It’s that time of year again, when parents and students are preparing for a new academic year. This is the perfect time to develop a mindset for career success, starting with your reputation on campus and in internships, leading to the moment you land that ideal job after graduation. It all begins before you set foot on campus. Here’s the easy prep guide for college students.
Set goals. You aren’t going to be able to do everything, and you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself from the start. Set realistic goals that are achievable but challenging, spurring growth. Visualize the differences you want to see in yourself by the end of the semester. What do you want to learn? What skills do you want to strengthen? Where do you want to expend your effort? What’s your ultimate goal? Answer these questions and stay focused by frequently reminding yourself of your goals.
Prepare for stress. As Stress Coach Jordan Friedman explains in this video, going off to university can be extremely stressful. Develop a plan to manage and minimize stress. Friedman provides a quick stress relief technique — and it’s particularly popular with students. Use it before exams, when you are feeling homesick or when you just want to get focused.
Build your brand. Finding your ideal job upon graduation starts on day 1 when you begin school. Think about the activities you pursue, class projects you undertake, social causes for which you volunteer and the many other roles you take on. How do you deliver value to those around you? Align your choices with what you want to be known for, and with your ultimate first-job goal. These are important steps to building your personal brand.
Get your digital house in order. Let’s face it. People are using Google to learn about you. In this new world where many first impressions are formed online, you need to make sure the virtual you is congruent with the real you. Here’s the four-step process to make sure your digital brand will work for you and not against you:
- Egosurf (Google yourself). Find out how you show up online. Check your profiles at your preferred social media. Take time to sweep away the digital dirt — content that muddies up what you want people to know about you. Start your college experience with a clean, authentic virtual picture of you.
- Determine how you want to connect as you build your professional network. Will you send Facebook friend requests, LinkedIn connection requests, or follow them on Twitter? Something else? Your classmates, university friends, professors, guest speakers, and career-services staff will all become valuable networking contacts throughout your entire career. Get in the habit of virtually connecting — and staying connected with them.
- Build professional content. If you are a freshman, an online search of you likely turns up mostly personal information with little professional content. You want to get a head start with professional information that will be attractive as you seek internships as well as volunteer opportunities on campus. The best place to start is with LinkedIn. Build your LinkedIn profile baseline with a professional headshot, and a compelling headline and summary. Then it’s easy to add to it as you get more experience. And remember to use your college projects (presentations, reports, mock marketing campaigns, etc.) as content for your profile. Think of your profile as a repository of all your successes, and update it regularly.
- Make a plan. The best way to keep your content up-to-date is to regularly engage. Egosurf at least every other month and commit to modifying your online profiles regularly so your online ID is both accurate and compelling to people who are making decisions about you.
Have fun! Fun is an important part of school and an important part of the learning process. Choosing a major should be an expression of your idea of fun, delivering activities that continually amplify your personal brand. In addition, we learn more and better when we inject play into the equation. In fact, in a recent Washington Post article, educational leadership expert Sean Slade reminds us that “brain research suggests that fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory.” If you think of college as grueling and stressful and put too much pressure on yourself, you could actually undermine your success. What’s more, discovering how to enjoy college is great preparation for finding joy in the world of work — and that’s the ultimate definition of career success.
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This article was written by William Arruda from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.