i must compliment you for thinking ahead, as you are going to want an edge two years from right now when you are searching for your first nursing job. i am a second career new nurse grad (graduated 3 months ago w/my bsn for a local university outside chicago) who just landed her first nursing job a week ago today and is still watching many of her classmates suffer each day. while my search only lasted five weeks, which i attribute in part to my age and experience, it was the five most frustrating and disheartening weeks of my nursing journey. let me share with you what i would do differently (especially if i were 22 and competing with the other 99% of 22 year old graduates) to gain the best advantage once i graduated.
1. become a cna (and if possible, do it at the hospital you want to work at once you graduate). a lot of people will dismiss this, but the very first people hired in my class were cna's already, and most of them had a job prior to graduation. not to mention how it will help you become comfortable in the hospital setting and pick up knowledge just by being there.
2. be very very nice to your instructors; all of them. nursing is a very small world and you not only want these professors (and clinical instructors) to write you letters of recommendation when you graduate, but some of them may have connections that could help you greatly. one of my classmates buddied up to an instructor, who wrote her an amazing letter of recommendation for a scholarship. can you say 10k off your tuition? or maybe one of them has a best friend who hires at the hospital you would kill to work at.
3. get good grades. with good grades and instructor recommendations, you may be able to get accepted to a student nurse extern position between your junior and senior years. there's a bunch of them across the country (such as mayo clinic's which is called summer iii program) that you can apply to, which you would start looking at/applying to around christmas of your junior year. with good grades you can also get accepted into new nurse graduate programs after graduation.
4. be involved with the national student nurses association (if on your campus) and any other service organization (first and foremost being any nursing related organization) and when i say be involved, don't be just become a member, run for office.
5. when at clinical, make connections and go out of your way to shine above everyone else. this will also help you get to do skills that you may have missed. if your nurse has a patient you are not assigned to, but they need a foley, and they like you, they may come find you to have you do it.
well, i think those are the biggies i would highly recommend doing, so that you stand out after graduation. in more general terms of just being a sucessful student, make sure you read the assignments at least once. i know it seems like a given, but the vast majority of my classmates didn't read and struggled because of it. also at clinicals, show up early, show up prepared, and be active. help the cna's, help your classmates, whatever the job.
best of luck to you! work hard and reach for the stars.