17 Career Advice Tips for College Students

Looking for the best career advice for college students? Not sure where to start?

It can be a little intimidating for sure. The thought of starting a career can keep you up at night, but proper planning goes a long way.

A whole lotta effort and perseverance are required, but the sleepless nights get easier once you know where you’re headed. 

Don’t let the uncertainty of the future get the best of you—keep reading for some solid career advice. 


Why career advice matters

Good career advice provides a roadmap to establishing goals, choosing the best career for yourself, and succeeding in your industry. It’s a fundamental part of career planning.


Who gives career advice?

Career advice can come from anywhere, of course, but be selective in the advice you follow. Not all sources (or advice!) are created equal.

As a starting point, try working with a professional career advisor or a career counselor


Where do I find career counselors? 

Look for a qualified career counselor at your career center. Most schools and universities have great career advisors among their faculty.


How does one give career advice?

Next up, you might be wondering how someone tells you what career path is right for you. It’s not easy and there are a lot of factors to consider.

When helping you find the perfect job, career advisors often look at your interests and passions alongside your qualifications. 

Your educational background, qualifications, and skills are important, but working at a job you enjoy—and find fulfillment doing—matters too, whether it is your first job or your hundredth.


The importance of career advice

You might be thinking, “Sure, career advice is great for some people. But how do I know if I need career advice?”

Let’s break it down. Here are 3 reasons why career advice helps:


Real-world knowledge

Here’s the thing. Your day-to-day experience of a job could be a whole lot different than what you read in your textbooks. Yes, education matters and your curriculum helps build the foundation of your career, but nothing can replicate real experience in a particular position or industry.

Talking to people who have been there/done that and getting advice from professionals in your field can help you understand the inner workings of a job in a new way. Finding out the best, worst, and most challenging aspects of a career (even if they would be different for you) will give you new insight and understanding into a specific profession.


Getting in the right mindset

Career planning is an absolute gamechanger. It can be the deciding factor as to whether or not you get a job. Planning out your career means thoughtfully creating a clear path to follow. Calculate the steps you need to take to achieve your goals and advance your career.


Combating uncertainty

Straight talk: there is no way to guarantee the future, but you can adequately prepare, build a network, and always re-work your original plans. Career development is no easy task, but you want to take every measure to ensure you don’t fail.

Career advising does just that. With the help of seasoned pros, you can keep your options open: careers that align with your area of study, present minimal risks, and make sense from a practical standpoint. Don’t get me wrong; I love risk-takers. But the lines between foolish and brave can blur oh-so-easily.


Why college students need career advice the most

When you’re about to graduate from college, the world is full of opportunity.  Because you have limited work experience, it’s hard to know exactly where you want to end up. And that’s why career advice is so critical at this stage.

And if you don’t know the end goal, how will you know where to begin?

The person who aspires to hold a leadership position in a multi-national conglomerate is going to have a different career path than the person who aspires to spend their days writing software that powers new technologies.

Both are noble pursuits, but each requires a different career path.


Social media makes networking so much easier

We’re fortunate to be living in the digital age. Our career trajectories are made that much easier by staying connected through various social media platforms.

Newspaper listings and other outdated means of networking are now obsolete—thanks to the internet and social media in particular.

Whether Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or LinkedIn—social media has changed the way careers progress for the better.


The 17 best career advice tips for the taking

Here are the best career advice tips for all of you aspiring professionals working to build your careers from scratch.


1. Pick a career path

You may have already chosen a major and, depending on how specialized, some offer more wiggle room than others. Take your time thinking about your career goals. Making a hasty decision may result in changing your career path later in life (which is doable but not easy).


2. Experiment

If you can’t find the answer despite hours of thinking and intense research, it’s time for a trial run.

Explore different possibilities through courses, part-time jobs, and internships. Now is the time to find out what you enjoy… and what you don’t. No need to limit yourself to one field if you’re still deciding.  Not everyone knows their dream job before they get started. For some of us, it takes a little experimentation.


3. Get an entry-level job

You’ve heard this one before: it’s never too late to start your new career. While that’s certainly true, the pendulum swings both ways. 

When you’re just starting out, there’s not much available but entry-level jobs. Take them. Don’t be overly picky. Instead, look for jobs that will help you build relevant skills and bring you closer to your long-term career goals.


4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

For those of you who know your dream job, I’ve got some bad news. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. And most people don’t end up in their ideal position for their first job. Work toward your dream as hard as you can, but don’t shut down other career choices altogether. This “just-for-now-job” could be a stepping stone in the right direction.


5. Do your research before applying

Don’t just apply to any job you find—research it thoroughly and see why you would be right for the position, how it fits with your career goals, and why the company might be a good match. 

As someone who’s been on the other side of the desk trying to hire a new team member, those that are prepared are most likely to get the job. 


6. Socialize

Talk to your co-workers and classmates. You never know who might have connections that help you progress in your career. The more relationships you build, the more opportunities open up. 


7. Be patient

It’s not going to happen overnight. Some people give up on a career path after a couple of bad experiences. Don’t do that. If things don’t change after you’ve put in substantial time and effort, you can move on knowing you gave it your all.


8. Take your college career seriously

You need to build a solid foundation to have a successful career. Ask questions, stay curious, and develop a career mindset. Make sure no matter what job you’re doing in college, you take it seriously. This will add to your CV and pave the way for a successful career.


9. Prioritize your studies

Your studies should be your number 1 priority. No matter how many jobs you do or how many internships you complete, you’ll have a much better chance of landing that dream job if your grades are good and you can apply relevant knowledge. 


10. Seek out quality advice

As I mentioned above, one of the best ways to get quality career advice is to find a quality career counselor. Your college or university will have career services that can guide you to a successful career—taking into account your specific area of study, skills, practical considerations, and what you enjoy.


11. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If you’re working at an internship or part-time job and want to grow with the company, one of the best ways to show you’re interested in a career is to reach out to your manager and the human resources department.

Asking good questions during an interview is also important, both to better understand the role you’re applying for and to get a feel for the company culture.


 12. Get referrals

Outlining your experience and qualifications on your resume is important to nail a job interview, but do you know how to step up your game above your peers? That’s right—it’s by getting referrals.

A consistent work ethic and job performance throughout your work history is vital so you have the receipts (in the form of supervisor recos) to show for it. Moreover, the relationships you build along the way can be advantageous down the road.


13. Dress for the occasion

Believe it or not, the way you dress can make or break an interview. But it’s also more than demonstrating your professionalism. When you put in thought and preparation to your appearance (like all other aspects of interview planning), you’ll feel more prepared and confident—and it will show in your interview. 


14. Be receptive to constructive criticism

If someone gives you feedback about your work ethic, efficiency, or attitude, try not to take it personally. As long as it’s shared in a respectful manner, and the intent is to help you and/or the organization to improve, constructive criticism is valuable for personal and professional growth.


15. Seize opportunities that come your way

Especially early in your career, it’s important to yes to a variety of opportunities—projects, initiatives, or even freelance work. This will give you the chance to build valuable experience, discover more about the type of work you enjoy most, and learn to lead and collaborate with others. You never know what doors may open or what relationships you’ll establish by being open to new experiences.


 16. But keep an eye out for better opportunities

Wherever you’re working, stay dialed into the job market and new opportunities in your industry. Remember, you’re still figuring out and fine-tuning your career path—and that makes it the perfect time to be on the lookout for the next step on your career journey.


 17. Keep it real

Set realistic and fair targets. Don’t look at the people around you. If you progress at your own pace and according to your own goals, you’ll be happy with the results. Promise.


Don’t stop learning and growing

Wherever you land, the best career advice is this: You never arrive. Don’t stop setting goals, learning new things, and reaching for the next milestone.

For all things personal and professional growth, visit The Vector Impact.