4 Things to Do as a College Freshman to Guarantee You a Job

In the background, three seated college students interact in a field. Justin Peters headshot below.

Regardless of whether you’re a freshman, a senior or something in-between, there are things you can do now to all but guarantee you’ll get the job you want. 

The earlier you start planning, the better shape you’ll be in. Yes, right now I’m talking to all freshmen out there whose minds couldn’t be farther from careers. But you should be thinking about careers — or at least about setting a few concrete goals that will put you on the right foot before it’s suddenly your senior year. Here are four of them:

1. Make Personal Business Cards

Yup, add personal business cards to your freshman year shopping list. I challenge all incoming freshman to make 100 of their own personal business cards (with details such as cell-phone number, personal email, LinkedIn URL, branding statement, photo, areas of strength, etc.) and distribute them all by the end of your senior year. You’ll be able to use these at networking events, job fairs, and family gatherings — and I strongly recommend you hand one to each of your professors by the end of the class. If you’re feeling really ambitious, www.vistaprint.com has simple design options for 500 business cards that are only $9.99. (I’m sure you can make the case to your parents, and they’ll pay for these.)

2. Join Three On-Campus Organizations

Getting involved and joining on-campus organizations is critical. It is also a great way to spend some of your free time and make new friends. These organizations will help you beef up your resume, build connections and grow skills that you can use in the real world. I suggest trying out three varied types of organizations. For example: the debate team, a sorority and the cooking club. Be careful not to overcommit, though, by joining too many organizations. You then run the risk of not being able to invest meaningful time into each. The key is to challenge yourself and diversify.

3. Find a Work Study Job

On top of attending classes and participating in on-campus organizations, I’m going to throw one more thing at you to juggle during your freshman year: a job. If you haven’t had a job before college, this will help build that Work Experience section of your resume. 

Look for something applicable to your major. IT majors could work the help desk in a computer lab, and science majors could assist graduate students in the lab, even if it’s just by cleaning equipment. Working in these positions may even lead to internships or full-time jobs with professors or faculty at your university. Plus, this gives you a little spending money (so you don’t have to call mom asking for money after a week to pay for “books”).

4. Introduce Yourself to Your Career Services Center

I haven’t seen one college that doesn’t offer some sort of career services counseling, but talking with other students, I often hear they don’t even know where this group is located. If this is the case for you, you’re wasting a precious service that your $40,000 annual tuition bill pays for. This group can help you build and edit your resume, master interview skills and even set you up with employers looking for students with your educational background. Give the office a call, set up a meeting, introduce yourself to the staff and learn a little bit more about what services they offer. I promise this will pay dividends in the long run when you’re searching for an internship or full-time job.