College is More Than Classes and Late Night Pizza Runs

Ever think college is just classes, finishing papers at the last minute and praying for the instructor you want in the time slot you need? Real life, work life, starts after they hand you the parchment, right?

Wrong. Kim Dority, of Dority & Associates, Inc., a career coach and author, can show you how you can prepare for the workplace and do more than pass finals. She wants students to not only learn the skills they need for their careers, but build a platform for work place success.

In her webinar, Jumpstart Your Career, sponsored by Bryant & Stratton College Online, she outlines 10 ways students can get a foot in the door without leaving the comfort and safety of the classroom. Here’s a quick look at her suggestions. For the recorded version and to register for future webinars, visit

1 – Set a career agenda. Instructor, employers, spouses, in-laws, parents, neighbors – they all know what they think you should do to succeed in school. It’s is up to you to build the career that you want. Decide what you want to accomplish to build your career. This includes improving business skills by learning and using business tools like spreadsheets and power point for a college project. Build a professional network by working with classmates and instructors. Use your status as a student to learn as much as possible about the business from mentors and current professionals.

2 – Multipurpose your assignments – Dority says the “student status” causes people who would normally not glance your direction to talk to you for hours on end. Target people you would like to get to know and find way to talk to them by interviewing them for assignments, working with them for group projects or as a field mentor. It is important to put your skills on display to potential employers before you even graduate. Working with professional organizations can help as well.

 3 – Create your own learning assignments - College is the perfect place to fail (so to speak). It gives students a safe place to try new skills and practice them without fear of losing their job. Dority says do not just master the core curriculum specific for your degree, stretch out and learn other business skills and practice them.

 4 - Explore how many different ways your skills can be used – Dority says government statistics estimate Americans change jobs seven times over the course of their career. Learn more about your field and what is possible. Can you telecommute from home? Can you work overseas? Can you work part-time if necessary? Knowledge can give you flexibility to change jobs over the years.

5 – Explore what type of work you might enjoy - Take time to learn what type of job would be the best fit for you. Do you work better independently or as part of team? Do you like to be the point man or behind the scenes? Large corporate conglomerate or small family owned business? Knowing yourself will make your job search more successful in finding a good fit.

6 -  Start a career journal to record your journey and progress – Think of this journal as a coach and a record of progress. It can also be a reminder of what to do next and, to some extent, a confident place to record your reactions and questions.

7 - Make the most of the school’s information resources – Dority says the two most valuable, and often underused, resources on campus are the library and the career services center. The librarian can point students towards great resources to research companies, career fields and industry trends. At the career services center, counselors can often have strong relationships with local employers and can provide information that could help students secure internships or jobs. They can also coach students for interviews, review their resumes and provide referrals and moral support.

8 – Practice doing scary stuff – Again, college is a great place to try new skills. Practice public speaking and working on group projects. Learn and use skills that you know you will need but you may be afraid to try. If you ace them in class you can deploy these skills beautifully in the workplace.

9 - Practice positive expectations throughout courses and class engagements – Dority says it is tough to keep a positive attitude when students are juggling class work, families and often a job at the same time. People get stuck in a negative attitude when they assume that someone or something else has to change for the situation to improve. Nothing will get better until you take action and make it happen. A positive attitude may not solve all your problems but it will steer you in the right direction.

10- - Take a leadership role in your career and your future – Your life and your future belong to you and your job is to take responsibility for them. Specifically, Dority says, take responsibility for your choices. Understand that success happens because of hard work and commitment and your belief in yourself, not because of good luck.

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