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Multiple factors come into play when choosing a college major. Your primary challenge is to find a degree program that will qualify you for a career doing the type of work you enjoy.
Another consideration is how much money you can expect to make in your first job. You want to be able to pay off student loans as soon as possible, and begin living the life you envision. Here is a look at the degrees that produce the highest starting salaries for graduates.
It likely comes as no surprise to any college-bound student that degree programs in science and business lead to some of the best-paying jobs. It also is commonly understood that a high salary is not among the rewards of being a teacher or social worker.
Engineering is at the top of the list. Employment in one of this discipline’s myriad specialties featured an average starting salary of $63,000 in 2013. Computer-science majors and business grads were next at $60,000 and $54,000, respectively. Beginning jobs in communications paid $43,000; math and sciences, $42,700; education, $40,000; and humanities and social sciences, $37,000.
Keep mind that these are average figures, with some positions in each field paying more than others. The statistics were compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a nonprofit organization based in Bethlehem, Penn. It connects private companies seeking employees with career-placement offices at universities.
The NACE study, commissioned by The Associated Press, used information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and private sources like the Job Search Intelligence firm. Data was obtained from nearly 90 universities and colleges.
The education and expertise required to be an engineer are not the only reasons that such jobs pay the most money. It is also because of the demand for engineers. Employers continue to report a shortage of qualified applicants for positions in this field.
Of the 10 college majors that lead to the highest salaries, seven involve engineering. Ranking in first place in 2013 were graduates with degrees in petroleum engineering. Their starting pay averaged $96,200. Computer engineers placed second among all graduates, at $70,300. Coming in third were chemical engineering majors, at $66,900.
Students of aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering tied for the fifth-highest starting salaries. They earned an average of $63,900, the same as that paid to mechanical engineering graduates. Next on the list were those who majored in electrical, electronics and communications engineering. They got an average of $62,500. Engineering technology, at $60,900, placed eighth among all professions.
Others on the List
While engineering jobs dominated the list, the study found several other disciplines that paid extremely well. Computer science degrees netted the fourth-best starting pay ($64,100). Finishing ninth and 10th were business management information systems ($60,300) and logistics and materials management ($59,500).
The degrees that led to the lowest-paying starting salaries are those in child and family studies, $29,500; elementary education, $31,600; social work, $31,800; athletic training, $32,800; culinary arts, $35,900; horticulture, $35,000; and theology, $34,700.
Students who graduated in health sciences in 2013 saw the largest spike in pay, making 9.4 percent more than in 2012 to raise the average to $50,000. Business degrees netted about about $54,000, 7.1 percent more than they did the previous year. Salaries for education graduates were up 5.1 percent to about $40,000, while those for computer-science majors rose 4.3 percent to $60,000.
Beginning jobs in engineering professions paid 4 percent more than in 2012. The smallest increase, 1.9 percent, was reported in the humanities and social sciences. Starting salaries for those careers were about $37,000 in 2013.
However, some social-science professionals are in demand. The starting pay for sociologists soared 10.8 percent in 2013. Criminal justice majors earned 8.1 percent more than in the previous year. At the other end of the scale, those with degrees in the arts made 3 percent less, averaging $35,600.
In general, salaries for college graduates are on the rise. NACE reported that those who received bachelor’s degrees in 2013 received an average starting salary of about $45,000, a 5.3 percent increase from the previous year.
However, the study also found that 53.6 percent of 2013 graduates either did not have a job, or were considered underemployed, as of April that year. This demonstrates the value of earning a degree in a field that needs qualified professionals.
Europe may be the second smallest continent on planet Earth, yet it is home to many of the world’s best educational institutions. The leading countries include UK with the highest number of internationally ranked universities among European countries, closely followed by France and Germany. Switzerland and Netherlands are among the rising stars with universities ranked in the Global top 100 and are leading a group of smaller European countries with very strong higher education systems.
With more than 320 top universities in Europe to choose from, stating the top universities in Europe is not easy. You may be looking for a university because you hope to further your education and build a strong foundation for a bright career path. At times, the right institute alone is not enough, as you also need to be comfortable with the cultural setting. We have tried to give each country its due credit so that the cultural surrounding you are hoping to enjoy while studying may be catered.
The following is a list of the top rated universities in Europe. Additional information about the state, the average annual cost of graduate and postgraduate programs and total student population is also given to assist you in making the right decision. For further information about each university or local universities in the country of your station, please visit the institute’s website.
NOTE: All costs refer to annual tuition fees exclusive of registration taxes, cost of living, and other expenses. Tuition fees are subject to changes on a yearly basis.
||Cost of Programs
||Total Student Population
||University of Oxford
||Can range between £4,000 – £42,000, depending on your selected course
||University of Cambridge
||£9,000 for all courses
||Imperial College London
||£9,000 for Home/EU candidates.£24,000 – £35,000 for overseas candidates, depending on selected courses.
||University College London (UCL)
||£9,000 per year for UK and EU students. £15,000 to £30,000 for international students
||ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
||CHF 580 per semester, CHF 1160 per year.
||Free for applicants within the EU/EEA and Switzerland. For other applicants, between SEK 165,000 –SEK 200,000 with 4 installments per year.
||École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
||CHF 633 per semester, 1266 in a year.
||Between € 53.3 + € 3.2 per study point to € 61.9 + € 9.3 per study point
||École Normale Supérieure
||Between €181 – €380
||Subsidized rates for Dutch and Swiss nationals, between € 2.573 – € 16.300. International students are suspect to different rates according to different courses.
||University of Helsinki
||No tuition fees
||Technical University of Denmark
||DKK 102,500 (€ 13,500 )
||Pompeu Fabra University
||€ 2,344 – €4,549 for European students€3,103- €6,068 for international students
Stress, a poor diet, and partying are common to many students’ lifestyles. However, they are not conducive to good health. College-bound students leaving home for the first time are faced with making their own decisions about many things that affect their well-being. Here are some health tips to consider.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
It should come as no surprise that eating right is at the top of the list of healthy behaviors. The adage “you are what you eat” is true. Your physical and mental resiliency depend upon your body receiving adequate nutrition.
Consuming foods with large amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats can compromise your immune system and lead to illness. It also can sap the energy you need to meet all your responsibilities. Your body requires nourishment to deal with the stresses of college life. Eating poorly can lead to obesity, sickness, fatigue, anxiety, and other undesirable conditions.
Most colleges and universities do not allow students to cook food in the dorms. However, you can keep your room stocked with snacks like fruit and nuts. This might help curb the temptation to order pizza or get fast food when you feel hungry.
Make good choices in the school’s cafeteria or dining hall. You have heard it a million times: Eat a balanced diet. That includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Make sure you have something from each food group every day. Ideally, the volume of vegetables in your diet should exceed that of meat.
This does not mean you have to survive on tofu and leafy vegetables, though you might be surprised by what you can do with such ingredients. Inevitably, you will eat some pizza, burgers, and fried bar snacks. These foods are linked to opportunities to make friends and socialize, which are important elements of the college experience. Practice moderation when enjoying junk food.
Be creative and find ways to eat your favorite foods in more healthy ways. Order whole-wheat tortillas and pizza crusts when they are available. Include vegetables in your pizza ingredients. Ask for low-fat white, rather than yellow, cheese; and choose chicken instead of beef or pork. Opt for baked, rather than fried, food.
Breakfast is important. You need an energy boost after many hours of not giving your body any fuel. Eat a bowl of healthy cereal or granola, or at least grab some fruit (and perhaps a whole-grain bagel) on the way out the door.
Drink water frequently, even if you are not thirsty. You may find that you feel better and eat less. Take it easy on the caffeine. While a little of this stimulant can be beneficial, consuming too much is counterproductive and potentially dangerous. The same is true of sodas and other beverages containing large amounts of sugar.
Your body needs a variety of nutrients, so don’t eat exactly the same foods every day. If you are trying to lose weight, be mindful of portion sizes but eat plenty of veggies and get enough protein. Never go on a crash diet. The weight you lose will probably return soon, and in the meantime you will have compromised your health.
There are some other ways to ward off illness, boost energy, and stay in shape. One of the best methods is getting some exercise every day. Walking from your room to classes is not enough. Take longer walks, jog, ride a bicycle, go to a gym, or play a sport.
Between studying and socializing, you may not think you have time to exercise. All it takes is about 20 minutes every day, which is not that hard to fit into your schedule.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Many people do not appreciate the importance of sleep. You need to get at least seven hours of sleep per day. If you don’t, it will be harder to stay alert and focus on your studies.
Sleep deprivation may cause fatigue, headaches, and depression. Your relationships, as well as your grades, could suffer. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, try to take an afternoon nap. Avoid caffeine and sugar for at least a few hours before going to bed.
4. Take Precautions
College classes are in session during the winter, when the most illnesses occur. As a student, you are in close contact with numerous people. It is crucial to protect yourself from viruses and other infectious diseases.
Wash your hands often, especially after touching door knobs and other objects with which many people come in contact. This will keep you from catching most contagions. Get a flu shot, or choose an herbal alternative, to keep yourself from catching a bug. Obtain appropriate vaccinations. Take Vitamin C and antioxidants.
5. Cope with Stress
College life is stressful. Living away from home, dealing with new people, is hard enough. Studying and taking tests create additional anxiety. The college life challenges your mental, as well as physical, health.
Diet, exercise, and sleep are critical to managing stress. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Switch from studying to playing a game or watching a video. Gain some perspective and relax. Spend some time outdoors every day. Find balance by connecting with nature.
Compartmentalize the things that cause you stress. Figure out what you need to do, a step at a time. Set priorities and short-term, attainable goals. Try to transcend the anxiety and look at things logically. Remember that your fellow students are having the same problems. Share your feelings with them, as well as with other friends and family members. Try meditation, yoga, or a hobby. Do not hesitate to speak with a counselor.
6. Avoid Risky Behaviors
Many college-bound students are excited about their new experience for the wrong reasons. They may be looking forward to partying and having sex. They are at an age when experimentation is normal, but it is vital to know how to stay safe.
Parties featuring beer or liquor are common on, or near, most campuses. You are likely to find yourself at such a party. If you are of legal age and choose to drink, know your limit to ensure that you remain aware and in control. Have a designated driver.
Illegal drugs also may be available. The obvious advice is to refrain from taking them. If you do decide to experiment, understand the effects of the drugs and the risks involved. Remember that what you are doing is against the law, and may result in bad decisions and unwanted consequences.
Another part of the college experience is dating. Some students meet their life-long partners in school. It is easier to find people with common interests in college than it was in high school. Students who make the decision to have sex should use protection, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases, and go to doctors for exams and vaccinations.
7. Other Tips
If you smoke tobacco, figure out a way to quit. Your performance in school, as well as your health, may benefit from doing so. Find healthy alternatives to nicotine to provide the stimulation you crave.
Support your feet by wearing good shoes rather than sandals. You are likely to be doing a lot of walking, going to classes and moving around campus. Do not let aching or injured feet slow you down.
Give your back a break by minimizing the weight of your backpack. You don’t have to carry all your books, all the time. Do some stretching before heading out on a long walk or beginning your daily exercise regimen.
Communicate your needs to roommates. Coordinate times for studying and sleeping. Maintaining good relations with your roomies also enhances your mental health.
Resist excessive tanning because of the risk of getting skin cancer. If you do lay out, use sunscreen. Daily applications of aloe vera or other moisturizer help prevent skin from burning or getting too dry.
These tips can help you maintain mental and physical health during your college years. By eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress, you get the most out of the experience. Your relationships and grades will benefit.
The United States of America proves to be an unparalleled student destination with over 4,000 colleges and universities offering unmatched educational experiences along with diverse course options. If you are looking forward to getting admissions in top colleges and universities in the US, here is what you need to do.
Do: Start Early
Ideally, you should begin preparing for your applications in US universities by the time you are through with your 11th year of education. This gives you ample time to prepare your case against the million other applications you are likely to be competing against. Most American universities encourage you to opt for IB exams even though A Levels are not really discouraged. Besides this, you need to have your SAT scores ready by the time you begin with the application process. Plan your activities so your application stands a chance to outshine the competition.
Don’t: Standardize Templates
All American Universities do not follow a standardized template for applications. So try not to do so. You will be applying to each university individually. The best way to go about this is to search for each institute’s application template and then create a specialized one for each. You might be able to make use of the same information in most applications. However, make sure you keep in mind each destination’s codes before finalizing your application forms.
Do: Plan Your Educational Environment
The best part about top undergraduate universities in the US is the fact that each institute offers a unique experience when it comes to lifestyle, expenses, night life, landscapes, population and culture. Make sure you research about your destination university thoroughly. If you’d rather stay away from the city center buzz, there will be a perfect option waiting for you. Invest significant amount of time in planning your educational environment. Also, have at least 2 to 3 contingency plans in case you are unable to get into the preferred university.
Don’t: Miss Out On Campus Day!
This is one day you surely don’t want to miss. It will give you the precise idea about what to expect when you join the university as a student. You will be able to witness the campus life for real. It is usually held during the month of October. Get in touch with the admission office of your preferred university for more details.
Do: Plan Your Expenses
You need to make payments out of the pocket on numerous occasions. For instance, you will need to pay college admission fee at the time of application submission. Once you’ve secured your status, the next biggest thing you need to plan for is the visa. Then on you need to care for your tuition expenses, accommodation expenses, travel costs, costs for educational resources and several miscellaneous expenses you will be incurring on a regular basis. It is a good idea to have a plan beforehand about how you will be funding all these expenses. Apply for scholarships well in advance if you need to.
Don’t: Be a Nerd
Top Colleges and Universities in the US are looking out for humans that will make an interesting addition to the campus. Participate actively in extracurricular activities besides studies. You will need something interesting to connect with your application viewer!
Since there are so many online schools around these days, students have even more options for furthering their education. People who have jobs find online schools appealing as it allows them to keep their jobs without making any major changes. However, this does not mean that choosing between studying on campus or online is an easy choice. When trying to decide between the two, it makes sense to look at the similarities and differences. Your career choice and finances will also play a role in your decision.
This is one of the biggest selling points for online degrees. Many people like the fact that they can generally set their class time for the time most convenient to them. When you are on campus, you do not have this flexibility. If you miss a class online, it is generally easier to catch up as many programs have online forums where class notes are uploaded. Of course, with advances with technology, this is now possible with many campus-based programs as well.
The downside to online learning flexibility however, is that some people end put putting off their classes and assignments for too long. By doing this, some students take much longer to complete their courses. If you are working and your job does not have flexible hours and you are good at time management, then online classes could be the right thing for you. Some people prefer the strict format of campus based learning as it challenges them to work harder. When you do classes online, you will have to motivate yourself.
Details on any course of study are important if you want the best value for your investment. Make comparisons between the course curriculum for both online and campus-based schools. The online program should offer the same or similar subjects as campus-based programs of the same course. If important areas or major differences exist, look at other online schools or select a traditional brick and mortar school.
There is no doubt that most online programs are cheaper than studying on campus. Online schools generally do not charge as much as other universities for the same course of study. Also, you don’t have to worry about expenses like staying on campus or traveling to school. Overall, however, most online students are happy with the fact that they can save money on their education.
Interacting with others
If working with other students face to face is important to you online learning might not be suitable for you. This is one of the drawbacks to studying online. You will only be able to keep in touch with other students and the lecturer by email, web conference or by text. Some students have no problem with this, but others may find it difficult.
Access to technology
For online learning to be successful, you need to have the necessary tools to participate in the classes. If you do not own a computer and have no Internet access, learning online will be difficult. When you attend a campus, some of these challenges are less. You have to think about the expense of getting a good computer and access to the Internet if you want to study online. Alternately, you need to have a reliable alternative such as a library. On the other hand, even if you have to pay a computer and get Internet access, it may be still be cheaper than paying for a campus-based program.
In the past, many online schools had trouble getting accreditation. These days, this is not such a major issue. Most accreditation bodies recognize most online schools. In addition, many online schools are affiliated to or are extensions of established traditional universities. This means you can get a valid degree by studying online, but it makes sense to research the school first. Choosing between online or a campus for your studies is a personal decision. Take the time to explore your options so that you will make the best possible choice.
If you are seeking to enter law school, there are a number of factors to consider. Universities’ tuition rates, admission requirements, student enrollment, and proximity to home are among the issues that you probably want to investigate.
You also should research the academic quality, faculty qualifications, and physical facilities at various law schools. Keep in mind that the reputation of the institution where you get your degree will play a large role in determining your future employment prospects. While this is the case with many professions, it is particularly true in the field of law.
The American Bar Association discourages students from putting too much stock in rankings of law schools. Such lists can be highly subjective. They take into account different factors, and give varying weights to the criteria. However, several ranking schemes have become widely recognized as helpful guides for prospective law students. These lists feature composite scores, based on multiple factors.
U.S. News & World Report
The most frequently cited source of information for law school rankings is U.S. News & World Report. The publication employs a formula that bases 40 percent of a university’s score on its academic reputation, which is determined by soliciting the opinions of judges, lawyers, and law-school deans. Admission requirements and faculty resources also figure in the score. Some authorities have criticized the methodology, alleging that it rewards institutions’ perceived prestige rather than measuring their academic quality.
Yale University placed first in the U.S. News ratings every year from 1990 through the latest report in 2014. Yale’s law school, with 625 full-time students, has some of the most stringent academic requirements for placements. It charged full-time students $54,650 for one year’s tuition and fees in 2014. The previous year, Yale reported that an impressive 90.7 percent of its graduates had secured employment by the time they received their degrees. The school (in New Haven, Conn.) boasts small classes and internationally renowned faculty.
The U.S. News rankings have also featured Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia universities in the top five each year. They finished in that order, in second through fourth place, in 2014. The University of Chicago tied for fourth.
Harvard, last report, had 1,741 law students and a tuition rate of $53,308. The school offers more than 400 courses, seminars, and reading groups. Twenty-five or fewer students are in a majority of the classes. The university’s website proclaims that it provides a “pathbreaking clinical program.” The school is famous for its student-produced publication “The Harvard Law Review,” an academic forum and research tool.
Columbia University’s School of Law in New York City, with an enrollment of 1,248, charges $57,838 in tuition and fees. It has produced nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court, including three chief justices. According to school officials, Columbia’s “traditional strengths” are corporate law and financial regulation, international and comparative law, property, contracts, constitutional law, and administrative law.
California’s Stanford University, which imposes admission criteria nearly as tough as those at Yale, reported 574 law students in 2014. Tuition and fees cost $52,530. A whopping 93.2 percent of Stanford law students had jobs upon graduation. Their average first-year salary of $160,000 was about the same as that of Yale graduates. For public-interest lawyers, the starting pay averaged $62,000 for Stanford alumni and $60,000 for Yale grads. Stanford, which has been teaching law since 1893, offers nearly 200 courses.
The University of Chicago’s law school has 612 students, and charges $53,301 in tuition and fees. It claims to occupy “a unique niche” among U.S. law schools, in that the curricula “blend the study of law with the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.” Historically, 98 percent of the students are employed upon graduation. Seventy-five to 80 percent of them get their first jobs with private law firms.
Also known as the Cooley Rankings, the Brennan Rankings were conceived by a former Michigan Supreme Court justice named Thomas E. Brennan. He was the founder of the Thomas C. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich.
The 50 categories included in his ratings include enrollment, tuition, professor-student ratios, student and faculty diversity, library resources, and graduates’ bar-passage rates. Brennan’s annual report, “Judging the Law Schools,” ranks 179 institutions.
The University of California-Berkeley, founded in 1868, landed at the top of his latest list. Typically, this exclusive law school accepts only 270 of about 7,000 student applicants. Tuition and fees cost $52,474. The institution, which was the first U.S. law school to offer master’s and doctorate degrees in jurisprudence and social policy, recently expanded its faculty by 40 percent without increasing enrollment.
Columbia placed second in Brennan’s latest report. Next was the University of Minnesota, which hosted 221 students and assessed a tuition rate of $47,330 at last report. According to its website, the law school’s research and teaching faculty members include “some of the most accomplished and productive scholars in the world in business law; criminal justice; international law and human rights; and law, science, and technology.” The median score on the Law School Admission Test by accepted students reportedly ranks in the top 10 percent nationally. The university is home to one of the largest libraries in the country.
Brennan listed Harvard third, and awarded New York University the fifth spot. NYU’s School of Law has a tuition rate of $54,678 and accommodates 1,418 students. It offers programs in business, constitutional, criminal, environmental, intellectual property and antitrust, international, labor, and tax law.
Tipping the Scales
Another site that measures law schools, www.TippingTheScales.com, gives weight to the academic prowess of students who are admitted and the employment they obtain following graduation.
Stanford ranked first on this list. Yale and Harvard were second and third, while Columbia finished in fifth place. The University of Pennsylvania’s law school, founded in 1878, ranked fourth. It has 786 law students and a tuition rate of $54,992. Seventy percent of the school’s 51 faculty members hold advanced degrees, in addition to jurisprudence diplomas.
The creators of the Hylton Rankings call their list “U.S. News data without the clutter.” Students’ scores on the Law School Admission test, as well as peer assessment (based on the U.S. News survey), are the key factors used in rating schools. The latest report placed Harvard first, followed by Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.
The website www.top-law-schools.com publishes its own list, which in 2014 featured some familiar universities at the top. In first through fifth place were Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.
Other organizations’ ranking schemes focus on individual factors and do not feature composite scores. For instance, the Leiter Law School Rankings consist of separate lists of institutions with the best LSAT scores, the number of graduates who become Supreme Court clerks, and the number of grads employed by top law firms.
Top Schools in Canada
No law school in Canada has been included in any prominent Top 10 list of such universities worldwide. However, several institutions are widely recognized as excellent schools. The best law school in Canada, according to a survey by QS World University, is the University of Toronto. It ranked 21st in the world. MacLean’s magazine called Toronto the top common-law institution in Canada.
McGill University placed 27th internationally, and second in Canada, on the QS World University list. According to MacLean’s, McGill is the country’s leading civil-law school and has the fourth-best common-law program. In the Times Higher Education rankings, McGill finished second in Canada and 23rd in the world.
The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law at Allard Hall was rated third in the country and 40th in the world on both the QS World University and Times Higher Education lists. MacLean’s judged it to be No. 5 among Canadian law schools.
Turning in a resume that boasts a GPA of 4.0 is something to be proud of, but it’s not enough to make you stand out in a job interview. When you’re ready to start a career, there’s something that matters more: experience.
Nine out of ten employers look for students who completed an internship. Internships lasting at least three months are the most desired. College seniors who interned accepted higher salaries after graduation than those who did not intern prior to graduation. Recent trends show internships are on the rise.
Internships are quickly becoming the new interview. If you secure an internship with an organization, you have taken the first step towards getting a job there. You should consider each day you walk into the office another interview.
A good company recognizes interns as the future. If your skills and attitude meet expectations, and they have already invested time in teaching you about the company, you are likely to fair better in a post-graduate interview than someone who never interned at the company.
Working in a professional environment has its perks, and one of them is free training. You may learn to use a program or earn a certification that others would typically have to pay for in order to add to their resume. Internships allow you to take advantage of free training that you won’t find in your college courses.
The more interviews you complete, the more confidently you can answer interview questions. When an interviewer asks you how you handle certain situations, or inquires about a specific skill set, you have the ability to show how you used certain skills in a professional environment. This speaks volumes for what you are capable of. Experience and confidence are a winning combination.
Connections are important in any industry. If you aren’t offered a job at the company you intern at simply because there aren’t any openings, use the connections you made as references for other employment opportunities. In addition to asking for references, ask your boss if he or she has any connections they might be able to put you in touch with.
Choosing a Career Path
It should be said that internships can also help you determine what you absolutely don’t want to do. You may be thrilled that you were hired as an intern, only to find out a few weeks later that the company or the job just isn’t right for you.
Internships enable you to test the waters before jumping too far in. You may even decide to change your major or try new courses as your interests change and develop.
Interns often get special perks you wouldn’t get at a normal student job. You may be offered a travel opportunity, VIP passes or other free items. While these won’t help your resume, they’re a nice perk. Just be sure you’re on your best behavior when receiving or using them. Remember, your internship is an interview.
Completing an internship provides you with experience that a classroom simply cannot. Take advantage of this stepping stone while you’re in college to open more doors and gain a better understanding of the path you want to take as a graduate.
Do you have a way with words? Is it easy for you to express yourself in writing? Are you a reader who enjoys how words and sentences are structured to communicate ideas? Perhaps you are the sort of student who excels at crafting essays and compositions. If writing is one of your strengths, you may want to consider a career involving those talents.
There are numerous ways to earn a living as a writer. You can go it alone, as an author or freelance writer. Or, you can work for one of the many businesses and organizations that need people who know how to use words effectively.
Becoming a Writer
If you like to read novels, poetry, nonfiction books, articles on websites, and other materials, you are already a student of writing. Being a prolific reader may be the best kind of training. By studying the works of others, you can see how words are used and ideas are organized. You can appreciate how writers create images in readers’ minds through their clever use of the language. You also will learn how writing styles vary among journalists, authors, advertising copywriters, and others.
Some people are able to get writing jobs, or work as freelancers, without having obtained formal education. However, it is common for employers to require at least a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. Graduates of other degree programs also may qualify, and specialize in writing about the subjects with which they are familiar.
More than two-thirds of those who make a living as writers work for themselves. The most glamorous type of self-employment is becoming a published author of books. Penning the “great American novel” is a dream and goal of many writers. However, this is often the culmination, rather than the start, of a writing career. Most people need to obtain significant life experience, as well as training and education in the field, to become published authors.
You can also work independently as a freelance writer. Articles and other content are needed for websites. Print newspapers and magazines pay privately employed writers by the word or piece. This work enables writers to find jobs involving subjects with which they have expertise. Writers sometimes specialize in certain areas of interest.
One of the best ways to gain experience as a writer is to submit stories to local newspapers. These publications often need someone to cover community events or rewrite news releases. You may be able to get a summer job or part-time position.
Newspapers employ full-time and part-time reporters to cover a wide range of news topics. Writers at larger papers specialize in local government, education, sports, and other fields. While some people with only high school diplomas get reporting jobs, a journalism degree is frequently required.
The highest-paid positions in a newsroom are those of editors. To become an editor, you will probably need at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism, as well as years of experience as a reporter. Copy editors are advanced proofreaders who not only correct spelling and grammar, but also make suggestions regarding writing structure and style. Large newspapers have editors in chief, who supervise city editors, news-wire editors, assignment editors, sports editors, and others.
Television and radio stations, as well as online news media, also employ reporters and editors. Like newspapers, they need professionals who are adept at writing advertising copy, as well.
Books, magazines, and websites offer jobs for writers who have proven ability as editors. Copy submitted by writers needs to be proofread, corrected, and sent back for revisions. Other positions in publishing include assistant and associate editors, copywriters, dictionary editors, editorial assistants, promotional assistants, and researchers.
Nonprofit organizations produce magazines, newsletters, news releases, and public-information documents. Large groups’ national headquarters employ teams of writers and editors.
Large businesses need a variety of written materials, internally and for public consumption. They hire writers to create trade magazines, employee manuals, newsletters, news releases, reports, and speeches. Jobs are found in communications, publications, and public relations.
Technical writers are specialists who produce instruction manuals, software documents, and other detailed materials. Advertising departments hire marketing specialists to write promotional copy. Other corporate writing jobs involve greeting cards, scripts for television shows and commercials, and advertising slogans and songs.
Local, state, and federal government entities churn out legislation, reports, and other documents on a regular basis. Government positions also include speech writers, press secretaries, and technical writers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writing jobs employed 129,100 people nationwide in 2012. Their median salary was $55,940 per year, or $26.89 per hour. The pay varies widely, depending upon the type of writing and the employer.
The BLS predicted that the rate of job growth for writers would be just 3 percent (3,800 additional positions) between 2012 and 2022, much less than that of the average occupation. Some types of employment, like print newspapers, are declining. On the other hand, the number of writers needed online is growing. New sites, which require articles and other content, are being created all the time.
If writing is what you do best, there is a multitude of possible careers to explore. Find one that involves subject matter with which you are interested and knowledgeable. Get some experience and education, and read the works of other writers. With persistence, you will be able to find a way to put your writing talents to work.
You may not think of school as a place for networking; but in reality, it’s a gold mine of potential connections. If you manage your time and studies right, these connections have the potential to help you secure your first internship, full-time job or even a future promotion. Cultivate these relationships now and you’ll have the opportunity to help others as well.
Most professors are excited when they see a student is excited. They enjoy seeing someone who has the same passion and they appreciate those who go the extra mile. If you have a class that really interests you, make an appointment to speak with that professor. What else can you learn from them? What was their career path like if they did something before teaching? Can they recommend a career path, a company or an internship to you? A professor can be an incredible mentor. He or she can also be a reference for you when you begin to apply for jobs.
If you attend a smaller school, it can be easier to get to know your advisors. Similar to professors, advisors can serve as mentors. They may be able to recommend classes, internships or a career path based on your interests. They may have connections with alumni as well. If you build a good relationship with your advisor, they can also serve as a reference and speak to your dedication, follow through and ability to work under pressure.
Throughout the school year, there are often opportunities to interact with alumni. Some universities have panel discussions that include alumni and others have more casual events. You may also find that alumni volunteer at the university career center. They may practice interview skills or share information about internship or job openings and career paths at their company. Visit your career center to find out if there are any opportunities to interact with alumni. Ask questions. Learn from them. But most importantly, connect with them and stay in touch. Again, let them know what you’re interested in so that you are the person they think of when they hear of an opening.
Whether you’re ready to look for a job or not, career fairs are a must. Visit the companies that interest you or those in industries that align with your major. Ask the representatives about their career path and what specific skills, classes or characteristics they look for in employees. Collect business cards and ask representatives if they would mind a follow up by email. Write a simple thank you email and then make it a point to check in every 3-6 months. You may eventually be ready to tell them you’ve completed certain classes or acquired certain skills and are interested in finding out if any internship or job positions are available. Connecting in advance shows you really want to be there and you are a determined professional.
Whether your university is large or small, you will be surrounded by students. If you have the time to get involved in a club or group for your major, that is a wonderful way to make mutually beneficial connections. These students will likely be looking for jobs in the same industry as you. They may find a job opening that doesn’t suit them, but pass the opportunity along to you so that you can apply. They may graduate or secure a job before you. If that’s the case, they can notify you about openings at their company. Many companies actually have referral programs.
Good networking is all about thinking outside of the box and the best connections are made when you are genuine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get to know people and express your future goals. You never know where one conversation will lead.
“If you love what you do , you don’t have to work a day in your life”
One of the biggest decisions you will ever make is selecting a career. This choice is likely to determine the college you attend, the degree program you enter, the kind of job you get, and the qualify of life you enjoy in the future.
There are a number of things to consider before committing yourself. You need to understand yourself, research careers that interest you, and take into account the costs and benefits of various professions.
Ask yourself some questions. What do you most enjoy doing? What are your strengths and abilities? What activities interest or inspire you? Are you an extrovert who likes working with people, or would you prefer a more independent job? Do you thrive under pressure, or prefer a low-stress environment?
Think about the high school subjects in which you got your best grades, the extracurricular activities in which you excelled, and hobbies that give you satisfaction. Perhaps you have had a part-time or summer job involving duties you enjoyed. These experiences should paint a fairly clear picture of what you like and the things you do well.
Students have widely varying interests, talents, and personalities. Everyone is not suited for the same types of employment. Take an honest look at yourself, and cross off your list of possible careers those that do not fit you. Ask a high school guidance counselor, teacher, or other adult you trust to rate your strengths and give you feedback on potential occupations.
A number of career-assessment tests and quizzes are available online. They measure your aptitude for various sorts of jobs, and help you identify aspects of your personality that would lend themselves to certain professions. Because your psychology plays a major role in determining what you like and dislike, some of these tests pose probing personal questions. The Career Key, the Myers-Briggs test, and the Strong Interest Inventory are among the career self-assessments you may want to consider taking.
Look up information about jobs that match your interests, skills, and personality. Conduct web searches of words and terms related to the subjects and activities you enjoy. Find out about employment opportunities involving those things, and compile a list of careers that you find intriguing.
Research job descriptions and other information about these careers. Speak with professionals in the fields you are considering, and ask them about the joys and challenges of their jobs. Volunteer or get an internship doing work related to a career that you find interesting. The more you learn, the easier it will be to reduce the number of potential jobs on your list.
3. Costs and Rewards
It should come as no surprise that high-paying professions tend to require substantial investments of time and money. For instance, medical doctors must earn bachelor’s degrees, complete four years of medical school, and then obtain several years of specialized training before they are finally allowed to practice.
You are obviously interested in knowing how much various jobs pay. A lucrative occupation may enable you to pay off your student loans much more quickly. While everyone wants to make a good salary, the amount of money is more important to some people than it is to others. How much does it matter to you?
Keep in mind how much it costs to get the education and training required for a career. Find out which colleges and universities offer degree programs in the field. Are the schools far away, or could you save money by commuting from home?
Do not be discouraged by high tuition rates, at least not until after learning about all the financial-aid opportunities. Scholarships, grants, loans, and other types of assistance are available from the federal government, states, colleges, and private organizations. You may find that your preferred career path is not as expensive as you initially feared.
4. Job Prospects
Another factor is the number of jobs expected to be available in a profession in the future. The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is one of the sources you can consult for such predictions.
Having a degree will not mean much if you can’t find a job in the field. Learn about a career’s trends to get an idea of future job prospects. Try to figure out whether an occupation will continue to provide the salary level you require.
There are many things to keep in mind while going through the process of selecting a career. Do not forget to continually ask yourself, “Is this something I can see myself doing every day for the rest of my life?” No matter how much a job pays, you are not likely to be happy if you don’t like the nature of the work.
Finally, remember that nothing is permanent. You can always change your mind, though it could be costly to do so. Many students change their majors during their college years. Others opt for different professions after they have worked for several years in their degree field.
If you follow all the steps, compile the necessary information, and make wise decisions, you may find yourself with a career that you love.
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