It’s almost time for first semester to begin! Whether you’re a first year or a graduating senior, you can definitely benefit from reading this post and implementing the following suggestions. When I attended college, I hit the ground running. It was my goal to learn as much as I could and look great on paper to potential employers. The month before I graduated, I managed to land an amazing and super competitive internship working for a member of the House of Representatives! While interning, I figured out exactly what area of marketing and communications that I wanted to pursue and I landed my dream job in higher education just two months after I graduated.
This wasn’t just any job you guys. Most people start out as an assistant or coordinator (titles don’t always represent the role, just fyi). My new position was one with a lot of freedom and responsibility that typically those who have worked in the field for 4 or more years would obtain. So how did I manage to get to that point, and how can you get there too?
- Ask for opportunities. More often than not, your advisor can point you in the right direction when it comes to getting opportunities that will help you gain valuable experiences. I knocked on my advisor’s door on day one and told him I want to gain some PR experience. From that conversation, he gave me the chance to work on his PR campaign called @escthemachine (you can find it on social media). He also has a book out called Technomoderation which describes the rise of his brand and campaign. Imagine the experience I had working with a brand that visible! Asking for opportunities shows initiative, which leads me to my next tip.
- Take various related courses. If you’re a communications major, take some business classes or better yet minor in business. My concentration in college was integrated marketing communications. It greatly benefitted me in my internships and landing my big girl job. Have a diverse plate that looks great. You can really thrive as a marketing major or communications major if you take graphic design courses, journalism classes, and business courses. In the communications world, the more you know the more valuable you are as a marketer or communications professional.
- Go the extra mile in the classroom. Take class seriously. Read the materials and always contribute something meaningful to the discussion. It shows your professors that you care and that you are taking the initiative to learn as much as you can about your future field. Your professors can serve as recommenders and future connections if you establish a good relationship with them and show them that you’re a star student.
- Focus on yourself. Your classmates are your competition for now, but chances are you won’t be concerned with them in your career. With that being said, find ways that help you stand out in the world of job applications, not within your school or department. I strongly suggest finding organizations and activities that make you better in the long run. Rather than writing for my paper, I wrote for the university’s publication which is ran by the office of communications. Do you see the advantage in that? What can your classmates truly do for you? Nothing at this point. Keep certain classmates as connections, but remember that your real competition is out in the world. Not at your university. You can’t win the race by looking at what your classmates are doing. You have to build your own path and focus on the larger goal ahead, which is employment in your dream job and preferred position!
I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they were to me. I can’t stress enough the importance of making the most of your college years. I’ll leave you with this, there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. Happy climbing, and good luck during the upcoming academic year!
For more posts on how to succeed in college, check out the Career Advice and Networking categories, and be on the look out for my upcoming e-book guide for college students and recent grads.