Although many college students may view senior year as the time to start thinking like an adult, junior year is really the time to do it. By no means does this imply you are obligated to stop engaging in student life and must spend all your time networking in business suits, but you do need to start shaping your mindset for that reality. Otherwise, you will enter senior year with no preparation for the real world that is ever so quickly approaching you.
Possibly the biggest reason for all this is the fact that internship season is falling upon you. If you haven’t had an internship already, the summer between junior and senior year is crucial for landing one. But landing one is not easy – you must be aware of that. The application process is no walk in the park either. Internships spots are competitive and employers choose wisely, so this isn’t something you can blow off until the last minute or breeze through in no time. Allotting enough time to thoroughly research opportunities fit for your desired career path, write perfectly tailored cover letters, and polish your resumé should be very important parts of your year. If you don’t do everything you can to follow through on these opportunities now, you will find it much harder to impress employers when applying for actual jobs throughout your senior year, and therefore may need to take on internships as a post-grad; though this is increasingly more common in today’s economy, it is still not preferred among antsy college graduates.
Odds are most of this is probably intimidating and foreign to you as a college junior, since your past two years of college were most likely focused on studying and socializing – a.k.a. being a student. Since you are now coming to terms with the scary fact that you won’t be a student forever, you need to learn the ropes of professionalism so you won’t be blind-sighted when you get your first internship interview or networking meeting. One rude-awakening you must go through is getting the classic business suit. Nothing will freak you out more than looking in the mirror when you first put one on, but if you attend an interview in anything else, many employers will view you as young and unaware of real-world professional etiquette.
Going along with the suit, do a little shopping to find a nice portfolio to carry your resumé around in. This is another integral part of your adult image. Also, don’t be afraid to start networking with alumni in your desired field so you can get as in-depth a look as possible into the substance of what you’re training to be a part of. Plus, making connections is always a positive thing that will often help you later on.
In conclusion, a good deal of junior year should be spent researching the adult world. Take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to jump into it just yet, but you’re relatively close, so this is a good time to prepare yourself without any immediate pressure. If you do this now, you will have much more of a clear head senior year and not have to waste your final semesters of college completely panicked and rushing to figure things out. You’re going to be hit hard with reality either way when you hit senior year and even more so when you graduate, so you might as well pave a good path while you have the time to balance it out with your student lifestyle.