Very often when we speak to college students the topic of what their goals are post graduation comes up. The responses are mixed but two schools of thought pose reoccurring roles – some students want to get into their dream career immediately and others are just hoping to get any job they can. I know this because of experience. When I graduated from Western International University in 2003 you can bet that all of my family members were wondering what my plans were for my career. As far as goals are concerned both of these are surprisingly not as ambitious as they should be and we’ll tell you why. The job market, regardless of the specific industry or field, is highly competitive and if you want to become a viable candidate, it is simply not enough to hope or expect that employment will fall into your lap. Being proactive comprises several key steps and one of them is building your personal brand while you’re still in college.
Think of yourself as a product or a service. If you go to market without significant branding behaviors prior to, you run the very plausible risk of being unseen, unused and undermined. Much like a product or service in a store or online, you have to take charge of your public image, your credentials, interests and associations in order to turn yourself into a strong brand. This will help you get the job you want with the organizations you want and more importantly, it will be a big part of developing the longevity of your career. There are many colleges and universities that offer multifaceted programs to help develop their students holistically and not just academically. Use the facilities your school provides to begin branding yourself positively. Here are a few other tips that you can use to begin building your brand before you graduate:
Create your own personal website
The internet is a valuable tool for networking and as this pertains to branding, it should be your natural choice to begin your self-promotion efforts. A personal website acts like a base for all your online operations and it will be the front of your brand. Make sure that the aesthetic of your site is professional, user-friendly and easily informative. With your own website you will be able to put links on business cards, email signatures and even other online social networks.
Bonus Tip: Not tech savvy enough to get your own site built? No problem. Sign up for a blog site at WordPress.com. They make it super easy to get your site built and for you to start publishing, and it’s all free! No need for programmers.
Clean up your existing social networks
There is much fun to be had in your youth and you may very well want to immortalize these moments in pictures and words that you upload to your accounts. Once you begin the process of branding it should behoove you to tidy things up a bit. Any unflattering comments, pictures, notes or statuses should either be put on limited view or erased altogether. Remember you WANT people to look for and at you; be certain that they will be impressed with what they find.
Bonus Tip: Create and start being active in LinkedIN right away. This is the Facebook of your career! Use it wisely though, submit a professional picture and fill out as many details as possible. Also connect with as many people as you can. Try getting in touch with local or national recruiters.
Use your university’s clubs and associations to network and put yourself out therein real time.
You don’t have to join every club but strategic alignment with the organizations and clubs that mirror your career and social interests is one of the best things you can do to develop you brand.
We hope that our tips will help inspire you to begin branding while you’re still in college. It is never too early to start developing a professional profile and portfolio that will help usher you successful into the career of your dreams.