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4 Steps to Gaining the Upper Edge in College College 

4 Steps to Gaining the Upper Edge in College

People are often separated into two categories: “street smart and “book smart”.

street_booksmartStreet smart people are those who maybe decide school is only a means to an end and are ready to be part of the “real world.” These people thrive on the relationships they develop with those around them and are most likely to say they “know a guy”. Street smart people are quick on their feet and adaptable to change. They jump at new opportunities and above all else, they have confidence knowing they are always one step ahead of the pack.

Book smart people on the other hand are on the track to get their undergraduate degree at a university and maybe decide they want a masters or a Ph.D or even a law degree. They have so many initials after their name, others hands’ cramp up just trying to write them all down. Book smart people have a lot of knowledge of ideas, concepts and topics and enough is never really enough. A bonus study session is probably seen as more useful than a meet-and-greet and you may never know the color of their eyes because they are downcast at the pages of text below their noses.

But here’s the kicker: the most successful people in the world are not one or the other – they are BOTH.

College opens up a lot of opportunities, not just to gain a specific skill set, but to network with peers and top professionals in your field of choice. If you are like most new students I know, you don’t have a game plan completely figured out yet. Either you are using a street smart or a book smart approach to college. Here’s how you stand above the crowd and become both.

Many colleges will have internship requirements or matching programs.

However, sometimes they are just recommended. I am telling you right now: the job market does not care your college didn’t require an internship. Entry-level positions are disappearing in many industries and what companies are really looking for when they are hiring is do you have any practical experience you can apply to this job opening.

Find a company you admire during your time in the university and set up a meeting with an HR worker. See what he or she recommends as next steps for you as you progress. This is an easy way to get your name on their radar and to gain some practical advice.

Many companies also offer summer internships and these are nearly always just a click away. Some will earn you cash, others college credit. Both might be the “something extra” to get your foot in the door come graduation. Here are some resources to help you get started. Note the application deadlines!

Do not scoff at the professional luncheons and meet-and-greets.

shutterstock_175340078Update that dusty resume and dry off your sweaty palms: Saturdays are prime meet-and-greet days and as much as you want to sleep in, here’s why you shouldn’t.

There does not exist another event so constructed as to make it virtually impossible for you to go ignored. The meet-and-greet is a room full of impressionable professionals, just hoping for someone to wow them. All you have to do is show up (and maybe read this article to prepare).

Get to know your professors.

These are not just warm bodies standing in front of you in the classroom: your professors are likely some of the top professionals in their field and at one point in their lives, they sat where you now sit. Go to their office hours (this is time throughout the week specifically set aside just to meet with students). Stay after class for a few moments. Having an instructor that can favorably remember your name when they are building a team of undergraduate researchers or when they talk to former colleagues who are looking for new hires is invaluable. Just building a relationship with the people you see every day could lead to a big pay off in the end.

Here’s more Dos and Don’ts to get you prepared for your first meeting.

Treat college like your job.

We understand you are going to college to get a job at the end, but you won’t see as great of success if you don’t treat your time at college like your full-time job.

Here’s what real students had to say about it on Reddit. And this blog post by Jessica Peyton Roberts is both hysterical and informational. In the end, simply understand the kind of investment college is and take advantage of the opportunities you are paying for. It is possible to be both street and book smart with just a little extra effort.

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