There is a lot that has changed since the 1970’s, when financial planners had two choices. It used to be that you could either become an insurance agent or a stockbroker. However, times have changed. Now there are more choices than ever before when it comes to  what type of career you can build in the finance industry. However, having more options also means being expected to have broader knowledge in an extremely competitive field.

If you are just beginning an education in finance then the sooner you start planning and preparing, the better.

Here are a few tips for anyone looking for advice on how to prepare for a financial career.

Choose the Right Major
It sounds simple, but depending on the university there are different programs, offering different information. Traditional financial-planning will only cover topics that are directly relevant to the CFP Board exam, such as taxes, insurance, and investments.  Personal financial-planning programs offer a more broad spectrum of topics. These subjects include the dynamics of finance within families, the psychology of retirement, and consumer rights. The kind of information a personal financial-planning major will gain makes a huge difference. Having the ability to deal with clients while having an understanding of the psychology behind investing and finance is something truly invaluable.

Seek Experience
As soon as you’ve settled on your major in finance begin looking for opportunities to learn and gain experience. Internships and “real-world” experiences will be important when it’s time for you to begin sending out resumes to prospective employers.

Students majoring in financial  planning often find working at a bank is beneficial. It’s a job that can be flexible with an academic schedule and the pay is better than many other part-time jobs. It will give you practical work experience and help you to meet possible mentors.

Internships are obviously a great idea for any student. If you have the chance to work at a smaller company, take it! Interns at large firms often find themselves in administrative support roles, while working for a smaller firm can provide you with a more hands on experience.

Lastly, any student majoring in finance should consider preparing income tax returns. It’s a great way to make money on the side and it will provide you with experience interacting with clients in the financial industry. Plus, it can help to be refreshed on basic tax information before the CFP Board exam.

Use your Resources
If you’ve completed an internship with a local company than hopefully you have an advantage over others in the job-selection process. However, there are many great resources online for graduates to increase their exposure to the financial community.

Financial planning jobs are expected to grow significantly over the next ten years. Every city has a local chapter of a financial planning organization, so join one nearby and begin networking as soon as possible. 

There are many things to do before graduation that will improve your marketability. The key is success is persistence.

This article was originally published on Blackwell’s website.