Four-year job plan for college students

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I just got off the phone with a guy in Gaza who coordinates a jobs program there for college graduates. Unemployment there is sky high even for college grads, in large part because the economy is in shambles but also because universities fail to prepare students for real-life careers. Accounting majors may gain a thorough grasp of finance theory, for example, yet have no clue how to apply the practices to market situations. That, and their land is often under attack.

You Millenials are sick and tired of all the old farts telling you how lucky you are, how you’ve got it so easy. But c’mon. You’ve got to admit your lot is loads better than that of someone who can’t attend classes the next few weeks because the campus is getting shelled.

We’ll make it even easier for you. The folks at ERE, a global network of recruiters, has devised this year-by-year action plan.

Freshmen: Make Connections, But Post Wisely

Review what you’ve posted online, whether it’s on MySpace, Facebook or your own blog. “Employers you may apply with in the future will be searching for you online, so don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see,” says ERE’s Editor in Chief Todd Raphael.

Network and make connections in person and online. Other students, their siblings, parents and friends, can be great sources of career advice and referrals.

Sophomores: Get Involved
To increase your potential value to employers, cultivate relationships with your professors. “Recruiters at the hottest companies are increasingly going to professors and asking them who their brightest students are,” says Raphael. “Students should demonstrate that they’re motivated, hard-working and think creatively.”

Get involved in campus organizations and jobs that you most enjoy. If you’re interested in politics, work with the local Board of Elections on Election Day. Interested in non-profits? Organize a charity event.

Juniors: Intern, Learn and Plan
Work with your career center to develop your resume and identify strengths and areas of improvement. This is the time to boost your skills and weed out what you don’t like.

Internships are an invaluable tool to increase your marketability with employers post-graduation. Consider an internship in an area that’s not your strongest suit. If you want to be a better writer, look for a gig with a lot of writing.

Seniors: Explore Opportunities Off the Beaten Path
Everyone will want to interview with Google, but there are also jobs available at lesser-known companies in growing sectors like transportation, energy, defense and even foodservice. “Jobs at quietly successful companies can be really rewarding,” adds Raphael.

Consider relocating. There are a lot of job opportunities in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Utah, the California desert and Florida.