Sunday, May 16, 2010

Get ready. Get set. Get professional!

It is never too early to start on your career. Whether you are a college freshman with an undeclared major or a senior graduating in the next few days, being a professional now will go a long way. A connection you make at a conference may lead you to an interview at your dream job. Or a mentor’s advice may help you land an internship where you discover your true passion. Be a professional now, and you will reap the rewards in the future.

Here are 7 Ways a College Student Can Start Becoming a Professional Now by David Spinks:

1) Plant your seeds. The people you meet today could be valuable to your future, so start networking. Connect with classmates, professors, alumni, and people on social networking sites, including LinkedIn and Twitter.

2) Participate in projects. Get involved with activities and groups on campus− anything that will provide experience in your future career and impress potential employers. For example, if you love taking photographs, apply for a photographer position in a campus newspaper or magazine. Or if you enjoy animals, volunteer at a local pet shelter.

3) Attend events. Many events are free and provide you with the opportunity to meet new people face to face. If you can’t afford to attend an event, try volunteering. PRSA also offers great webinars, some of which are free!

4) Join communities. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and many other social networking sites have communities that are open to members. There are so many communities that it is not difficult to find one that caters to your interest. Maybe a discussion on a community will spark a great humanitarian idea or inspire you to join a new cause.

5) Start writing. In my opinion, writing is one of the many things we all should do in life. Professionals need a basic understanding of writing and grammar skills. Without those skills, people may doubt your expertise and view you as unprofessional. In addition, Spinks wrote, “Writing will help you learn and grow as a professional”− so true.

6) Establish mentorship. In order to build a stronger relationship with a professional, you need to maintain it. Keep in touch with him or her and sooner or later, the relationship will deepen. When that happens, don’t be afraid to request advice or to ask them to Skype with you. That is what mentors are for− to guide you through school as you develop your career.

7) Ignore me and do whatever you want. In the end, always do what is best for you no matter what people may say. Know yourself and know what works and what doesn’t. Just remember to do something. Do anything. Just do.

There you have it folks! A great post, but the only tip I will add is stay current. Keeping up with news in your field of work will help you to learn about trends as well as give you the opportunity to join the discussion. I recently published a blog post on PROpenMic about tips to help PR practitioners stay current. Those same tips can also apply to any profession. Here’s a brief rundown of the blog post:

-Subscribe to podcasts

-Subscribe to e-mail newsletters

-Follow blogs

-Use Twitter

-Learn how to use media tools

-Attend conferences

I hope this post helped! Get ready. Get set. Get professional!

Photo from Francesco Marino

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