This week a good friend is moving to College Station to start a five year PhD program. I’ve talked about hiding out in college to wait a recession out, and that this is not a good idea, but this is different. My buddy has had a terrific job in a great company, a beautiful house, and all the stuff that would indicate a successful career. But he felt inspired to uproot his family and get the education and training to take his career in a different direction.
I dedicate this post to you, J.W. I know you are going to be quote overwhelmed with school, and being a dad, and keeping your sanity, and living on paupers wages, but if you take career of your career future now, you should reap the rewards later. Here’s my advice to you, as you prepare for years out of the “real world”:
- Work on your personal brand NOW. Don’t wait until who-knows-what. The best example of someone in school who has developed an amazing personal brand is Rex Gradeless, the Social Media Law Student (er, social media attorney, really).
- Build your network NOW. You will work on project with, be in class with, rub shoulders with some amazing people. Whether it’s the person sitting next to you in class, the professor, or the guest-lecturer, these are all people who can play a significant part in your professional network. You MUST have a CRM in place to manage these relationships. I didn’t and I regret it. JibberJobber is a great the tool for this. It doesn’t replace Facebook or LinkedIn, rather, it complements them.
- Help others. Whether it’s other students, undergrads, grad students, professors, etc. Be helpful and it can come back to you in spades.
- Host dinner parties. A la Keith Ferrazzi (read Never Eat Alone). These are just a few other couples of families in the program. I think this is the thing I’m most jealous of – you are going to develop some awesome relationships with other students, be a moral support for one another, etc. This can go far beyond the school years.
- Learn to talk about yourself the right way. Many students seem to be in a mode where they will be professionals some day, but today they are safely categorized as “not yet, I’m busy studying.” It’s the same problem with job seekers… they want to say something like “My name is Jason, and I’m unemployed.” In fact, they should say “My name is Jason and I’m an expert in __________.” Being a student, just like being unemployed, is a temporary status. You already have expertise in something else, don’t forget that. Pick up a copy of Brag!, which is a terrific book to help you learn how to talk about yourself appropriately.
- Get on LinkedIn – NOW. You’ll need some training, so you can have a real, effective, proactive strategy (or at least not just let it sit there). I have my LinkedIn book and my LinkedIn DVD, both which are excellent resources to bring you up to speed.
I’d love to lay out more stuff, and I know you are going to feel overwhelmed with school for the next few years, but now is the time! Here are some related posts I’ve written that may also be helpful:
- Advice for the job seeking college student
- How To Volunteer In The Job Search
- Job Seekers…Help Your Network Help You (this is about effectively communicating who you are and how others can help you)
- Job Search Tips: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days
- How To Find A Job In A Recession
Good luck during this exciting time – we will miss you!
4 thoughts on “Career Management Tips While At College”
Great advice for people with day jobs, in transition and students.
Great info, Jason, especially on networking. I’m sure I speak for many people when I say I was completely unprepared for the job search when I graduated! I wish I had this info back then:)
Jason – The safe mindset of “I’m a student” or I’m unemployed” really hit home that it is a safety net for some. Changing your mindset to focus on your specialty, passion or expertise will change others perception of you. Good advice I’ll be sure to pass this on!
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