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Great College Student Career Paths

written by: Matt Schmidt•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 4/23/2011

Are you a college student thinking about ways to enter the workforce? This article will look at some of the ways students can find their careers; some are traditional and some are off the beaten path.

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    Every college graduate has faced this phase at one point. After years of study, tests and term papers, graduates come to that grey area of leaving academic study to enter the work life. This article will explore some of the best career paths for college students.

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    College Resources

    grad One way to start your career path is the traditional job search. The first place that college students should go is their school’s career center. This office specializes in helping college students transition from the academic setting to employment. One of the services provided is the development of a resumé. Career service offices also have contacts with employers. The office coordinates Job Fairs where college students can meet and find more information on potential employers. Students in their junior year should attend these fairs to begin exploring jobs in the career areas of their choice.

    Students should also attend seminars offered by the college to assist with seeking a career. Students should not overlook temporary and seasonal employment in or near career areas of their choice. A part time job with a flexible schedule can help students gain general experience as well as help pay for school. Some schools also offer a work study program where students in a college office at minimum wage part time. Students gain valuable work experience while in school to prepare them for employment after. The career center may have a job board for openings in the area.

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    Internships

    The internship provides students real work experience in corporate, government, and non-profit sectors and is one of the best career paths for students.

    Internships can be part of a student's academic curriculum or a stand alone program. Internships vary on whether they are paid or unpaid. Students can find internships in strong growth fields like accounting, finance, and engineering.

    Companies like J.P. Morgan Investment Bank and KPMG offers internships in banking and accounting. General Electric and Lockheed Martin offer internships in engineering and technology.

    Government agencies provide internships at the federal, state, and local levels. The Federal Career Institute Program places individuals in a two year internship program in federal agencies, after which they are eligible for permanent employment. The Capital Fellows Program places interns in programs with California government.

    Students should contact individual agencies in their state regarding internship opportunities. Non profit organizations across the country offer internships. Museums and educational institutions like the Smithsonian have programs. Students should also look into summer internships in their field, within their last two years of school.

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    Volunteering

    College students are entering one of the toughest and most competitive job markets after graduation. Many are looking at doing volunteer work as an alternative to entering the workforce immediately after school. With volunteering, students gain experience in the real world while exploring career interests. Students can find opportunities in their local community through local associations or school student groups. Opportunities are also available abroad.

    Chris Guillebeau, author of the book The Art Of Non-Conformity, spent four years as a volunteer executive for a medical charity in West Africa and states he learned more in those four years than what he learned in college.

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    There are several options for college students trying to find work. The best career paths for college students are different for each individual. Students should look at their career goals and decide what way they want to pursue them.

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    Sources

    National Association of Colleges and Employers www.naceweb.org/Home.aspx

    Forbes Best Internships for 2010 www.forbes.com/2010/01/13/best-internships-jobs-leadership-careers-employment.html

    Federal Career Internship Program www.usajobs.gov/ei/internships.asp

    Capital Fellows Program www.csus.edu/calst/capital_fellows_programs_overview.html

    Volunter Match volunteermatch.org

    Chrisguillebeau.com

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