To succeed in the new world of work, you have to create your own educational experience. You need to be a lifelong learner, because the skills demanded by the economy are constantly changing, and what you know today might not be relevant even a year from now.
In a new study by my company in partnership with Internships.com, we found that 69 percent of students believe it's both their and their colleges' responsibility to be prepared for the working world.
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Colleges can provide you with resources, but you need to be aggressive and tap into them, even after graduation. You also need to be accountable for your own career and leverage the tools and connections in front of you to secure internships and jobs. Here are five ways to create your own educational experience:
1. Use your college's alumni network. Instead of walking into career services asking for them to review your resume and cover letter, ask them to make alumni introductions for you. These connections are valuable because you can learn about your desired job and have someone who can refer you to that position.
2. Use virtual learning tools. There are many free and paid tools available to you at the click of your mouse. For example, www.udemy.com offers free or low-cost courses on a variety of topics, including social media and product development. The site www.coursera.org offers free courses from more than 30 top colleges, and www.kahnacademy.org has a library of more than 3,000 educational videos.
3. Use the internet to find the right mentors — 43 percent of students are looking for people to mentor them. Your mentors should be those who have a career and lifestyle that you aspire to. You can find them online using sites like LinkedIn and Tellow.
4. Use events and conferences to build relationships. Forty percent of students believe that their reliance on technology has hurt their interpersonal skills, so get out there and meet people in real life. Use www.eventbrite.com and www.conferencealerts.com after class or on weekends to find the right events to attend.
5. Use unpaid internships to get paid ones. About 52 percent of students want better access to internships, and many are receiving unpaid ones. The best way to get a paid internship is by taking an unpaid one, proving yourself and then using the results you've achieved to convince a company to pay you.
Dan Schawbel is the founder of Millennial Branding and the author of "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success." Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.