Club fairs, internship offers, classes and part-time jobs are all beginning.
It’s easy to sign your name to a bunch of club newsletter lists, but eventually, you’ll have to make some choices as to what you want to follow through on and which you don’t.
I am a perfect example of taking on too much. I always knew I didn’t want to regret not doing something. I played collegiate field hockey, pledged a sorority, worked at the study abroad office, actually studied abroad, lived in a sustainable living facility and kept up with multiple internships and part-time jobs.
Looking back, there is nothing I wish I did, aside from maybe relaxing a bit more.
Half way through your college experience, you might feel as though your responsibilities and commitments are gobbling you up. I am not condoning running from responsibility, but one way I started over was through the National Student Exchange. I realized I had a lot of commitments and I no longer was too happy. I realized as a 20 year old, I didn’t need that much stress.
I made some phone calls and prepared a trip with the National Student Exchange. I figured out that a school 3,000 miles away had the courses I needed and was cheaper for me to go to. I got to relive some study abroad moments (packing for four months in two bags, meeting new people from all over the world, exploring a new area). I am a proud alumna of all of the organizations I was apart of while at my home school back in New Jersey. Now, when I have a few hours in between classes and internship work, I get to explore California with new friends. I scheduled courses into my schedule that make sense to my academic career that I wouldn’t be able to have done otherwise.
If half way through your college years, you feel as though your life is more stressful than you can manage, go over to your school’s study abroad office and check out if they participate in the National Student Exchange.
If you don’t have this as an option or traveling isn’t for you, be honest with yourself and with others about how much you can take on. Exploit your opportunities; go out there and do stuff; but be sure to take some time for yourself too.
As a senior, making career connections is more important than ever. That means your social media profiles need to be up to snuff, and you should be taking proactive measures to talk to potential employers and people in the field (aka people who could potentially help you land a job). It’s a lot to think about, so take it a step at a time.
To get started, you should look at your profiles and decide how professional they are. Do your friends write comments about partying, post unflattering pictures or swear all over your Facebook wall? Do all your tweets consist of a play by play of your night, reaching out to friends, or simply focused on stalking your favorite celebrities? It’s time to clean up your act. Making your profile private won’t do much for you. Sometimes employers will have you log in during the interview, or they’ll find some way to find some of your information. The best thing to do is delete and privatize certain things. Maybe make certain friends’ wall posts for your eyes only, so they don’t take your reputation down with them. You can block all pictures you’ve been tagged in so people on your profile can’t see them; however, the pictures are still floating around the Internet and could be found at some point. You should ask whoever posted the images to take them down to be safest. Delete tweets that don’t do anything to boost your professional image. And if you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn, which is considered one of the most important career tools in social media.
Once your act is all cleaned up, it’s time to go on an outreach frenzy. Take some time to think about your field, and who would be important to follow and learn from. For example, if you’re in journalism, you should be following magazines, newspapers, broadcast stations and any news outlet you like. You should also look to follow writers and reporters. Who you follow on Twitter says a lot about you to employers, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do with your account. Try tweeting to them on occasion, with comments or questions. If they’re really popular, they might not get back to you (ever), but it’s worth a try and helps show you’re proactive with your career. Even some re-tweets from non-celebrities will show you take your social media professionally and demonstrate how you’re trying to improve your skills in the field—by looking at the best of the best.
Besides reaching out on Twitter, LinkedIn is key. The easiest way to reach out to people not in your networks and working in a field you desperately want to get into is searching for alums. Though you haven’t graduated yet, you can join your college’s alumni group on LinkedIn and from there, life will be so much easier. You can search the group for companies, location, and even similar interests to learn about the job market in a certain area, what a company looks for when hiring, or what working like the field is like in general. People like to help others, and if they’re passionate for their school, they’ll definitely be willing to help a new graduate. Just remember to be polite, not be pushy, and never straight up ask for a job. Seek advice and tips instead, which will serve you better in the long run.
In other words, social media isn’t just for fun anymore. That doesn’t mean you can’t put up fun statuses for your friends’ birthdays or ever post any pictures from a party (though try to avoid the drinking pics if they exist), but you should be more conscious of what you post. You should focus on connecting with people who make a difference in your field and show you’re paying attention to what’s new. Look for roles models so your own Twitter can one day serve as a strong model for new young professionals entering the field. Now’s the time to really focus on yourself and the future, so why not put in the extra effort to look like the prime candidate for a job offer?
Best of luck and happy (professional) tweeting!
There’s a time to show off what you’ve got. There’s a time to admit your nervousness. There’s a time to accept responsibility for your action, even when you crossed a line you didn’t know was there. There’s a time to ask for help.
There’s a time to put on your big girl pants the morning after a rough day and do it all over again.
Some quick tips to remember while interning:
You can’t expect to know everything and be perfect the first day.
Mistakes help you learn.
Sometimes when you’re not confident, fake it.
Don’t fail to communicate.
For those who like specific examples, I have been juggling a couple writing jobs, one of which I land some pretty big interviews. It can be incredibly intimidating when you land an interview before you really know what direction you want to take the piece. It can be very scary. Working in forms you’ve never done before, starting something new and/or being thrown into situations you never thought you would is how you grow.
Don’t be scared. You will make mistakes. Show your boss or supervisor how you handle the mistakes you make with grace and professionalism.
If you’re still feeling nervous, learn to intern from Snoop Dogg (he wasn’t Snoop Lion yet).
Although that is the majority, some college students are actually at work, and I don’t just mean typing up a paper or researching for class work. Virtual internships are a thing of the present, and although online colleges seem a bit sketchy, online internships can yield some real resume building experience.
Personally, out of the seven publications I have written for, only two were honest to goodness in-person jobs, and only one was in a typical 9-5 format (although it was really 9-6pm with a half hour lunch break).
Although working in your pajamas seems like a dream come true, and sometimes is, getting dressed and going out in public to work can make a great difference to your motivation and quality of work. I’m not going to lie though, making deadline in my workout clothes while on the deck at my grandmother’s house with iced tea and cookies in hand is a dream come true…
As a journalism major, gaining writing experience online is an option. Education majors might not find as much luck gaining virtual internships, but knowing how to find internships online is key.
Check out the Top 10 Internship Ready Majors provided by Internships.com.
Speaking of that site, five out of the seven writing opportunities I have had were from internships.com. The steps to finding an internship are easy. Make a profile. Upload your resume. Copy and paste your cover letter. Search and apply. Just be sure to tweak your CV for employers aka customize it with their company name and highlight one specific reason why you think you’re cut out for their position. Then it’s all a waiting game.
Gaining experience can be nerve racking, but the more things you apply to, the better your chances of hearing back. Don’t leave any pebble unturned.
One thing I realized the hard way is to be sure to research or read up about the company before applying and accepting. I knew a bit of what I was getting into with one job I had, but I quickly realized it was not for me. This situation can be prevented if you do your research beforehand.
There are tons of quality websites to find internships and entry-level jobs that are major specific. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I’m reluctant to sharing all of the websites I use as a journalism major (since the field is so tough right now), but as soon as I nail something down for myself I’ll share some specifics!
Good luck and happy hunting.