The days of attending a brick-and-mortar college for four years and earning a degree at the same time you land your perfect career job may be obsolete as more students take longer to get through school. Some earn certifications along the way while others are part of hybrid programs focused on a bachelor’s/master’s combination.
With online universities as prominent as traditional colleges, today’s student needs to think more like an entrepreneur whose education is just one part of a whole career scenario.
Find Your Role
According to psychologist Erik Erikson, human beings go through various stages of development throughout their lives. Babies learn to trust, three-year olds learn about guilt and five-year olds discover their own competency. At the young adult age, humans explore roles, creating an identity for themselves or falling into patterns of role confusion.
In Erikson’s time, this stage happened between 12 and 18, but by living at home and interacting through digital technology, the millennial generation has extended this stage. During this stage, an individual self-defines as a successful worker, an employee or a drifter. Long before your land your first career job or start your first business, decide that this is the identity that you want for your life.
When identity meets college success, a student creates a belief in his or her ability. This is called self-efficacy and is the single most important component of continued accomplishment. Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own ability to accomplish a task.
Long before a child takes a first step, that child must believe the step can be taken. This is a foundational factor of the entrepreneurial mindset and an important belief in interviewing for a career job.
Creating self-efficacy is a reason to party hard and still maintain good grades. By doing so, you instill in yourself the belief that you can handle most anything. This attitude is reflected during interviews and investor pitches.
Every employer is looking for passion. Every employee wants a company that shares passion. This is seldom found on a national job database like CareerBuilder or Monster.
During your college time, search out specific companies within your field of interest. Large companies such as cyber security giant LifeLock post their internships and entry level positions on their site long before they put them on a national database. Finding your first career job in this manner changes the dynamic from landing the first job that comes along to securing a lifetime position.
Develop Your Brand
You are your greatest asset, and it is your job to show this to potential employers. Like an entrepreneur, you will need to figure out who you are and how you will portray this image.
During the college years, develop relationships with teachers and mentors and compile a portfolio of references and achievements. These will become your marketing material as you go forward and begin to sell yourself.
If you do not attend a traditional school, look for ways to present the good things about your education and link them to your special image. Use your school’s resources as a business network for your personal brand.