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College Students, Start Career Planning Early

By late spring of Senior year in high school, students have decided which college to attend. Your acceptance into college, your many years of dedication to studies, meaningful extracurricular activities, and high school graduation, are to be celebrated. The summer after graduation is a good time to throttle back and enjoy your accomplishments as you begin your preparations for college, commonly referred to as “the best 4 years of your life,” but don’t take your foot off the gas completely.

Your future career awaits! You may have begun thinking about your college studies, but do you have a plan for your career path? When will internships begin, and which internships will be most valuable? What skills will future employers be looking for? What do you want on your resumé when you graduate? How can you start building your network for your future job search?

The same meticulous planning you did to get into your top choice school is required for launching your career, and that planning starts sooner than most people think. Career coaching for college students starts in college.

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A Career Coach’s Perspective — Don’t Wait to Start Your Career Planning

Here’s a little background about what prompted me to write this post. Each year, I am contacted by parents of sophomores, juniors, and soon-to-be or recent graduates who are surprised to learn that they’re starting late. Here are some of the common scenarios.

Sophomores seeking Investment Banking Summer Analyst roles: These roles begin after Junior year, but the application process begins much earlier. In 2023-2024, we have seen a greatly accelerated timeline for these roles. For example, applications for 2025 summer analyst roles were released in December of 2023. By the time the application is submitted, sophomores in their 3rd semester of school must demonstrate strong academic standing, leadership and extracurriculars, as well as an advanced understanding of the technical information required to succeed in the Super Day interview process. At Priority Candidates, most of our clients start their preparation the summer after freshman year, with our specialized Investment Banking Coaching Program, so they can be fully prepared for the rigorous and competitive recruitment process. Sadly, every year I get a number of calls requesting preparation for investment banking interviews from students who are surprised to learn they are starting too late to put together a successful internship search. If this is the career path you seek, you must start early.

Juniors seeking summer internships: Most juniors are aware of the benefits of a summer internship before their senior year of college, however, many start too late or don’t have a meaningful plan. Lacking sufficient understanding of what will be required for their future job search, many college students apply for anything that interests them, sending out 100+ internship applications indiscriminately. Then they find themselves discouraged by the lack of responses. These students are unaware of the obstacles to getting hired into an internship position. It could be a lack of skills – technology-based or demonstrated soft skills. Their resumes might lack focus or direction, their cover letters might be too generic, or their public profiles (most importantly LinkedIn) are scarce, underpopulated, or even worse, non-existent. The middle of spring semester junior year, is often too late to secure the desired roles as many opportunities have already been filled. At Priority Candidates we encourage students to start preparing themselves for internship applications during their sophomore year or earlier.

Soon-to-be or recent college graduates: When graduation comes around many young adults still have no idea what they want to do – but they need a job. My advice is often to direct them to our Career Assessment Program, where we use data driven analysis to hone in on specific careers that are a strong match for an individual’s thinking styles, behaviors, and interests. Once determined, there is often a process of targeted skill-building, depending on the career, before a job search can be successfully conducted.

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Early College Is The Best Time to Begin Career Coaching

Parents, please don’t assume that getting into a highly regarded college is an automatic on ramp to internships and post-graduation jobs. Every student needs to plan proactively, starting at the beginning of freshman year.

You need to understand the majors and minors offered, what kinds of career opportunities they can lead to, and most importantly, what you need to demonstrate in terms of academics, grades, extracurriculars, and skills in order to be a competitive candidate for future jobs. You don’t have time to waste if you want to leave college with your desired job and employer.

I encourage parents to become engaged in helping their young adults gain awareness of the process. Our career coaches at Priority Candidates are experts in guiding students toward rewarding careers. Many of those who are successful start early. In fact, we have even had students work with us the summer before freshman year, learning how to select the right courses and activities to showcase their capabilities and move towards those internships and experiences that will help them succeed in landing a post-graduation job and ensuring a strong start to building the foundation of their career.

Please contact Priority Candidates to learn how we prepare our clients, and your young adults, for success.

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