As we all worked our way through the school years, a common thread running from kindergarten to college was an increasing level of responsibility. They helped you with your homework in elementary school. They encouraged you to do your homework in high school. They expect you to do your homework in college. With that said, here is some advice I wish I had gotten a number of years ago.
Expect college to be much harder than high school. If you start off studying like crazy, and you are doing well, you can always give yourself some additional free time and enjoy the experience. If you don’t put in the extra effort at the beginning, catching up is going to be miserable.
Have a plan. Very few students know what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they first walk on to a college campus. However, they do possess a very valuable piece of information. They know what interests them. Every college has a career center. Use it from the first day of freshman year to the last day of senior year. Your interests can be the foundation of your career, and your career center can help translate your interests into a possible path to a valuable major, a coveted degree, and a viable field of employment.
Do your homework, and not just the class assignments. Don’t rely on the career center alone. Using your interests as a guideline, conduct extensive research to discover what general career paths are most related to the things you like. Through a series of questions, some online sources can translate your personality traits and interests into a list of associated careers. The world is gravitating toward specialization. Career evolution is resulting in the creation of many associated fields from each general career path. As such, there may be more opportunities for candidates with a general interest in a particular career.
Don’t assume that you are special. After you have your list of possible career paths, do some further research to determine which of them is expected to be in demand upon graduation. I cannot tell you how many times I ask a college student about their plans, and they are studying for a degree with career options that are currently contributing more to the unemployment lines than they are to the workforce. Getting into an overcrowded field after graduation is not impossible, but you had better have a great sales pitch and a resume that sets you far apart from others like you if you wish to be considered.
Enthusiasm goes a long way. If you can get excited about your choice of career, I honestly feel it contributes greatly toward achieving ultimate success. Many people wind up in career choices that were steered by the promise of wealth and prestige only to find that it brought no satisfaction to their lives. In the not-for-profit world, there is a term referred to as one’s “mission statement”. It is the purpose for which the agency was formed. College students are on a mission. It is a lot easier to complete that mission if you are passionate about doing so.
Glenn Stanis, CPA
VP Finance, EAC, Inc.
Hofstra Alum ’79 & ‘82