If you are like me, as a student, you dreamed of the day where you were a working professional instead of a poor college student trying to balance homework, friends, and a job. However, when graduation day arrives, many students tend to feel more anxious about the future than prepared. A 2018 survey found that only 4 out of every 10 U.S. college students feel prepared for their future careers. That is a low number considering college is meant to prepare you for a successful career!

Luckily, you can prepare now to ensure that you feel confident that you are fit to become a successful professional when graduation comes.

Take Advantage of Available Resources

Many schools have resources that are commonly unused by many students. An essential resource to help with career preparation is your school’s career center. Some useful benefits and resources career centers provide:

  • Resume review
  • Job openings
  • Career fairs
  • Mock interviews
  • Networking events
  • Aptitude assessments
  • Workshops

67% of students who took advantage of their school’s career center obtained full-time jobs instead of 59% of students who did not use the resources provided through their school’s career center. The resources listed above can help you not only land your dream job but gain the confidence and skills necessary to succeed in those roles.

Master Soft Skills Now

Soft skills are personal attributes that help a person function within a team and interact with other people.

While technical skills may help you get the job, 85% of job success comes from a person’s soft skill development. Some important soft skills employers look for include:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

While it may sound like some of these skills are innate traits, soft skills can be developed just like technical skills! Developing a soft skill requires dedication, studying, and practice. If you put in the time now to properly develop and practice these soft skills, you will be well-prepared to succeed not only in your career field but in your personal life as well.

Get Involved In Your Career Field

Experience in your career field can help prepare you to master the skills necessary to succeed in your field before you begin your career.

  • Internshipsare a common way for students to dip their toes in their desired profession. Internships vary from company to company, but internships are usually one-time working experiences for students and young professionals. Internships may be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, and sometimes the most successful interns may be hired once the internships are over.
  • Another common way to gain experience is through research and campus jobs. Finding a research position or student worker position within a department you are interested in can lead to valuable experience and professional connections that can help connect you to potential employers.
  • Additionally, some career fields may have many opportunities for volunteering, even outside your field, which can help you develop some of the soft skills mentioned above to make you better prepared to be a working professional.
  • Outside of professional development, volunteering can be personally rewarding and something you may find a passion for.
  • Colleges, no matter their size, have student associations and organizations of every kind on campus. A student organization within your career field will likely help connect you to employers and other like-minded individuals wanting to join the same profession. Student organizations outside of your career can still play a role in your professional development, leadership skills, and social skills that will be used in your profession.

Start Building Time-Management Skills

Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between activities.

Proper time management skills can help you manage your time more effectively and in turn, improve your efficiency. There is a plethora of apps, books, blogs, and tools to help with time management, but it is important to focus on the underlying skills that compromise time management:

  • Awareness: realistically understand time if a limited resource
  • Arrangement: designing/organizing the way you will use your time
  • Adaptation: monitoring your use of time and adjusting to interruptions and priority changes

Developing time management skills will take time, so it is best to start now. Proper time management skills can help lower stress, wasted time, and life friction. Time management skills can help you get more done, improve efficiency, and improve your reliability. The sooner you develop time management skills, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits.

Time spent now is saving you time in the future!

Develop the Right Mindset Now

The right mindset may be the ultimate tool needed to make the transition from student to professional. Skills learned in the classroom may not transfer as smoothly to the workforce as students may hope. Some important characteristics of the right mindset include:

  • Having a positive attitude
  • Willingness to learn/ Student mentality
  • Focused
  • Prepared to accept failure

A positive attitude can help a student persevere when the job gets hard. New professionals will be taught many new concepts in a short time-frame, and many will have trouble keeping up. By having a willingness to learn, a student mentality, and remaining focused, new professionals will be able to all the new concepts and learn to apply the concepts correctly with some time and patience. Ultimately, new professionals and students need to be ready to accept failure. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and individuals can use failure to improve and grow in their job position. Developing the right mindset can ease the stress of starting a new job. Students who develop the characteristics above now will have fewer challenges switching to the right mindset when transitioning.

Transitioning from a student to a professional can feel overwhelming at times. Properly preparing now can help ease the anxiety of the big life-change that is starting your career. By following the tips and advice listed above, you can find yourself well-prepared to succeed in the work field. The tips above not only prepare you to succeed at a job, but they prepare you to land the job and stand out above the competition. With a little time, effort, and determination, you can set yourself up for success and develop skills that will follow you throughout your entire career!


Hannah Husgen is an Analyst at Abacus CPAs, LLC in the Traditional Tax Department. She is highly dependable at providing comprehensive methods for monitoring activity. Others can count on her to plan thoroughly, coordinate details, and be pragmatic in the use of diagrams and schedules she creates.

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