By: Amanda Azzarelli

College is flying by, and you know what that means? Graduation is approaching quickly. While you are trying to make the most of your glory years, it is also important to start thinking about where you want to end up after you walk across that stage. Even if the real world feels far away, you can begin preparing for your future right now. Here are the things you should be doing to get ready for the professional world while you are having the time of your life:

Improving your LinkedIn profile. So, you created a LinkedIn profile for a class assignment. You added a profile photo and your basic educational information, and you never logged on again after you emailed the URL to your professor. Simply creating a profile is not enough! Although the site is overlooked by many students, LinkedIn is a great place to start your job search. Complete your profile and continue to build up a strong network to prepare for possible job opportunities.

Gaining internship experience. Whether or not it is a graduation requirement for your program, the skills you learn from an internship are invaluable. Internships give you the chance to take the information you are learning in your classes and apply it to professional situations. According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, over 65 percent of the class of 2014 who completed a paid internship received a job offer before graduating.

Gathering references. Reach out to past employers and professors who have a good sense of your work ethic to ask if you can use them as references. You should have their information on hand, so you aren’t scrambling when a potential employer asks you for one. For more information about selecting quality references, check out this Microbrew post.

Starting a blog. There are many reasons to create your own blog. A blog is the perfect place to showcase your writing skills and establish your authority and expertise. It is also can be used as a networking tool to connect with professionals in your field.

Scheduling informational interviews. If you are interested in learning more about a company but do not know where to go past its website, reach out to a current employee to request an informational interview! Most people are happy to help students, so take advantage of that before you graduate. An informational interview is a good way to gather information and get your foot in the door. You should contact someone who ranks relatively high in the organization to create a prominent connection.

Creating a portfolio. Look through the projects you worked on throughout college and start compiling your best work into a portfolio. You can create a digital portfolio to display on your LinkedIn account or a physical portfolio to bring with you to job interviews. Creating a portfolio is a great way to reflect on your experiences and prepare to speak about them in an interview.

 What are you doing to prepare for graduation?