You realize you're getting old when you see kids outside during school hours in the summer and wonder, "Why aren't they in school?" Yes, I forgot that summer breaks exist. My first 'summerless' summer has officially passed by and I'm finally getting used to saying that I'm a college grad on the grind 9 to 5. I'm going to let you in on a few things every college grad should have before you toss that cap and officially begin 'adulting'.
1. A LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn may not have that fun Snapchat or Twitter appeal, but this is the social app that gives back. Investing in a profile will help you network, which definitely comes in handy when you're trying to land that first full-time job. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your public resume that keeps track of all your accomplishments throughout college as well as your career. LinkedIn is getting more useful by the day- they recently added features that help you in your job or internship search. Your LinkedIn profile isn't going to grow overnight though. It takes some time to build connections to professors, peers, and alumni and really begin to make LinkedIn useful- that's why the sooner you have one, the better. But keep your eyes on the prize- once you hit 500+ connections, you're gold!
2. A Personal Brand AKA a Website and/or Portfolio
If you're experiencing any trouble at all landing a job out of college or even an internship during college, it's time to make a website! In the digital age that we're in, I consider this a grad must-have for most fields. Sure, 10 years ago only celebs had websites, but now a well designed website might be that one factor that makes you stand out from a sea of applicants. My website started off just as a blog then evolved into helping my photography business, and now is mostly used as my professional portfolio. Physical portfolios are a thing of the past (sorry Professor Barnes), although it may be nice to take in a few hard copies of your work, your online portfolio is what will get you in the door in the first place.
Starting a website or portfolio may sound intimidating at first but website builders like Wix and Squarespace can make it as simple as applying a template and typing in your information. Get your own logo and then you're good to go land that job!
3. Clean Social Media Pages
Now this, this is a no brainer- and yet.... so many people post things I wouldn't dream of showing on my profile. If you don't land a job you felt very confident in, you might want to reevaluate your social media content. If you just have to post or share not-so-appropriate content on your social pages, take those accounts from 'public' to 'private'. Your social media pages are a reflection of your every-day-life and a major component of personal branding- especially if your pages are public. Now I will note that some posts may permissible in some fields more than others, like alcohol for instance, just be mindful and be classy. Better safe than sorry.
4. A Career Wardrobe
I believe in this so much (especially for internships) that I wrote a blog post about the topic that's a useful read. The saying, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." rings so true! First impressions are everything so don't go casual to that internship you landed. Your soiority attire may be cute and comfy, but it won't get you far in your career. Presenting yourself professionally starts with your wardrobe, which is why it's such an important inve$tment. The last thing you want is to be scrambling to find an outfit for a last minute job interview. Take on the closet challenge and get a head start- you'll thank me later.
5. A Sense of Organization
This may sound very general for me to include on this list, but truly, in whatever field you're going into, you have to be organized in some way or another. Whether it's to-do lists, a planner, your notes app, or iCal, do what keeps you afloat, focused, and goal-oriented. If you don't have a system yet, find what works best for you. Ask around or read some articles on how to get tasks completed at work efficiently. What works for others may not work for you- my strategy always includes headphones so I can zone in and check another task off my to-do list. Read more about organization here.
I hope this little guide serves as a checklist for those graduating or moving out of their parent's house and stepping into the 'real world'. What do you want me to talk about next time? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Until next time,