Career Lessons Your College Major Didn’t Teach You

by sysop in From Campus to Career

Career Lessons

by Katie Kallam

Choose a major. Study hard. Get an internship. Undergraduate students hear these mantras over and over throughout their college experiences. Students are encouraged to make good grades, learn information to pass tests, and get As on projects. But things are different in the work world. From my experience, the lessons I’ve learned outside of the classroom have been the most useful to me.

  • Deadlines matter. Whether it was that professor who was a stickler for turning in your midterm on time or missing out on intramural softball because you missed the sign-up date, college taught you that deadlines are not mere suggestions. If you miss the due date, there are consequences. In the working world, it may not affect your grade or social life, but it will affect the way you are perceived by your colleagues and your supervisor. It could cost you opportunities to take on more responsibility in the future, or worse, your job itself. Pay attention to deadlines and work ahead to meet them.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Guzzling coffee and pulling all-nighters in the library just isn’t going to cut anymore. Ensuring that you meet deadlines means planning ahead so that you finish your work, not only on time, but that you do it well. You want to create a reputation among your colleagues of always being prepared and thorough.
  • Be a team player. Remember that group project when no one showed up for meetings and you ended up doing all the work? What about that guy who dominated the conversation in class? Don’t be that guy or girl. Pull your weight. Speak up in meetings but not too much. If you’re given a task to do, do it. Remember that your colleagues are counting on you to work together to achieve your goal.
  • Get involved. The students who made the most out of their college experience are the ones that got outside of their specific area of study and involved themselves with activities and events on campus. You have your specific role which should be your number one priority, but look for opportunities to vary your involvement in your organization. Like planning parties? Ask if you can join the social committee. Like to write? Maybe you can contribute a few posts to the organizational blog. You have varied skills, and the organization as a whole can benefit from them.

Don’t get me wrong. It is good that you studied hard and made good grades within your major. But that’s not everything. Every day, the experiences you have are forming your character and personality into the type of employee you will be as your career develops. Pay attention to honing those good habits and experiences – and then make the most of them.