• Students and Graduates

Five Tips for Navigating Your Career During College

Our campus recruiters offer sound advice (and reassurance) on how to make yourself a well-rounded job candidate.

What will you study? What career do you want to pursue? These questions can haunt many college students, but they don’t need to be connected. Think of college as a place to explore subjects you’re interested in, and a career path should emerge. Here is advice from our recruiters on how to come out of college with a wide range of skills that employers look for, regardless of the position.

1. There Is No Straight Line

Choosing a major right away isn’t always the only path to a specific career, and it’s perfectly acceptable to change majors along the way. Undergraduates often think that to become a marketer, they must major in marketing. In reality, there’s no single straight path to a career. Many firms, including Morgan Stanley, are agnostic when it comes to a candidate’s major; instead, we look for the right skills and qualifications, and whether the candidate is excited about cultivating a new skill set.

2. It's Also About Developing People Skills

As an undergrad, you learn the basics: How to solve problems creatively, how to research and think critically, how to work and socialize with peers, and how to interact with your professors, advisors, and administrators. Employers consider all of these factors when evaluating what a candidate can bring to a workplace environment and culture—not just the technical skills needed for a specific job.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

You might want to think twice about graduating with a one-sided skill set. If you’re someone who really enjoys math and science, force yourself to take a creative writing class. If you’re in the humanities, take a math course. Aside from your major’s required classes, your transcript should reflect a well-rounded, interdisciplinary breadth of knowledge. Being flexible about your course selection could also introduce you to a new, compelling field that you‘d never have considered otherwise. Also, make it a priority to attend career events on and off campus, and explore professions and companies that haven’t always been on your list.

4. Study What You Love

If you’re passionate about it, then learn it, even if it isn’t related to your major. You’re much more likely to excel in a subject if it’s something you enjoy. Highly motivated and enthusiastic students are more memorable to professors and peers—therefore, more likely to gain leadership positions. Also, while a good salary is important to keep in mind, it shouldn’t be your top priority. As many career veterans will attest, professional fulfillment over the course of an average 30-year work life is often its own reward.

5. Build Networks

Try and build as many different social and professional networks as possible. The more people you know, the greater your chances of finding the job that fits you best. You don’t have to be on a sports team—it can be any club or activity where you can expand your connections and learn how to network. One place to start is your college or university network.  Go to alumni functions that are open to students and speak with graduates about how they developed their careers, and whether they are open to mentoring undergraduates. These events are exceptionally useful resources, especially when it comes to potential internships.

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