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The value of starting your career while in college simply can not be underestimated. This may seem counterintuitive to those still living by their parent’s dictum, “college should be the best years of your life.” Such wisdom would lead a student to believe that the very word “college” is code for “party.” Those were the old days, when college enrollment was lower, jobs were more abundant, and “free love” was a common practice. This is a new era.
Today’s graduates are competing on a playing field that is far from level. College applications submitted by high-schoolers who have volunteered in Ghana over the summer are probably going to be considered ahead of the kid who spent his summer working at a burger joint. What kind of kid spends a summer in Ghana volunteering? The same kid who is going to be working at an advertising firm while he earns his marketing degree. This is just another example of ambitious young people (often prompted by successful parents) doing what they have to do to get an “edge.”
While it may not seem fair, it is certainly true, and doesn’t mean that you are at a disadvantage because your parents don’t have connections and you don’t have a trust fund. This is your education, and you have the power to make it work for you. No matter what your discipline is, starting your career while in college is not only possible, it is invaluable to you as a professional.
Start close to home. Ask your professors if they know of any opportunities in your field. You would be shocked if you knew how many emails and letters deans and department chairs receive from potential employers. Many of these get discarded because educators assume that there is not enough interest from students to fill all of these positions. Prove them wrong.
Use the university’s resources. Go to the career center at your school and find out about internships in your discipline. Also, look into assistanceships with professors and special programs. Most universities are chock-full of opportunities for employment that are related to majors.
If the traditional route is not for you, then maybe you need to check out local businesses. If you study landscape architecture, see if the local plant nursery is hiring. If your major is business, check out local opportunities in sales. As long as you are working in an area related to your field, you are starting your career.
The worst thing you can do is to take a job that has nothing to do with your career goals. Although it may be fun to work in a kitchen with your buddies, it will do nothing for your resume later on unless you are attending culinary school. Employers look at your resume first. They are less concerned about your grade point average than they are with what you have done that prepares you for the position you are applying for.
By beginning your career while in college, you will be a step ahead of the competition. Additionally, by exploring the field before you’ve graduated, you already know your strengths and weaknesses and can tell your interviewer as much. There is nothing more attractive to an employer than a candidate who demonstrates a history of taking initiative, knows where she stands, and is already versed in the trade. There is nothing to lose, and everything to gain from starting your career right now.
A virtual spokesperson for black technology, BlackEngineer aspires to serve as leading news and information provider on the advancements in black technology with deep insights into black engineering, black entrepreneurs, black education, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). In fact, BlackEngineer is one of the very few to promote the achievements of black technology. The Black engineer of the year awards (BEYA) is one of our successful ventures to promote black technology, progress and achievements made in black technology, and the sentiments of the Black community in the US, the UK, Caribbean, and Africa.
Black technology entrepreneurs are increasingly providing the horsepower that drives the global economy. Over the last two decades, black entrepreneurs have created more jobs, and contributed much more to the economic expansion of the Black community as a whole, than any black pastor or politician. Black entrepreneurs are taking risks and building businesses that generate economic growth and increase prosperity in underserved areas, as more minority-owned and minority-focused businesses emerge, willing to serve the financial needs of Black entrepreneurs. US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine's annual list of Top Black Technology Entrepreneurs reflects the expanding scope of leading Black entrepreneurs in information technology, homeland security, and defense.