While you’re busy with midterms, homecoming, and finding your winter clothes, the last thing you need is another assignment. But, as college students, particularly seniors, you need to begin focusing on your reputation because graduation will be here before you know it, and you’ll be faced with big decisions.
As Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukah and New Years Eve approach, friends, family, family friends, and possibly some great networking opportunities, surround us. Instead of leaving it to chance that you will be able to capture the opportunities, here are three tasks to focus on as the holidays approach:
Take inventory of your social networks
Anything you post online, into a cell phone, or send as an email can find its way to the hiring manager at a company you’d like to work for. Consider this as you post photos, comments, and links. If you were that dream employer, would YOU hire YOU? You might think a joke is funny, but what it that recruiter finds it offensive? You might have just taken yourself out of consideration for a job you could have been great at!
Since you will likely be socializing (networking) a lot around the holidays, take an inventory of your social profiles and activities now. Un-tag yourself from posts that represent you negatively, and start being mindful of how, when, and where you post your frustrations, anger, and disappointments. Perception is reality to hiring managers – who they see online is who they believe they will be interviewing.
Create an elevator pitch
This holiday season, you will find yourself in networking situations. Perhaps you’ll be networking at school holiday parties, your parent’s gatherings, job fairs, or standing in line for coffee at Starbucks. You need to be prepared to answer the question, “So, what do you do?”
The “elevator pitch” is how you quickly and succinctly describe who you are in a way that the other person will want to hear more. Use your elevator pitch to describe what you do, then describe how you do it. Do not repeat your school history, or the job title you want, or the number of years you’ve been an intern in a job, unless it makes you unique.
Be wary of holiday networking traps (i.e. alcohol, gossip, resentments), and use this season to highlight what you will bring to the workplace.
Identify your dream employers
Did you know that you can actually pick who you’d like to work for? Start creating lists of industries, companies, and organizations you’d love to work for and with. You might also make a list of who you do not want to work for – that list is also very powerful!
For instance, if you are a marketing student who plays on the college golf team, you might love to work for the PGA, Ping, Callaway, or Golf Digest Magazine. You might hate the idea of working for a software development company, surrounded by engineers and programmers.
Or, maybe you excel in math and science and dream about working for NASA or a government agency focused on cyber security? The thought of working out in nature and with creative people might make you cringe.
Start making like and dislike lists today. Then, when the holiday events near and someone asks you what kind of companies you’ll be pursuing after graduation, you’ll have some names listed already!
If you can get ahead of the holidays by focusing on who you are, what you like, and what you can offer, you will stand out from other college students who remain unfocused.
What are your tips for successfully getting through the holidays and getting ready for graduation?