As you head into senior year, think about where you want to be a year from now. With that vision in your head, what are the steps you need to take to put yourself in that position?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s easy to look back a year from now and pick out all of the things you should’ve been doing. That’s why it’s important to reflect before senior year, especially when it comes to your career. While spending four years with your best friends away from home might be a blast, the last leg of this experience is one of the most important. Now is the time to start thinking about your future (I know – bummer, right?)

As a recent graduate, here are some things I wish I knew before heading into my final year of college:

#1 – Internships matter

As you enter the workforce, one challenge is setting yourself apart from others. When you apply for a job, what’s different about your resume than what the other candidates are bringing to the table? The best way to stand out is through internships! If you haven’t pursued an internship opportunity before senior year, you still have time. Reach out to your career service center on campus to see if they can help you find an internship that matches your interests. Not only will it bulk up your resume, but you’ll develop key relationships that might be useful down the road!

#2 – Don’t compare yourself to others

If you haven’t landed your dream job by senior year or are unsure of a future career path to pursue, don’t panic! When it comes to careers, everyone is different. Some of your classmates may have the exciting sales opportunity in another state, and others may still be switching majors to find what fits. The important thing to do is focus on yourself. What are you doing to set yourself up for future success?

It’s easy to look at classmates and friends who are on different paths and wonder if you made the right career decision. Instead, take senior year to work on yourself and the skills that will lead you to success on the job search. Here are a few questions to start considering:

  • Do you have a solid network to tap into?
  • Have you started working on your resume?
  • Are you starting a routine for reviewing job applications?

#3 – Procrastination isn’t your friend

It’s easy to slack off during senior year of college because it’s the beginning of your “lasts”! While it’s okay to have some fun, it’s also important to stay on track. From turning in homework on time to actively searching for job openings, start early! If you wait until the last minute, you won’t leave room for unexpected errors and complications. Here’s a helpful tip: from day one of senior year, do one small thing a week that will help your professional success in the future. Below are some ideas:

  • Build a relationship with your professors by asking questions and participating in class
  • Compile information about your experience, skills and activities to use on your resume
  • Start a spreadsheet to track job searches and applications
  • Research companies that interest you

Trust me, the little things you do here and there will go a long way (and you’ll appreciate them after your cross that stage with your diploma in hand!)

#4 – Enjoy yourself!

Don’t worry, it’s not all downhill after graduation, but things will change! The new chapter in your life will begin, which is really exciting, but it also means being responsible for a job, handling your own finances and all the fun of just being an adult. Senior year of college is a year where you really get to know yourself. Make sure you’re investing time in your interests and what makes you…you! You never know where there’s moments of self reflection might lead you along your future career path.

Senior year is meant to be fun, so enjoy it! Just don’t forget why you went in the first place. Consider how the tips above may apply to your future aspirations, and get down to business. Anyone else have a tip for those heading into senior year? Let’s hear them in the comments below!