No one wants to spend their career working at a job they hate. It is unrealistic to think that you will love every second of your job, but you should enjoy most days at work. What that looks like for you will depend, everyone has different priorities when it comes to their career and life. Some people want to be well-compensated for their efforts, while others prefer the prestige of working for a particular company. Maybe you want to work in a particular field or industry. No matter what your dream job looks like, don’t expect it to come to you. Leaving the decision up to chance makes it less likely you will find that perfect fit.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Education

The right education helps you find the job of your dreams. Everyone hears stories about people without a degree landing a great job, and it does happen. These people have succeeded despite the odds stacked against them. In reality, a college degree, and the education and connections it provides, is an important step in a successful career. Don’t let college costs stop you from going to school. There are different types of student loans available that cover the cost of tuition as well as living expenses. Private student loans allow you to borrow for school without the cap that comes along with federal loans. This means you can cover education-related costs that you may struggle with, such as transportation and even childcare.

Create a Vision for Your Future

Write out a list of what is important to you in both your career and your life. There is likely to be some overlap. Review the list to see if you are being reasonable. For example, if you want to get married and start having a family soon, and are not seeing anyone seriously, expecting to build a career that requires long hours during the early days will make both goals challenging.

When thinking of the position you hope to hold in the future, think of the steps necessary to get there. Work backward to develop a roadmap to get you where you want to go. Revisit this regularly. Are you still on track? Do you need to modify your plan? An annual assessment of where you are in your career can help prevent you from falling into the trap of staying somewhere because it is convenient, even if it doesn’t further your goals.

Use Internships to Build Relevant Experience

Take the time in college to use all the services available. Let your adviser know you are interested in internships and work to land at least one during school. An internship provides valuable, real-world experience in the industry you are interested in. Some internships expect little more than fetching coffee and making copies, however many come with more responsibility. Regardless of what the internship expects from you, you will get a first-hand look at the day to day life in the industry. Doing a great job on whatever tasks you are assigned often gives your manager the confidence to provide more relevant assignments. Nailing the internship may provide a return offer, which is the offer of a full-time position after graduation.

Craft a Resume that Makes You the Perfect Candidate

When it is time to start applying for jobs, take the time to personalize your resume for the position you want. If you are desperate for work and mass applying, that may be unrealistic. Online job sites have made quick and easy applications too convenient to pass up. However, for those positions that seem like a perfect fit, take a little extra time. Read the job description carefully and tailor your resume to emphasize areas where your skills and the job’s requirements overlap.

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In addition to our education features, we’ll be kicking off a series of stories highlighting how parents, students, and educators are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 on education. If this is important to you, please consider donating to our education reporting fund. https://business.facebook.com/donate/1846323118855149/3262802717172659/