Hi Ladies,
This month’s hot topic is about overcoming fear. There are honestly so many different fears to potentially go with for this topic. But I figured I’d pick just one: the fear of the real world. I know that sounds kind of silly, but it really applies to all of us, regardless of whether you’re looking for a full-time job or not. The time to start thinking about life after graduation is now – no matter where you are in your education process. The earlier you stop thinking about college as a break from “real life” and start thinking about it as a stage of real life, the better. That doesn’t mean you have to start sending out resumes the first day of your freshman year, but rather that you should always be thinking about your arc you’re following in college and where it’s likely to take you – and how you can shape it to take you where you’ll be happiest. Here are some recommendations to do just that:
Start making connections as early as you can. Email people in fields you’re interested in. Attend SWE’s annual or regional conferences. Join or create groups on campus devoted to topics that interest you. In most cases, you’ll find that professionals are more than willing to lend a hand to a bright student. It’s flattering to be recognized for what you’re accomplishing, no matter what the source, and it feels good to know you’re helping someone set out on the right path.
Do your research
Look up companies that interest you and see where you might fit – there are thousands of tasks that have to get done in a typical company regardless of whether they make tractor parts or iPod accessories. Make sure to visit and use the career services on your campus. Virtually nobody else does, so you’ll be received with open arms.
Use your summers wisely
A great internship or summer job can be a huge help, but there are other things you can do in the summer, too. Take summer courses through your school’s adult extension, or at a local community college, to build up non-academic skills like bookkeeping, business networking, leadership, or computer programming. If you can afford it, travel – learn to adapt readily to strange and unusual circumstances (Study abroad, anyone!?).
Craft your online persona
 In today’s world, one of the worst ways we can damage our future careers is by sharing too much of the wrong kind of information online. Assume that everything you post online is going to be available to prospective employers, clients, or investors, all of whom increasingly turn to the Internet to research potential employees or partners. Keep the drunken stories either anonymous/pseudonymous, or marked as “private”, and be sure to build out public-ready profiles, under your own name if at all possible.
Become a great writer
No matter what field you hope to go into, and no matter what job you hope to have in that field, writing skills will get you further than almost any other competency. Look at every written assignment as a chance to develop better writing and editing skills. Ask for feedback from your professors. Take writing classes, either for credit or through adult extension. Join a writing group, or form one. Read writing books (Stephen King’s On Writing is a great one and highly readable). In short, do whatever you can to become a better writer – you’ll be putting yourself two or three steps ahead of the rest of your graduating class.
None of these things should be the only thing you do in college. Go to classes, of course, but have fun, take adequate time to relax and blow off steam, take a risk or two, and make friends. But make sure you spend at least a little bit of time to think about what you want to do when college is over.
Until next time,