5 Things to Do Before Getting a Full-Time Job

College—it makes up some of the best years of your life. But what happens after graduation? When it comes to getting a full-time job, there are some things that you should keep in mind. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five things you should do before entering the workforce full time. Whether you’re looking for a full-time job and haven't had any luck or you want some things to do before really entering the real world, these tips will definitely help.

1. Get an internship (or multiple!)

After graduating, you'll be able to focus on becoming more skilled in the field you are interested in—without stressing about midterms! That’s why it's not bad to do an internship or two first, especially if you haven't already. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door, and you can look for internships in your area or even remote ones. Look for internships and fellowships while you are in college (and even after you graduate) in the career field that you hope to get a full-time job in. While most internships are unpaid, they will definitely give you the experience and skills you need before taking on a full-time job in the industry.

“I was careful to get involved in ways that made sense for my career,” says Alaina Leary, a first year graduate student at Emerson College. “I did a lot of freelance writing in addition to semester-long internships to gain publication credits and experience. I'm still in grad school, and not in the full-time job world yet, and writing for Her Campus is one way that I'm bolstering my resume and adding clips to my portfolio, along with editing and writing for several other print and online magazines.”

Like Alaina, Andrew Hindes, president of The In-House Writer, advises college students to focus on getting internships and fellowships in or related to their field well before they graduate. “I have seen that be the most successful recipe for getting a job when you get out, if you already have work experience,” Hindes says. “Especially if you apply for a company that you have already worked for, you are already ahead of the game.”

2. Do some freelance writing

Freelance writing is a fantastic way to build up your portfolio. First of all, you’re getting published (which is totally awesome, might we add). Depending on the publication, you could also be making some money freelance writing while simultaneously looking for a full-time job. Some freelance writers create their own rates, while others follow the rates of the publication they’re writing for. 

Kristen Kraemer, who graduated from Rutgers University in 2010, freelanced while looking for a full-time position. She says she found a lot of opportunities to freelance through word of mouth and on ed2010, a website that posts job and internship opportunities for college graduates and current college students interested in the publishing industry. “I think it’s a great way to build up your resume and get clips to show future employers no matter what career you’re going into,” says Kristen. “Being a freelance writer teaches you things like time management, self-motivation and determination (if you’re working from home, you need to have razor focus to make sure you’re completing tasks on time).”

Check out websites such as ed2010, Freelance Writing Gigs and Elance for freelance job listings.

Related: Contract Work: What You Need to Know Before You Take the Job

3. Volunteer

Volunteering is more than just a resume builder. It is also a character builder! Volunteering on your college campus and in your community will not only make you feel empowered, it will make others feel good as well.

Alaina says she volunteered while in college and after graduating in a number of ways. “I was involved with MassPIRG and Rock the Vote, getting people registered for the 2012 election,” Alaina says. “I helped out with writing for Habitat for Humanity and Hope for Limpopo, two charities with local chapters near my college. I also volunteered for the Great American Condom Campaign, handing out 500 free Trojan condoms on campus every semester, and educating college students about safe and consensual sex! We held events like sex toy bingo and safe sex quizzes, with prizes.” 

Kristen also notes that volunteering goes a long way in the eyes of an employer. “As far as volunteering goes, I’m very much attached to the community I grew up in,” Kristen says. “When Hurricane Sandy hit, I helped sort clothing donations for our community. When a friend’s father was going through cancer treatments, I helped out during a fundraiser my town had.”

Want to volunteer but don’t know where to start? Check out your county’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity or The Humane Society to volunteer locally, or visit the Global Brigades website for international volunteer opportunities.

4. Start a blog

One of the best creative outlets is blogging. There are many websites that offer opportunities to start your own blog absolutely free! This is a great way to self-publish, and it allows you to write about exactly what you are interested in.

“Find your niche, figure out who you want to write for (besides yourself), and how to come across just right,” Joy Johnson, the lifestyle blogger behind For the Love of Tuna, recommends. “Becoming a good writer doesn't just happen and you'll come across drafts and drafts of the same post that [don't] sound right, until finally you find the perfect words and a thousand other people agree. Don't be afraid to reach out to bloggers, because really, bloggers are awesome and super nice. All the best to you, newbies!”

5. Learn a new skill

After graduating, you will probably have some time on your hands before you start working full time. So, what better way to spend your time than learning something new? Acquiring a new skill will not only boost your potential and add another item to your resume, but it will also benefit you in the long run. Ever wanted to learn a new language or how to code? Now is the best time to do it!

Coding is considered to be the language of the future, and it is not as difficult to learn as you might think. It doesn’t take a computer scientist to learn to code, and you can learn the basics for free right from your own home. Websites like Code.org offer games, lessons and resources for you to learn how to code. Plus, Karlie Kloss endorses it, so what’s not to love?  

These new skills may become of particular interest to you, which, according to Chad Troutwine, co-founder of Veritas Prep, is something that employers love. “It may surprise people, but I pay close attention to the line at the bottom with personal interests,” Troutwine says. “It may not be enough to get someone hired, but fascinating hobbies can help secure an interview.”

Maybe you are looking for some resume boosters while you’re on the job hunt or you’re putting off being a full-time grown-up, but either way, these tips will help you along the way.