This is a guest blog post written by our Campus Ambassador from SUNY Oswego, Ilyssa Weiner.
Sure, the internships you do outside of college are essential to landing the job after graduation, as well as what you learn from them. However, you shouldn’t overlook what you do while classes are in session. It doesn’t matter what you take, whether it’s a random class like Anthropology 111 or a class required for your major. Every class you take is another step in preparing you for life after college. Here are some ways your college classes can prepare for the real world:
- Showing up AND being on time
Think of your professor as your boss. It’s your job to come in and listen to his or her lecture. If you constantly show up late or don’t show up at all without warning, you will be penalized. Too many penalties and you’ll most likely fail the class (of course, it depends on the professor’s attendance policy). Failing the class is the equivalent of getting fired from your job (except you don’t get a redo once you’re actually fired). I can’t tell you how many people I know who have that “Oh. I don’t feel like going to class today” mentality. If you have that mentality while in college, it’ll be even worse when you get a job.
- Don’t be in the clutter. Stand out.
Treat your papers for a class like your resume. Find a way to make it stand out. Professors are looking through somewhere between 30 to 200 papers, depending on the class. They want to see you know the material and know how to utilize it, just like how a recruiter wants to see how well you fit the job description. Also, go to your professors if you’re struggling with them. Ask them any questions you want and even have them look over what you have for a paper. Get feedback from them. The more feedback you get, the more likely you’ll improve. It’s like getting feedback from your supervisor. You want to know how you can improve in your job. Depending on the industry you want to go into and who you get along with well, you can also have your professors take a look at your cover letters or resume.
- Learn how to work in groups
My second semester of college, I took an entire course on how to work in groups. Although I wasn’t crazy about the people I worked with, it taught me how to work with people who weren’t necessarily my best friends or people who were super smart. The people you work with at your future job might not necessarily be your best friends. Learn how to work with different types of people. See where you fit in each group you’re in, whether it’s the leader or the person in charge of making the Powerpoint look pretty. You’re going to have a different role in each group, so learn how to manage each role you’re given. Do your part and don’t let others do it for you. Don’t do all of the work either. Every person on the team should have an equal amount of work.
Contributing to class discussions is like pitching ideas. Your professor wants to hear what you have to say and what ideas you bring to the table about a certain topic. They don’t necessarily have to agree with your idea (the same going for your classmates), but your professor will recognize you more if you do participate, especially if participation is a good chunk of your grade. If you’re spending most of the time in class sleeping or texting, a professor will take of note of that as well. You wouldn’t be sleeping or texting during an important meeting, would you?
I really hate the classes where everyone is silent and on their phone before a professor walks in or starts class. Talk to as many people as you can in the class, regardless of whether you know the people or not. By talking with your classmates and your professor, you’re actually networking, whether you realize it or not. If you find someone in the class who’s going into the same area as you, don’t be afraid to talk to them. Who knows? They may even have connections you aren’t even aware of. The same goes for your professors. Most of the professors for your major have either worked in the industry or know someone within the industry who can help you down the line. Here’s a tip: Don’t be afraid to take a class with a professor you’ve had before. I’ve had plenty of professors I’ve taken classes with two or three times now. Once you’ve taken a class with a professor and decide to take another class with them, they’ll know your work ethic and your personality once they see you on their roster. The more the professor sees you, the more he or she will get to know you and help you down the line.