Sometimes people do not know how or when to change their career or job path. For many, it starts with getting a college education and an advanced, degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2014), “young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school credential (105 percent more) and 57 percent more than young adult high school completers. Additionally, in 2012 the median of earnings for young adults with a master’s degree or higher was… some 27 percent more than the median for young adults with a bachelor’s degree” (http://nces.ed.gov). With numbers like these, the answer to when to take the next step is easy. Now! It is amazing that many more people are not on the track to furthering their education.
For those who are intrigued, the process for furthering your formal education begins with thorough research. It is great to think about what you like doing, but remember to think about all of the things you are good at doing. Before starting or continuing a college education, it is critical that you choose the right field. One that is in high demand and one you can actually succeed in. The more demand there is for a field, the better chance you will have at getting a job offer upon completion of your degree. Check out the article, “The College Degrees with the Highest Starting Salary in 2015” on http://www.forbes.com for a start.
Next comes visiting the prospective schools and learning about their application processes. Each school is different. Make sure you know what is required from the schools you are interested in. For some, visiting the school ahead of time helps to make the decision easier. But, with the introduction of the internet and the wide usage of websites, you can often get a virtual tour and even chat with someone online. For the application process, some schools want an essay or a video resume along with the regular requirements of testing results, admissions application (if you cannot pay the application fee, you can ask, in many cases, to have it waived) and high school graduation information. I suggest you apply at a few different schools. This is also the time to apply for scholarships and financial aid.
Education is the key, now how do you open the door? Once you pick the school, apply and start classes, make it a point to maintain good grades starting from the very first semester. Improving your GPA (grade point average) can prove to be more difficult when you have a bad first semester. To do this go to class, take notes, study until you know you know the material, join study groups, get a tutor, use Google when needed, utilize the writing center on campus, ask friends for help, and the list goes on. Also, be sure to prepare yourself with valid and valuable internships that are related to your field. You can go to your school counselor to find internships, but you can also ask your professors if they know of any internships. Use any and all interview and resume preparation you can find, whether at school or otherwise, so you can be prepared for the new corporate workforce. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Last, but not least, create a brand for yourself. This will help to set yourself apart from other candidates with the same credentials, looking for the same jobs in the corporate world that you are. Think of your brand like jeans. There are many different brands of jeans, but Levis and more recently True Religion and Lucky, are all brands that stick out to the average jean wearer. These three companies have come up with unique ideas in order to be noteworthy and distinct. You too, can make yourself stick out from the crowd.
So, in a nutshell: Go to school, pick the right field, get good grades, work an internship, get a mentor, develop your brand and market it! There are many steps in between, but I believe anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to devote the time and effort needed to make it happen!