Setting Yourself Apart in College
By, Jessica Lawlor
As a college student, it’s always nerve-wracking to think about the future. Finding a job is one of the major worries that a person nearing graduation experiences. However, there are many ways to set yourself apart as a student that just might help you to land your dream job after graduation.
Social networking: You’ve probably heard it before, but social networking is becoming increasingly important in the business world, and therefore should become increasingly important for you! You probably already have a Facebook page, but have you created a Twitter page, yet? What about a LinkedIn profile? Joining these sites and getting your name out there will help to raise your profile. Twitter allows you to “follow” people and engage in conversations with them in 140 characters or less. LinkedIn is a fabulous resource because it allows you to create a resume for yourself, and then “connect” with other students and professionals.
Interact: So, now that you’ve created a profile for yourself on different social networking sites, what do you do? Interact. It’s all about the conversation. When I signed up for Twitter, I went to Twitter’s search page and typed in key words of the type of people I wanted to follow. For instance, I used search terms such as public relations, freelance writing, creative writing, and journalism. Within seconds, thousands of entries of other people on Twitter talking about these subjects popped up. I browsed through profiles and decided who I wanted to follow. To get a conversation started, post a link to an interesting article or pose a question that your followers could answer. Don’t be afraid to talk to professionals in the field your studying; they will most likely be flattered that you want their advice.
Create a blog: I’ve been told that there is no better way to set yourself apart than by creating and maintaining your own blog. Writing in a blog shows a potential employer that you’re constantly brainstorming ideas and practicing your writing skills each day. Along with writing in your own blog, read and comment on other blogs that are specific to the topic you write about. A great way to gain credibility for yourself is to show other bloggers that you’re interested in what they have to say. If you think another blogger has said something interesting, link back to them in your post.
Start a student organization: Last spring, I co-founded the student-run PR firm, PRowl Public Relations at Temple University. A member of our PRSSA chapter realized that there was a need for students to gain experience in the PR field and recruited other students to help create a firm. A year later, our firm has had seven clients, and many students have gained the experience of working at a PR agency. Take initiative and start your own organization. I truly believe that everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit somewhere inside of them. Dig deep and think about what interests you. The organization certainly doesn’t have to pertain to your major; it could simply be a club for an interest you have.
Get Involved: While it looks great to have several internships on your resume, I believe that it’s also important to be involved in extracurricular activities. I’m very proud of my experiences as a student in PR, but I also take pride in the activities I participate in that have absolutely nothing to do with public relations. For instance, I am a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. I also write for The Temple News. These activities don’t directly relate to my major, but they show that I have interests outside of what I hope to do when I grow up. It’s all about being well-rounded.
Learn a language: I’m currently learning Italian and loving it. Why am I learning Italian? No real reason. I’m not sure if I’ll ever need to use Italian in my career, but if an employer has a need for a candidate with skills in a language, knowing Italian might boost my resume to the top of the pile.
Study abroad: Gaining experience in another country and understanding another culture truly can set a candidate apart. I haven’t been abroad yet, (I’ll be studying in Rome this summer!) but I’ve heard that the perspective you gain about life, after living in a different country is incredible. I think that studying abroad shows that a candidate is mature and willing to absorb themselves in any experience that comes their way.
What are you doing as a student that sets you apart? Employers, what else can students do to set themselves apart in your eyes?
Jessica Lawlor is a public relations student at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She is currently the Director of Public Relations for PRowl Public Relations, Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm, and serves on the executive board of Temple’s PRSSA chapter.