College Seniors: Now What? 5 Tips for your Final Year

2016-09-06-1473175028-1170035-163305U_184923143_blog.jpg

There is a fifth season -- school season. The massive migration back to college campuses around the world is nearly complete. September on campus is an incredibly special time. I'm a proud Purdue grad. Although many years have passed, the memories of diving into new classes, football season and camaraderie are still vivid in my mind.

For seniors, this final year is a bit of a paradox. On one hand, it's a time of great nostalgia as you savor every moment of your college experience. On the other hand, the future can't come fast enough as you look ahead with great anticipation to graduation, landing a good job or being accepted into graduate school. Straddling those two worlds - while fending off "senioritis" - is a challenge.

A few weeks ago I met with a group of our college interns as they prepared to head back to school. As an organization that hired over 24,000 campus grads this year, we've seen it all.

Here are five tips I shared with them to keep an eye on the future, but also stay laser focused on the present.

1. Stay vibrant and relevant. You've heard the phrase "the only constant is change" - it's true. Many industries and professions are changing rapidly, and you need to hustle to keep pace. This means being curious beyond the classroom - be well read, seek internships and join professional associations to stay fresh and to give yourself an edge.

2. Look in the mirror. Take some time to reflect on what makes you shine and what things you might want to polish up. Develop an action plan for the next eight months to go from good to great. The habit of looking yourself in the mirror for a good dose of self-reflection will serve you well throughout your career.

3. Do your homework. This is not the time to slack off on your studies. Finish strong. It's also important to do your homework on potential employers and fields. Be well-prepared and informed -- not just about the basics but also trends, what kind of company you want to work for and why you'd be a good fit.

4. Work smart. There is no substitute for hard work - in school and at work. However, you need to work smart so that you are successful in all parts of your life, with time and energy for things that are important to you.

5. Power up your network. This is the single most important job search tool you have. Relationships are everything - in life and work -- so invest time in people.

Make it a great year and finish strong. The investments you make over these next few months will pay off big as you walk across the stage and accept your diploma. Bravo Class of 2017!