Career Advice for High School and College Students

It's never too early to start thinking about your career - and to start managing life decisions that could impact your future. Here are several key thoughts to consider for my friends in high school and college! Decisions in High School and College Directly Correlate to Success in Interviews and Your First Job:  I learned many lessons during my five years in college at Georgia Tech and my years leading up to college. Some had been shared with me prior to my arrival. Most, I figured out on my own. Many, I did not recognize or appreciate until I had graduated. Moved on. Joined the working world. And looked back. High school and college, unlike many other places, are places where we make decisions early in life that we manage for the rest of our lives. Your decisions in high school and college directly impact not only your first few years out of college, but also relationships and your career long-term. Consider them carefully.

Study and Make Grades:  There is a system. Every school has one. Take time to figure it out. Learn which teachers and professors are the ones that are willing to provide additional time, coaching and advice. Learn how to get extra help outside of class. Go to study sessions. Listen and take notes. Read the book(s). Leverage the knowledge from others that have already completed the class. Get into a routine. Make scholarship a priority. Why make grades? Simple. Colleges typically have GPA minimums / requirements for high school students. Companies have thresholds at which they draw the line for interviews. For example, some of the top strategy consulting firms interview only individuals that have a 3.8 or better. You may not agree with this filtering policy but it's really not your call. It's life.  GPA, undergraduate activities, work experience, ability to learn, and leadership skills are the core measurement areas employers are looking to evaluate when interviewing undergraduate candidates. 

Get Involved:  Step out of your comfort zone. Leave the X-Box. Turn off the TV. There are many different activities and sports with which to get involved in high school. Colleges are full of campus organizations. Clubs. Fraternities. Sororities. Political groups. Sports teams. Study abroad programs. Honor societies. You name it, it exists on campus. Just as in life, your experiences and relationships build on one another. The experiences I had as part of the first few organizations helped me to better choose and get into other organizations. Leadership roles were presented to me. I had the opportunity to meet very diverse people from all walks of life. Yet all had some common interests. Some of the people I met in high school and college are still my friends today.

Build a Resume:  Whether in high school or college, it is a good idea to get your resume started early. This is important as it will serve as a framework for tracking accomplishments while allowing you to see where you have a gap in education, experience or extracurricular / philanthropic activities. By establishing a resume early in life, you will be ahead of the game from a career management perspective - you will be prepared to share the resume when considering internships, part-time jobs, co-op positions or even full-time roles while you are in school. Never hurts to be prepared - especially in a competitive job market!