By Mackinna HartGetting a job after college can be a catch-22. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. So what are you supposed to do? Play the student card. Being a student can be one of the best tools for making connections and setting yourself up for getting the job you want after you graduate. Here’s how to take advantage of being a student to get your first “real” job after college. 1. Make friends with the campus career center This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised by how much your school can help you make professional connections. There’s often a whole office dedicated to job placement. But why wait until after you’ve graduated to go there? They’ve got a whole list of people you should be introducing yourself to. And there’s an entire alumni network just waiting to hear from you. Also, be on the lookout for seminars on resume writing or interview prep. You can never be too prepared, and you should take advantage of these resources while they’re free and nearby. 2. Start networking in college Employers prefer to hire people they know or have been referred to, so nothing is more important than getting to know people in your industry. It can seem intimidating to approach a vice president, CEO, or manager when you don’t feel like you have much to offer. But here’s the secret: People love to talk about themselves and the work that they’re passionate about. This is where you have the advantage. As a student who’s interested in their field, you can ask them for just fifteen minutes of their time to learn about what they do and how they got there. Now, you may not always be able to get coffee with the CEO of Apple or Facebook, but getting to know anyone at a company you’re interested in is a great way to learn about their business, practice your networking skills, and begin establishing connections. 3. Def do internships Getting an internship is one of the best ways to get professional experience. Even though you may not get a full salary, many companies are looking for students to intern in exchange for experience and school credit. You get to see what it’s really like to work in an industry you’re interested in while building your resume, networking with professionals, and getting your foot in the door, which may help land you your first job. 4. Join a young professional group Another way to take advantage of being a student is to get involved in a young professional group in your area. These are groups of students and recent graduates who meet to talk about careers they’re interested in or currently working in. This can be a great place to meet potential mentors, other students who are in the same boat as you, and to start building your network so that you’ll have plenty of connections once you graduate. So, take some risks, work hard, and learn as much as you can. Never let being a student keep you from going after your dreams, because it can be one of your biggest assets. Animations courtesy of Giphy. About the author Mackinna is currently a student at Belmont University studying music business. She is also a firm believer that a spoonful of Nutella can solve any problem! She loves to write and be creative whether that be via songs, articles, or poetry.