You know how to be a student, but you can easily transition into a professional by using your time wisely. First, explore the pre-professional societies on campus to decide what ones are best for you. Most welcome freshmen and sophomores, who will later lead the organization as upperclassmen. These are good groups to join because they have links to off-campus professional organizations, where you can network with leaders in the field.
Your campus will host many interesting speakers over the next four years. Even if you think that you’re too busy to attend, try to make the time. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about the professional world even if it’s not your own area of interest. Since many such events have a reception afterwards, you may be able to meet the speakers and get business cards for future reference.
The career center will host many workshops, which will help you learn proper professional behaviors, including dress codes, so make sure you go to as many as possible. And attend the job fairs on campus, even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, so you can become familiar with various companies and absorb the professional environment.
Some schools have mentor programs, where you’re matched with a professional, who will guide and advise during your academic career. Other schools have mentor programs that pair freshmen or sophomores with upperclassmen to help navigate campus life and beyond.
You can always squeeze in some reading after you finish your class assignments. Select a few publications, such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, and read the hard copy or online. Spend 30 minutes a week in the library, browsing through professional publications or journals and absorbing the news of the business world. Soon, you’ll be successfully combining your student and pre-professional roles.