This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater, Penn State Abington, as a member of a Corporate Communications alumni panel. As a student, I remember attending these panel sessions, appreciating the valuable career advice and perspective the panel members offered. Quickly approaching 4 years since I've stepped foot on the beautiful campus, I jumped at the opportunity to come back and speak to students to share my experience and, dare I say, words of career development wisdom.

While this particular session was geared towards Corporate Communications students, the advice offered by myself and the other panel members can really apply to future graduates in any major looking to set themselves up for success in a career they love upon graduation.

1. Intern, Intern, Intern - Whether your school mandates internships as a part of your graduation requirements or simply recommends them, secure an internship - or rather, internshipS. Don't wait until you need internship credits to start looking and applying for internships. As one of the most educated generations, simply having a degree no longer sets you apart in the workforce, but experience does. Intern as early and as often as you can so you can start getting the experience you need to distinguish yourself from the competition. Plus, internships are a prime opportunity to identify what you enjoy, or possibly even more importantly - what you don't like about a particular career path.

2. Network - This is a piece of advice given by almost every professional and while it might seem a bit cliche, nearly every member of the panel had personal anecdotes on how networking benefited or impacted their career. This trick here is to simply meet and get to know people in the field you're looking to pursue. Do not approach networking with a "What's in it for me?" attitude. Instead, approach it with sincerity in learning more about the professional. Set up informational interviews over coffee or lunch just to get a better idea of what this particular professional does everyday. Find out what they love about theor work or what they find most challenging. This will help you get a perspective that isn't necessarily offered in your textbooks and it may open up opportunities for you later down the road.

3. Be Proactive in Developing Your Skills - Regardless of whether you know exactly what you want to do upon graduation or are still trying to figure it out, identify different career paths you could take with your major and begin to develop your skills and experience. More specifically, research different positions in that career trajectory and take steps to build out your resume accordingly. For example, certain positions may require that you have specific certifications outside of your degree. While you may not want to immediately enroll in that certification program, you can begin looking at the course work and requirements.

Overall, take the time while you have it to explore your opportunities. Maintaining a high GPA is important but it's not the only thing employers look at when considering their candidates. Take initiative and balance the time you spend studying with gaining experience.

Interested in taking me up on the first piece of advice listed here and joining the Source One team as an intern? We're always looking for motivated individuals who are interested in learning more about procurement and strategic sourcing, as well as gaining exposure to dozens of industries. To learn more about our internship opportunities, visit Careers at Source One.

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Carole Boyle

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