The college narrative is changing.
The college narrative you’re probably hearing from your parents and guidance counselors may be the same story I heard in high school in the late 90s.
However, the world we live in today does not resemble what it was even a decade ago.
What is the typical college narrative?
Push yourself in high school, get the best grades, and take a lot of AP classes. Why?
So you can get into the best college, land the perfect job, and find the ideal life.
Unfortunately, none of this information longer holds the same weight, nor does it correlate with the way the economy is moving.
Does this mean you shouldn’t consider college?
Absolutely not—it means you should consider college when and where it’s the right time for you, not because everyone you says you have to follow the same path from a former era.
Today, many college graduates don’t immediately find a job after graduation. Although the U.S. job market is still reasonably robust, new college graduates are running into challenges as they begin looking for their first role.
Also, LinkedIn recently shared that unemployment for those with a new Bachelor’s Degree or higher was 3.9% in December of 2019.
America’s student debt stands at $1.6 trillion today.
And, as more college-bound students take out loans for four-year degrees, odds are more than likely that student debt will continue to rise along with unemployment rates.
What can you do now to get ahead?
While you finish your degree, here are a few ways you can make and save some extra money.
Making and saving money in college.
Freelance or Start A Business
Freelancing or starting your own business (even in college) is becoming more popular today. Why? Many Americans are looking for flexibility, strong leadership, solid job training, stability, and freedom—and they aren’t finding it with a typical employer.
Also, more Americans are putting their financial and employment lives in their own hands due to layoffs, negative leadership, and the desire to live a life filled with purpose, meaning, and independence.
Although you may not want to become a full-time freelancer once you finish school, it is still an excellent way to gain early industry experience, learn about the business world, and make valuable contacts before you graduate.
You can find or post your own freelance jobs in places such as online job boards, Fivver, and Upwork. Even LinkedIn offers a site now for freelancers to bid on projects. You can find their offering through LinkedIn Profinder.
You can also start your own business. It is easy to quickly build a website today with the many options at your disposal, launch an S corp, market a little bit, and you’ll be surprised at what you can create.
Freelancing can also allow you to start building an online portfolio for potential interviews while you’re still in school.
Every junior or senior in college should begin looking for work-study programs and summer internships.
One right internship can give you valuable work experience in many areas as well as help you put a little money away. Also, the time you spend with a company can help you get your foot in the door, and you’ll have people to reach out to when you graduate. Internships are also learning opportunities; you can gain real-world knowledge and insight about your potential career.
It is best to find internships as early as possible, as they do fill fast. Check out your local high school partnerships, reach out to friends and relatives to learn, and start creating positive, engaging, and ongoing business relationships.
Build Credit Now
Financial experts advise that although most employers don’t pull full credit scores, they can get a modified credit report showing debt and payment history, according to NerdWallet.
Sometimes, employers can check credit to get insight into a potential hire, as they look for signs of financial distress, theft or fraud.
Both existing and potential employers can pull credit reports. Although they may not, it’s essential to know how your credit score can affect potential employment.
You do not have to take out major credit cards to begin building credit. Many secured student credit cards can help you gradually make a financial presence that demonstrates fiscal responsibility. Mostly, these types of student credit cards do not have high-interest rates.
To start building credit in college under your own name, keep your charges low. Use your credit card to buy small things you would typically buy. Be sure to pay off the balance every month, and you’ll build a decent score while earning some money as well as learning future business skills.
You’ve probably heard this many times (or not), but networking is one of the most important things a student can do today.
Why can networking help you with your finances? While you’re in college, you may not be worrying about your future life, although it does matter. You should be working toward building key contacts now, so you aren’t wasting time and losing money when you graduate in the future. Having those essential relationships built in before you graduate can put you way ahead of your peers when it comes to landing the right job.
Relationships are critical to your future when it comes to landing the role you want.
Today, although there are many job openings, the market is still competitive—which is why having a growing network is the secret to success.
Long gone are the days when you could send in a resume, and have an interview by the end of the week. You can get on LinkedIn, find a mentor, and start reaching out to people in your desired industry today.
Attend networking events near you, through your local library, and on-campus. The connections you make before you graduate could very well land you a full-time job right out of the gates.
Work with your academic advisor to come up with a career strategy. Be sure to research your industry and build the skills that will be in-demand when you graduate.
Combine these tips, and you may just be ready to land your first role right out of college.