Four years ago, I was just beginning my professional journey. I knew this was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do...but I didn't realize how much I would learn besides the curriculum. For everyone who is just starting as a student, or for those who need reminding, here are the lessons of a graduate:
- Get involved
As a freshman I made it my goal to eventually become part of my professional association's executive board. And I did. I spent two years on exec, with my senior year as president. I was on the inside of what I loved and became close with professors and fellow students. It was a great resume builder but also a way to find my point of view about dietetics.
- Go beyond the campus
Do become part of the clubs on your campus...but step it up. Search for things beyond the university to gain additional experiences. Volunteer in your community, or seek virtual experiences with companies. It will be some extra work but you've now become a more competitive applicant than many of your classmates.
- Be professional
Give your school and yourself a good name no matter where you go. Dress appropriately, be on time, and try your hardest. You're in college to become a professional so act the part. As a side note, drunken pictures with your name on them can be very college...but definitely not professional.
- Send handwritten notes
People are sadly shocked to recieve a classic handwritten thank you or contact note. You will stick with that person above those who fire off a quick email...or (please don't let this be you) don't send anything at all! If you're a stationary nut, you could have some personalized.
- Start your brand
Have an online presence. Craft an e portfolio. You could write for websites or make your own. Are you on Twitter? Companies who are hiring are! Go for a cohesive feel on your media with similar colors or icons and people will start to connect the dots.
- Give back
Share words of wisdom or your favorite resources with the next generation. Wouldn't you have appreciated that? People remember honesty and kindness and they will be your peers in the business world one day.
- Try your best, but know when it's enough
The agony. And by agony I mean four semesters of various chemistry classes. It wasn't a class that came naturally to me so I WORKED. But there was a point when more studying wasn't helping and what I truly needed was a break. Don't burn yourself out, but don't blow it off. Find your balance.
As Abe Lincoln said "Whatever you are be a good one." And as Tim Gunn says "Make it work". Share your success secrets!