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Maximizing your final college semester

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And then there was one — one final semester standing between you and becoming a lifer! It seems like only yesterday you were a nervous freshman walking across campus wondering what this experience would bring. Your family and friends gave you the predictable advice: “Soak it in and enjoy the time! Graduation will be here before you know it!” And though you may hate to admit it, they were absolutely right.

While the temptation may be great to take your foot off the gas pedal and coast into commencement, I recommend taking an alternate approach to maximize your final semester.

Finish strong and do your job

Over my years as an accounting professor, I’ve overheard numerous students in their final semester make comments such as, “I’ve worked so hard all these years studying, getting good grades, doing an internship and ultimately earning a great full-time job offer. Who cares if I get a C in my business capstone course? Nobody’s ever going to ask me what grade I got. I deserve to kick back and relax my final semester.”

Here’s a newsflash: Grades do matter. If you read the fine print of your full-time job offer, you’ll see that it is contingent on the successful completion of your coursework and fulfillment of degree requirements.

Look back

As graduation approaches, it’s a great time to solidify past relationships with faculty and peers at your institution. Make it a goal to set up a few coffee/lunch/dinner dates over the course of the semester with folks who have played a special role in shaping your college experience. Use the occasion to thank them for the guidance and mentorship they provided and to communicate your short- and long-term plans. You never know where life will take you or whom you might need to turn to in the future for a job reference, career advice or simply someone to talk to. Cultivating your past connections is a smart idea.

Look ahead

In a few short months, you will be waking up each morning and reporting to work, that dreaded four-letter word. During your final semester, I strongly recommend reaching out to some of the professionals you met during your internship or recruiting process and reintroducing yourself. If logistics don’t allow this to be done in person, see if you can set up a Skype or FaceTime call. Use the time to ask questions such as:

  • "How has your specific career path unfolded thus far?"
  • "What was the most difficult aspect of your transition from college to work?"
  • "What’s the 'state of the office' (i.e., new clients, new service lines, etc.)?"
  • "What specific advice do you have so that I can set myself up to succeed?"

You’ve chosen an amazing profession with an unlimited array of career opportunities. Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!

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