It is that time of year where college graduates will receive their well-deserved diploma and embark on their next chapter, full time employment. As recent graduates put together their resumes and begin the challenge of job searches, the anxiety of trying to find a job can become overwhelming with the fear of not having enough experience to get an entry-level position. In order to be set up for success, there are several necessary steps each graduate should take to ensure they are prepared to find the right position upon receiving their degree.

From accounting to business, communication, history, and so on, there are endless amount of majors and minors to choose. With that in mind, it is important to think ahead. While most people enter college not knowing what they want to do once they finish school, picking your major can have an impact on your post-graduation job selection. If you majored in history, trying to get a finance job is going to be a challenge. On the other hand, if you graduate and you decide you want to try sales, then your major does not have as strong as an impact, even though it helps if you have a business degree. Whether or not you know what you want to study, it is good to think about what you like and do not like, then you can narrow down your choices from there.

When it comes to classes, it is important to at least take one class that is related to business or accounting. The reason for that is to gain real-world perspective. For example, some accounting classes have students track the stock market and even have students invest in certain companies to understand how the market works, what happens day to day or what could happen. Business classes can offer a basic understanding of a real office dynamic, management styles, and how to develop entrepreneurial skills. Not everyone wants to transition into the business field; however, no matter what field you are in, understanding an office environment and the details behind a company is critical.

After completing the general class requirements typically completed during freshman and sophomore year, your junior and senior year are heavily focused on your major. These two years are key years pertaining to your post-graduation success. During junior and senior year, it is important to get work and/or volunteer experience through paid/unpaid internships, volunteering, or even holding a part-time job while in college. Future employers like to see that you have some experience in a work environment and are learning skills that will be important in your desired field. Employers know that you won’t have all the requirements for an executive position, but you will become more qualified for an entry-level type job by completing internships and part time work.

After crossing the stage and receiving your diploma, now comes the time to job search. A key way to finding a job is networking. The majority of schools have a career center that helps current and past students land their first job. These resources are useful because they can give great direction on how to structure your resume and cover letter to grab an employer’s eye. Be sure to utilize the personal resources all around you as well, such as your roommates, activity groups, or family. By reaching out and talking to these varying groups about what you are interested in pursuing they can provide you with a list of contacts that might be able to help you land a job.

The last key tool is utilizing online job searches. There are plenty of job search engines online that companies use to advertise their job postings along with recruiting companies that work directly with companies looking for new hires. Posting your resume or signing up for job alerts can increase the chances of finding a job. Be sure to have your LinkedIn update to date and include a short summary of your experience and what you might be seeking. LinkedIn is the top tool for networking and connecting, especially for recruiters and employers and your profile should be up to date and mirror your resume.

College is a fun and exciting time but don’t let it just be a social experience. Think ahead to each summer regarding internships and how that might align to your long term plan after college. It is perfectly normal not to know your major when you start and to be unsure of what you want to do upon receiving your degree. However, college is a great time to figure that out! Be involved in extracurricular activities, organizations, and part time jobs where you can develop your skills, get real work experience, and further define what you want to do upon graduating.