First, realize that my post is not a guarantee. I'm going to share some advice that will help give you the best chance of becoming a pediatric or neonatal nurse, but even doing these things is no guarantee you'll be able to be a pediatric nurse right out of school. You also can still be a peds nurse without doing all of these things. It's a tough market right now and many facilities require experience.
1. Choose a nursing school that has an affiliation with a children's hospital- or at least a hospital with a good pediatrics program. A BSN program will give you the best shot.
2. Do well in your program- try to be in the top 5% or 10%. Do especially well in your Pediatrics and Maternal and Newborn clinicals.
3. Become close with your pediatrics clinical instructor and lecture instructor. They often have connections in hospitals. After your clinicals, ask your lecture and clinical instructor to write you letters of recommendation. Don't wait until you are applying for jobs, because you won't be fresh in their minds. You'll get your best letters right after the clinical.
4. During your clinicals, get to know the charge nurse or nurse manager on the floors. Let them know about your interest in working in pediatrics.
5. During school, or even nursing school, try to get a job working in pediatrics. A hospital is preferable, maybe as a patient care technician or a CNA. This will get you some peds experience and help you network in a hospital.
6. If your school has a partnership or capstone clinical, try to do it in pediatrics if possible. Any large projects or papers that you have to complete should focus on pediatrics or newborns as well.
7. Your senior year, contact a hospital where you would like to work and ask to do some shadowing as an RN. shadowing will help you make connections on the floor and show that you are interested.
8. Start applying early- two to three months before you graduate (depending on the regulations of your facility). Ask those people that you made connections with if they will put in a good word for you and/or be references on your application.
9. Plan to take your boards as soon as possible. The sooner you can start as an RN, the more appealing you will be as a candidate.
10. Be flexible and willing to accept another job. You might not get into peds right away, so be willing to work in another area for a year or so and then transfer in.
Finally, keep your options open. You might decide, after nursing school, that you really like another specialty and you aren't so interested in peds. You can adapt this advice toward whatever specialty you want.