[Check out other schools with notable writing programs.]
2. Look for real-world work opportunities: Internships or cooperative education programs – which typically alternate periods of professional experience, often salaried, with class time in a five-year curriculum – can give new grads a leg up in the job search.
Among class of 2013 graduates, those who boasted an internship were more likely to land a job, according to NACE. Sixty-three percent of paid interns received at least one job offer, while 37 percent of unpaid interns did. That compares to 35 percent of graduates with no internship experience who got a job offer.
"I know that prior work experience gave me an upper hand," says recent Drake University graduate Katie Minnick, "just in the fact that I had real-world experience and prior interview experience." Minnick credits an internship and subsequent paid apprenticeship with magazine publisher Meredith Corp. for her success at landing a postgraduation job with health care information technology giant Cerner Corp.
Many colleges now facilitate internships. American University's School of Communication sponsors internships with media organizations in the nation's capital, for example, and Miami Dade College has students interning with Florida Power & Light, Baptist Health of South Florida and other local employers.
Meanwhile, interest in co-op education has jumped since the job market slumped; co-op powerhouse Northeastern University, for example, received 47,359 applications for 2,800 freshmen seats this fall, 74 percent more than in 2006.
"Northeastern's emphasis on experiential learning and the co-op was the big draw," says Taylor Hogan, who left in July for his first six-month co-op with Heart Capital, a social investment firm in Cape Town, South Africa. The co-op gives Hogan on-the-ground experience in urban agriculture and social entrepreneurship, his two keenest interests.
[See other schools with stellar examples of internships or co-ops.]
Worcester Polytechnic Institute requires two projects that are supposed to solve real problems or address real needs. For example, 2013 civil engineering graduate Marco Villar teamed up with classmates to develop cheap, sustainable paper insulation for housing in impoverished communities in Namibia that could also create jobs.
Finally, just as technical majors may want to take writing or public speaking courses, humanities and other non-techie students should consider adding some computer science expertise to their list of credentials.