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Not just GPA: How to leverage your college years to benefit your career

Quad+Day+is+a+great+first+start+in+preparing+for+the+post-college+world.+Getting+involved+outside+of+class+shows+that+extra+enthusiasm+to+employers.
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Not just GPA: How to leverage your college years to benefit your career

Quad Day is a great first start in preparing for the post-college world. Getting involved outside of class shows that extra enthusiasm to employers.

Quad Day is a great first start in preparing for the post-college world. Getting involved outside of class shows that extra enthusiasm to employers.

The Daily Illini File Photo

Quad Day is a great first start in preparing for the post-college world. Getting involved outside of class shows that extra enthusiasm to employers.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

Quad Day is a great first start in preparing for the post-college world. Getting involved outside of class shows that extra enthusiasm to employers.

By Elani Kaufman, buzz assistant editor

There is this misconception that in order to succeed, you have to have good grades. And while that may be true, future success is not completely determined by a high GPA. The biggest thing you can do now that will help in the future is networking.

The term “networking” may seem like a business buzzword, but in actuality, it’s an important asset in anyone’s tool belt. You never know who you’ll meet, whether it be a new best friend, a future employer or that person who’ll help you land a job or internship.

The easiest place to start is the simplest one – in class. Making friends in your classes can be one of the best things you can do, both for your grade and beyond. Aside from study groups, friends in your major can help you decide which classes to take, which professors are best and give advice when applying for jobs or internships. Most importantly, they get what you’re going through, because they’re also going through it.

Joining RSOs with interests that align with yours is another great way to increase your network. You will end up meeting people not only with shared interests, but often people you’d never run into because they are not in the same major or college. And if no student group piques your interest, you can start your own. Starting your own RSO not only allows you to meet people with similar interests, it also shows passion for the topic, making the experience more meaningful, not just for you, but on resumes and applications as well.

Similarly, internships or research on campus is another way to network while being able to learn more about the field you want to break into. Not only do you get valuable experience, but the connections made can be invaluable. Meeting people working in a similar field allows you to have connections when job hunting, or for further down the line when looking for post-doc work. The work experience also helps diversify a resume while helping you decide whether or not you like that line of work.

And it’s not just limited to meeting students. Maintaining good relationships with professors can be extremely beneficial. Odds are, whether it be for an internship or for graduate school, you’ll need letters of recommendation. Having a good relationship with a professor will make it much easier, not just for you asking for a recommendation, but for them to write it as well. Say hello to professors when you see them in the hallway or go to office hours, even if it’s just to make an introduction.

If your resume or application boasts a great GPA, but nothing else, that’s an issue. Employers and graduate schools want someone who participates in the community and has interests outside of class. Remember when your high school adviser said colleges look for well-rounded students? That still applies, especially when applying for things post-university.

Passion and ambition are looked at alongside GPA, and can help give that extra push to make you stand out in a sea of numbers.

Elani is a junior in LAS.
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