It can be confusing navigating the professional world when you’re in college. While some schools offer useful resources, like a career services center or a post-grad office, you may still not feel ready to face the professional world and search for a job, while competing with other candidates. You may be struggling to figure out what you’re supposed to do or what’s the best way to appear professional and make yourself more appealing in the job market.
Get involved on campus
Focusing on your classes and grades may seem like enough for you, but in order to really develop your professional skills, you should be involved in various aspects of campus life. Make sure you find time to volunteer and get involved in clubs that relate to your interests and major. Take on some leadership roles, which will look great to future employers. You’ll also have the chance to meet more people on campus and develop your communication skills.
No, not academic research (though that can help further your career as well). Take a look at the people around you and identify those that have lots of connections and are successful in what they do. Find some professors or other professionals who are in your field. Observe these people and try to figure out what they do to professionally enhance themselves.
Learn when to say “no”
No matter what field you go into, it’s important to know when you have too much on your plate and you can’t take more on without overcommitting yourself and causing your overall work to suffer. Instead of constantly saying “yes” and stressing yourself out, your future employer (and people at college) will respect you when you just say “no” instead of taking on too many responsibilities. You’ll also be able to focus more on your mental health and avoid feeling burned out!
Attend professional events
You can attend professional events on campus, or in the surrounding community. Taking this action allows you to network and also improve your communication skills. Attend departmental events on campus for your major as well so you can develop a closer relationship with your professors, who will become valuable mentors and connections.
Develop your personal brand
A relatively recent concept, your personal brand is incredibly important for marketing yourself and relating to other people. On a basic level, it’s what traits people identify you with, but on a professional level, it will be your areas of expertise, your work ethic, and your personal skills. Utilize online resources like LinkedIn and Twitter to focus on specific areas and tailor your brand. Also, make sure there isn’t anything online that reflects poorly on your brand, such as inappropriate pictures from a frat party in college or a negative comment you posted on social media.