Career Advice for Job Seekers

How to Turn Your College Job into a Career

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
July 7, 2014

Coach watching a batter about to hit

Coach watching a batter about to hit. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Plenty of grown-ups don’t know the answer to that question. College offers a series of different majors, but the career paths that stem from them aren’t always clear. If you major in education, you might feel like you have to be a teacher. If you major in pre-med, you might feel like you have to be a doctor. The truth is, you don’t.

A million shades of gray exist in the wild world of employment. A person with an education major could end up landing a job as a writer or editor in their field of expertise. A person with a pre-med major might decide to skip med school and take a position as a research assistant or lab technologist.

Finding Your Passion

Finding the perfect career is about finding your passion. Many students take part-time work in a field that interests them. The part-time job you love today could be the key to full-time job you love tomorrow. Here’s a look at three common student jobs and where they could eventually lead:

Youth Athletic Coach

Perhaps you’ve coached little league, your sister’s swim team, or your brother’s wrestling team. If so, you’ve probably already learned about the administrative duties, PR commitments, and recruitment responsibilities associated with the job, not to mention the pedagogy of the sport.

Coaching teaches you the fundamentals of leadership and group dynamics. Your experience could translate to a job in the classroom or at a public health facility like the YMCA. It might lead you down the path of sports medicine, physical therapy, or massage.

Make a list of the things you love about coaching. Is it the positive impact you have on kids? The thrill of competition? The sport itself? Your answers to these questions give clues about where your coaching experience could take you.

Hotel Clerk

Perhaps you work as a hotel desk clerk. If so, you’ve already gained valuable experience in the areas of customer service, hospitality, and multi-tasking. Hotel work can prepare you for a career in corporate management or hotel communications. If you like the chain you’re working for, you might even find full-time work there once you’ve graduated.

As a corporate manager for a hotel, you would be responsible for the managing the company’s resources through strategic planning. Because the hospitality industry is so broad and technology-dependent, you might find a career in communications that suits you.

Why do you enjoy working at a hotel? Is it the satisfaction of serving others? The interactions you have with other hospitality professionals? The atmosphere of the hotel itself?

Call Center Worker

Working in a call center requires a listening ear, the ability to solve problems and multitask, and computer skills. You might not intend to work in a call center forever, but the experience you get there could lead to a full-time job upon graduation. Whether you represent a business, charity, or bill collection agency, your call center experience could translate to a full-time job in counseling, accounting, marketing, computer science, and more.

Advice for Student Workers

Whether you love your college job or can’t wait to leave it, the professional connections you make today have a ripple effect into your future. Remember these tips as you work and pursue your degree:

  • Professionalism is king. Even though you’re a “just a student,” be on time and act the part. There’s an old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This applies to your on-the-job behavior as well.
  • Flaunt a positive attitude. A “can do” attitude will take you far with your superiors, and you’ll get glowing letters of recommendation from them if you give the job your all.
  • Ask questions. The more you learn about the job you’re in, the more you’ll understand whether it is – or isn’t – the right career path for you.

Finding your place in the world of work can be tough. Examine what you’re learning and question how you’re feeling in your current employment situation. The answers you get just might point you toward your dream job.

Author Bio:

Joe Fortunato is a freelance writer from Tampa, Florida. He enjoys learning about new subjects, following his Baltimore Orioles, and traveling the country for fishing. You can find Joe on Twitter at @joey_fort.

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