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Importance of Career Planning During College with Short and Long Term Goals

written by: Ashley Hansen•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 4/25/2010

Dealing with schoolwork and extracurricular activities can be enough to keep most students busy during their collegiate years. However, the importance of career planning in college should not be overlooked -- you'll be glad to be ahead of the game once graduation rolls around.

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    Will You Get a Job After Graduation?

    College students today are graduating into one of the most competitive job markets in recent decades. With more and more young people attending college, the fact that you have a bachelor's degree isn't enough to make you stand out from the crowd anymore. Students need to do more during their college years to prepare for the job competition they'll face after school is over. The importance of career planning in college can be overwhelming to some students, but in the end you'll benefit from the extra work you put in to plan ahead to get the job you want.

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    Short-Term Career Planning

    Begin your career planning by thinking small. Ask yourself whether you will be qualified for the jobs you want after graduation. Look up job listings for the type of position which interests you. What are they looking for? What qualities and experience will you need to qualify for the job? This can help direct you toward classes and activities that will help you be ready for the tough job market. For example, maybe jobs in your desired field look for applicants who are bi-lingual. If you have the foresight to find this out beforehand, you can enroll in language classes while in college. Maybe the type of position you want requires first-hand experience in the field. In this case, you can talk to a career counselor at school to find out about possible internships where you can earn you college credits.

    The importance of career planning in college also involves your readiness to apply to jobs directly after graduation. Keep track of all the leadership activities, special classes and job or internships experiences in which you participate during your college years. These things should all be listed on your resume. Furthermore, take advantage of the career planning resources at your school, whether it be mock interviews, job fairs or professional speakers. All of these resources will help you be more prepared to get a job right out of college.

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    Long-Term Career Planning

    While most of your career planning during college will be focused on the short term, you should also set aside some time to think about the long term implications of your career choice. Look up the trends for job demand in your field; this will help you to figure out how difficult (or easy) it may be to find the job that you want. You should also consult with professionals, educators and career advisors about possible continuing education opportunities. Depending on what job you want, you may need to attend grad school in order to qualify for a position. For example, occupational therapists are typically required to have a master's degree in order to practice. In other cases, a master's degree is not required, but can greatly increase your job opportunities and earning potential. If you think graduate school might be in your future, you can start planning for it during your undergraduate career by saving money, researching schools and sending out applications during your senior year. The importance of career planning in college with long-term implications is necessary to help students decide whether to earn an advanced degree in their field.

    A great resource for information about specific careers and their job outlook, education requirements and average salary is the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Visit www.bls.gov and search for your desired occupation to find out more about your chosen career path.

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    Get Ahead of the Crowd

    By considering the importance of career planning, you're setting yourself up for more success in the job market. Though some college students may be extremely successful in their coursework, they'll be unprepared for the job search after graduation if they ignore career planning during their undergraduate career. Make sure you set aside time for updating your resume, searching for internships or meeting with a career counselor at school. Each of these steps will help prepare you for the job application process. Plus, once you do get a job, you'll be confident in your skills and experience, helping you to perform better at work.