How to Have a Productive and Fun Summer

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It’s finally summer. And since you know that you only have so many summer vacations left, you’re prioritizing relaxing and reconnecting with friends and family! It’s time to fit in everything that you couldn’t during the school year when you were too busy to even sleep. Now, everything is a little slower paced.

Except, soon enough it’ll be August, and none of your goals will be accomplished. This isn’t to say that you don’t have anything to fill your time now. You probably have a summer job or internship and are visiting old friends. But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of achieving some long-procrastinated goals. The truth is that you can have both, with some careful planning. Summer is the perfect time to have your cake and eat it too. You can read those books you were supposed to in high school (and now realize weren’t just a waste of time), travel somewhere new (so you’ll have something interesting to say to your new roommate), or lose that freshman fifteen (or sophomore 20, we don’t judge).

Write Down Your Goals!

It might seem useless, but writing down your goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. Writing them down not only shows more commitment than simply envisioning it, but it also ensures that your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). While it’s easy to think things like, “I should read more this summer,” or “I should work out more during the summer, since I don’t have to get up early,” it’s a lot harder to come up with actionable goals. When you’re writing goals down, you’re forced to confront the fact that your goals aren’t very SMART. Instead, you’re more likely to write down something like, “I will read three novels this summer” or “I will work out five days a week for an hour.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will let you know see whether or not you’re overburdening yourself. If you have a goal list 10 pages long for the summer, this might not be a summer vacation, and that’s a priority too!

Plan Trips Ahead of Time

You’ve only got a couple more weeks until the end of summer, but you’re scheduled to work some extra shifts. That’s okay you’ll make some moolah right before the start of the semester — no problem, right? Until your friends call you about an impromptu camping trip, and you’re stuck between scrambling to get your shifts covered or missing out on one last hoorah with your friends.

It’s a crappy situation and one that too many ill-prepared college kids find themselves in. It’s even worse if you’re only in town for the summer because then the pressure is really on to both make money and spend as much time with friends as possible. It’s much easier if you plan out your trips in advance. Obviously, this can’t be a reality in all circumstances, but you should do with as many summer trips as possible.

Also, planning ahead for trips will let you account for your goals! Everyone accounts for work schedule changes, but keep in mind whatever schedule you have built around your goals as well. Of course, it’s not impossible to stay fit while traveling, and learning a language while traveling can be ideal! However, there might be some goals that you have that are more difficult to do, like making money to pay for tuition. Plans you have for those sort of goals might need to be accelerated when you consider travel plans.

Pad Your Resume

If you don’t have a job or internship, there are other valuable ways to gain experience. You can volunteer for various organizations, write for online magazines, or do online classes. The experience you’re looking for will depend on your niche, but this summer doesn’t have to be completely useless. You can use it to get ahead.

With this step in particular, though, make sure that this is an experience you will enjoy. Summer should be at least somewhat relaxing, and no one wants to start fall semester already burnt out. It’s important to pad your resume with experience, but it’s also important to take a moment to enjoy yourself.

Summer shouldn’t be a productivity wasteland, but deciding how productive you want to be is up to you. Some people see this as a great time to get ahead. Others just need to take a month and reset. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting absolutely nothing done. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing, but accomplishments and experiences will make your summer, not Netflix binging. Focus on the end goals, and you’ll have your best summer yet.

Use Your Summer Job to Catapult Your Summer

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“Summertime, go get a job!”

Have you heard that one yet? I remember hearing that from many people when I was in High School. Oddly, it mostly came from people that I rarely saw, didn’t really know what I was doing with my life, and just liked to offer unsolicited advice. I am all about maximizing the time you have during the summer because most don’t. If you do have a job or will find one for the summer, approach it with the right mindset because that is how you will get the most impact.

Your summer job is really for your development. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be careers. That isn’t what they are meant to be. You’ll find yourself moving out of those types of jobs by maximizing the time you have when you start. Understand that. Your summer job is a foundation step for your career.

Over the summer, you can develop specific skills that will help catapult your career. Accountability, organization, communication, and work, to name a few.

Accountability

Be the best at whatever your responsibilities are. They may seem small or time spent wasted to you, but you are literally getting paid to fulfill these responsibilities, so they mean something to the business you work for. If you are a cashier, never leave a till unbalanced. If you stock shelves, establish an incredible organization system. Take pride in what you do and max it out. Yes, people will tell you to “calm down, slow down, or stop taking it so seriously” but in reality, you aren’t truly focusing only on today, you are trying to build a mentality that will propel your tomorrow. This will help you establish a habit of accountability. That way, when you start classes again in the Fall, or move on to the next job, you are ready to maximize every class and every responsibility you have even when you know it is only short term.

Organization

Starting a new job means you’ll be adjusting your daily schedule around this new role. Start planning your time so that you are never late. Fit in a solid morning routine, get what you need to get done outside of your job, but do not be late. Once you are at work, organize your flow in the way you get things done. Find the best way to work. Try new things, try new ways, improve the process. This is another habit that will give you success in school and later jobs. You’ll know how to change up the way you study or take notes, you’ll know how to take on new projects in later jobs. You’ll be able to get more done.

Communication

No matter the job, you’ll work with people. Maybe it is only the same three that you see and talk to every shift, maybe you consistently meet different people every day. Life is all people. Start practicing the skill of developing relationships with people. Great communication will present you with more opportunities than you ever thought possible. Focus on seeking to understand, help them get what they want, and let them know you appreciate them. This will help you as you later work with classmates and professors, and future people you will interact with in future jobs.

Work

More than anything, you’ve got to get it done! Make sure you are the employee that gets their stuff done. Even though you know this summer job is not forever, don’t waste your time. You’ll waste your time if you drag your feet. You’ll get more out of it when you build your ability to get things done. This mentality and habit will propel you through the rest of school and you will be ready to make some big things happen when you are ready to jump into your career.

Your summer job is more than just having something to do now right? Right. Go get it done. Build yourself into a better human. Start now, and go get it.

The Pros & Cons of Taking a Summer Job

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As we get ready to go home for the summer, we have a big question on our mind: should we work a summer job? It’s a tricky question with no right or wrong answer, so how do we know if we should apply or not? By reviewing over these pros and cons, you may find what works for you.

 

summer-break-job-pros-cons

 

Pros of Working Over the Summer

Cash. Moola. Dough. Dinero. Whatever you want to call money, you almost certainly need it. There’s no denying that being a college student is expensive, even when you’re on break. Saving up for the next school semester can help you avoid any chance of going over budget on coffee runs, textbooks, or trips out with your friends.

Of course, you also need to keep in mind any student loans you may have. Paying off your student loans while in college, even if just a few bucks a month, can be a huge benefit. Use your summer cash to jumpstart your repayment early. You’ll thank yourself for it in the future.

You may also want to work a summer job for the bonus lines it will add to your resume. Taking on a summer job, especially if you do the same one every year, shows that you are responsible, professionally minded, and serious about what you do. If you impress your bosses, you can bank on them for recommendation letters or to help network up.

Finally, don’t knock working as a way to just get out of the house! While you may think what you need is to sit back and enjoy some R&R, after a few days or weeks of it, you most likely will grow restless. A summer job can give you a consistent schedule, goals to work towards, and a social group to hang around with.

 

Cons of Spending Your Break on the Job

While most summer jobs are flexible, others may not allow you to take a vacation or time off for any summer classes. This means that your summer break becomes only summer work. Be sure to ask about scheduling vacays in advance and think through this major con before signing on.

There’s also the work itself to consider. While you may be okay making a few bucks an hour walking dogs or flipping burgers, work like that will not go far in the long run. Instead, consider alternatives closer to your career plan like interning with a startup or writing for a website like OCM as a trendsetter.

Summer jobs are also not ideal if you plan on using your break to play catch up with classes or have a packed season working on college related activities. Don’t let summer job demands make you forget that you’re a college student first and your academics take priority as much as possible.

 

Work vs. Play: The Big Summer Question

I think we all know that our ideal summer is sitting on some beach with our friends nearby. But, in the real world, money needs to be made and we need to focus our energies on what comes after college — and that includes working towards our professional goals.

However, before you start filling out applications, make sure you review the vacation policies, the type of work you’ll be doing, and your schedule. Being honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle can help you answer the question on if you should take on a summer job.

Parent’s Corner: Talking to Your Kid about Getting a Job

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Parents: College Kids Getting Jobs

When you get that first college tuition bill for your student, there is bound to be a bit of sticker shock attached. Every year, the cost of getting a degree rises at nearly every school. While scholarships and outside funding are available, finding that elusive full-ride is harder than ever. That is why many parents will sit down this fall and talk to their children about the importance of getting their first job or paid internship. Here are a few tips on how to discuss working in college with your student.

What You Need to Consider

Before you talk, it’s important to understand the other side of the picture. For example, are you sure your student’s schedule can actually accommodate a job? Many take a mixture of morning, afternoon, and night classes throughout the week (and even some weekends), making it hard to find a job that caters to that crazy, changing schedule.

Another aspect you should consider is what your expectation of their grades is. It can be hard to balance activities and work normally, let alone when your first priority is going to school full-time! If your child is struggling, this may not be the time to encourage it.

Finally, it’s important to understand their personal academic and career goals. Do you know what your child wants to do with their degree after graduation? This can give you an idea of jobs that may be worth their time and efforts or if they may be more suited for an internship. For example, a future teacher might benefit from tutoring, rather than doing fast food work.

Make It Worth Their Efforts

Most students get that jobs = money, but they may not be aware of the other benefits. For example, if you see an opening for a job as an animal tech, your veterinarian major may not understand how great it would look on their resume or may not see it as a way to network. Casually discussing this can be a great way to bring up the job conversation naturally.

If the goal is to get an internship, don’t forget to discuss the benefits of a paid versus an unpaid and which one is right for them. Encourage them to speak with professors or to an advisor if they’re unsure, and introduce them to a former college student if you can. Hearing it from outside sources can inspire them to act.

Lend a Hand

It can be intimidating to search for a job, especially with resumes and interviews. If your student did not work in high school, taking these unknown steps can be scary and a test of confidence. You can help out by offering to assist by proof reading their resume (or pointing them towards someone more capable), helping search job sites, or brainstorming work around town they can take on.

At the same time, be very careful not to overstep or take over. If you do too much, they may be tempted to let you do all the work without taking ownership. Or, on the other hand, they may lose interest and forget about it all together. It’s a fine line to walk, so be sure to check in often.

Be Honest At All Times

This isn’t the time to hold back. If money is a major concern, especially from your perspective, this is the time to open up. Tell them of your concerns and the reality of the situation. At this point in their lives, they should be able to understand and hear you out.

At the same time, let them talk honestly with you. Listen to their concerns, and help them think through their worries. Balancing jobs and student life may not be easy, but with your help and encouragement, you can make the difference in their decision.

Tips for Creating & Designing Business Cards in College

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Business Cards

When you think of business cards, you probably think of older men in business suits handing out little white cards to other older men in suits. But having business cards doesn’t require you to have a business! In fact, it can actually help you land your first job or meet your next boss! Having a business card in college can open tons of professional doors that a piece of paper with your phone number on it simply can’t. Ready to make your own? We talked to four college entrepreneurs on what their top tips for designing and creating business cards in college to get you the scoop.

1. Taylor, founder of Fur Sure Dog Care: “Don’t make the business card too flashy or cluttered. Only put relevant information with a simple, clean design… Keep it professional and simple.”

Taylor gives one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to the overall look of a business card: less is absolutely more. Your name, your college, your major, and two methods of contact are all you need. Anything else is just overkill.

2.  Stephen Soward, Co-Founder and COO of Campus Insights “Having a business card is valuable because it allows you to make a professional first impression and take the first step towards a longer-lasting relationship. It’s important, however, to not wait for someone to reach out to you if you give them your business card. You should take the initiative to follow up.”

A business card is only the beginning of the story. You’ve already made a very serious impression on the person you gave your card to, and if they took it willingly, that’s a good sign — but now is the time to act. Wait a day or two (or wait for the weekend to pass) and send a follow up email reminding them of who you are, how you met, and your conversation. This will get the ball rolling all over again.

3.  Riley Soward, Co-Founder and CEO of Campus Insights “The most important information to include on a business card is your name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn URL. You get bonus points for including a QR code or if your card has a uniquely memorable design.”

Tech can really help your business card flourish. By starting with the LinkedIn page or portfolio website, your card can be a place to show off your resume with just a catchy link or URL name. But if you really want to wow or make it easier for those new contacts to find you, create a free QR code and add the design to the back of your business card. It’s impressive and memorable while also being a great way to show you’re willing to go the extra mile.

4.  Anish Aggarwal, founder of Top Tier Learning: “I’ve always believed that a business card should convey both the purpose and personality of the company.”

Less is usually more, but that doesn’t mean your business card has to be dry and stodgy. In fact, depending on your major and the career you want to go into, you may want to toss a bit of yourself into the mix. If you want to be a social media manager or graphic artist, for example, don’t show up with a dull, boring handout. On the other hand, business majors or those in more rigid career fields should consider traditional over ultramodern designs. Black, navy, gold, silver, and gray are good starter colors. You can add an extra touch by getting cards that are heavier in material, have a different texture to it, or that have features like gold inlaid lettering.

Making Your Summer Job Work For You

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summer job picWhat happens when you can’t afford to take that unpaid internship and your summer job seems like the most random, thankless set of tasks you’ve ever done? Make your summer job work for you!

Once you figure out the qualities employers are looking for, you can discover how your summer job may actually be building you into a perfectly marketable employee! There is value beyond the skimpy paycheck. Communicate this to potential employers and you’ll elevate yourself out of that summer job and into that paid internship or position!

The first thing to do is get an idea of what employers are really looking for. The more specific to your ideal position you can get with employer desires, the better. There are a few ways you can do this.

  • Do some online research     linkedin     poynter     glassdoor    higheredjobs
  • Talk to upperclassmen/grads who work or intern
  • Speak with professionals in your field and your college administration about who they hire. Taking the time to ask shows great initiative and they will REMEMBER you.

Check out “The Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates” on the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Website. A great list. (What they don’t include is that you probably need to know somebody too. Connections never hurt, and that’s why you shouldn’t be shy about reaching out early on to those in your field!)

Alas, you sigh and say, “How am I supposed to gain experience when I don’t have the valuable work experience they want? I work at a dairy farm but I want to be a [something other than a dairy farmer] !” Once you’re familiar with what employers want, the next piece is to realize  the value in your current experience. Employers don’t have time to look for it, you have to show them.

Regardless of the job, when discussing your work experience with a potential employer you have to show you had goals, took initiative to learn and grow and can now transfer your Top Ten Traits to their goals.

interview

“Mr. Interviewer, I flipped burgers.”- Not impressed.   

“Mr. Interviewer, I exceeded my company quota of 800 burgers in a day and then took initiative to add to our blog in my free time.”  -Now you have the attention. And if Mr. Interviewer remembers you from last year when you asked him what employers look for? –He becomes Mr. Employer.

Here are some peers and professionals in the higher education field (big cheeses!) who’ve shared their WORST summer jobs. Believe it or not, some of these big cheeses were putting cheese on burgers when they were in your shoes too. And you know what? They learned. Find the value in your summer job.

Noah Fox, Director of Housing Operations: Tiffin University

“I would have to say one of the worst summer jobs I ever had was working on a duck farm (hatchery). As you can imagine, the work was very dirty. Cleaning out duck barns full of duck droppings was probably the worst part of the job.” “What did you learn?”

  • Learned value of hard work
  • Practiced effective time management
  • Built commonalities and fostered lasting professional relationships.

“These lessons I learned have helped me tremendously throughout my time in the workforce.”

Ty Krueger, SWACURH Regional NRHH Advisor

“I worked in the records/registrar’s office one summer and spent the entire summer taping documents to sheets of paper to be scanned.” “What did you learn?”

“The tape and paper has to be flat so it doesn’t jam the printer, hah!” “But seriously…”

“Even the most menial of tasks have a purpose and in the long run, helping someone is a valuable reward.”

Bill Pickett, Senior Director of Student Involvement: University of Nebraska, Omaha

“I worked at McDonald’s. I smelled like fries and nuggets every day. I opened for breakfast and then lunch, 5am-2pm in the summer! McInsane! I will tell you, I learned a lot.“What did you learn?”

  • I enhanced my ability to work with a team
  • Applied creative problem solving to meet company goals
  • Learned to work effectively under pressure
  • Honed customer service techniques and developed relationships with customers

“It was honestly like a housing job… you learn a variety of things that will help in any field from jobs you may not expect to learn from.”

There is a reason they call jobs “opportunities”. Any job, regardless of how many feathers, droppings, tape, or burgers are involved, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take your Top Ten Traits with you to your next interview. When an interviewer sees the value in you, you will earn that paid internship or job and you’ll be prepared. By this time, you’re no stranger to hard work!

Share YOUR worst summer job and what you learned in the comment field below.

 

Perfect Jobs While Living On-Campus

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If you’re reading this post, I first have to commend you for actively looking or being interested in looking for a job while living on-campus. Getting a job while on-campus not only helps your pocket weigh a little more, but also helps you gain valuable skill sets that will benefit you once you graduate and enter the work-world.

Having a job while living on-campus and taking a full schedule of classes is no easy feat. Many of you even have RHA activities and outside of class responsibilities to tend to. The important thing to remember is not to stress yourself out! If you feel like you can only work a few hours a week, there are many jobs on and around campus that will be more than understanding to let you work around your class schedule. Some of those jobs may even let you bring your homework to the job and study during quieter times.

If you’re actively looking to find a job on or around campus and don’t know where to start, head to your Career Center. The Career Center has tons of valuable information about working your first job while attending school, your rights as a student and employee, and various jobs and interviews that are open on or around your campus. Speaking with a Career Center rep and picking up information could be beneficial in helping you find a job or internship that directly matches your areas of study. This will not only give you a little extra income in your pocket, but will also look great on your resume.

1) Working the On-Campus Bookstore- This is a great opportunity for you to work on-campus and not have to rely on public transportation to get to a job. If the weather is bad and the school is closed, chances are the bookstore is also. You can meet new friends while working this job, by helping them find things in the bookstore or working along side them. During slow hours, you can sit at a desk and work on your studies. Although the pay might not be extravagant it’s a perfect way to work during college and not completely wear yourself out. Some colleges even offer certain events or perks to working on-campus, so check it out if you’re interested in not having to travel.

2) Local or On-Campus Coffee Shop – Everybody loves coffee. Even if they don’t like it, most people still drink it because they need it! College students are notorious for needing extra jolts of caffeine and even those cold energy drinks can get a little tiring. Plus, who wants to drink a freezing cold beverage walking through their snowy campus on the way to their 8 am. class? Not I! The best part about this option is that there’s most likely multiple different coffee shops on or around your campus that you can work at. This means that the “work staff” is probably mostly other college students like yourself, all working short amounts of hours. This is different than working off-campus where most people are working a part time or full time schedule that you may not have time for. You can meet new friends while working a job that’s fun and always smells like deliciously roasted coffee!

3) RHA or Student Leader – Depending on your University, working as an RA could mean that your room and board is either partially or completely paid for. You’ll get to plan and attend so many amazing events and conferences that will really set your leadership skills over the top. Some Universities even offer a small stipend for being and RA or even your own room. Not only will you get these stated perks, but you’ll also get an amazing opportunity to build your resume and portfolio. You’ll learn how to network both with other students, and other leaders on your campus and in your community. If you’re great at working in groups and are interested in being trained for mediation and on-campus conflicts, this could be a really cool outlet for you. Not to mention, people will come to you with problems. To know your job involves helping people who look up to you is great enough payment, the rest of the perks are just added benefits.

These three jobs are just brief examples of different jobs on or around campus that you can get involved in. Have any other great ideas for jobs in college? Share them!

Turning That Summer Internship into a Job

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One of the best ways to get your foot in the professional industry in college is by finding a series of internships that correlate with your chosen field of study. Internships are a great way to get a first-hand feel of what your field looks like in the real world. Sure, learning about it in Statistics and Business Development classes gives you a hazy overview of what goes on, but there’s no better experience than being in the field to get a bird’s eye view of operations.

Internships are also a valuable way to start building and networking with professional connections. Through internships you can find great material to put on your resume, learn valuable on-the-job training and skills, and possibly even snag yourself a future job. Most internships are unpaid; however, don’t let that deter you from seeking out one that you love. Sometimes, internships will reimburse you in ways other than pay, such as tickets to shows if you’re in the radio/television broadcast industry, gas reimbursement and sometimes free lunches. The main goal is to not pick an internship because of the concrete objectives. Instead, pick an internship that really strikes your interests and can offer you valuable information about your career. Really make an appearance in the industry and absorb everything you can about current trends in the workplace. By being an intern, you can come up with great ideas and bring a new perspective to companies looking for some creativity. Put forth your best effort and show your supervisor that you are a great fit for the company. If you want to show them that you are the right candidate for their next open position, here’s what you do to leave a lasting impression.

1) Be Professional. Always.- Most college students (and even some adults) don’t realize that their professional appearance goes beyond the double doors of their office. This goes for your academic appearance as well. It’s no question that while you are at work or school or in the eye of those who are powerful influences in either case that you must be polished, poised and on your best behavior. But, when it comes to your social media presence, public presence and how you act with friends and family, are you still behaving with such poise? You may think that your educational/professional life and “outside of work” life are two separate entities but it seems that this is no longer the case in today’s time. If you’re serious about being viewed professionally, clean it up. Missed last week’s blog on creating a professional appearance through social media channels? Check it out here.

2) Be On Time- Yes, you’re a college student. Yes, you handle a hectic schedule of classes, cramming for exams and trekking all over campus in every weather scenario. You are stressed and tired, but you still must be on time. Remember that your internship is not yet a job, more like a strict prerequisite. As an intern, you’re under a magnifying glass. You have to be sure that you’re coming to work on time (or before if work is abundant) and leaving no later than you’re supposed to. Even if you have an appointment or group project, try to schedule them for after work as much as possible. If you HAVE to take a time block during the work day, make sure you get the A-OK from your supervisor first. If you’re sick and need to go to the doctor or deal with personal matters, do what you have to do to stay healthy and happy. However, if you’re trying to take off time during your work day to go to a concert or shopping with your friends, you better decide to rethink your decision before asking to take off.

3) Be Ahead Of The Game- The most exciting thing for supervisors of any internship to see are interns excited and willing to learn in the first place. Keep in mind that you’re still learning and it’s okay to make mistakes. If you aren’t sure, ask questions. Periodically ask your supervisor if there’s anything else you can help with or if they’ll review some of the work you’ve been doing so far for critiques. After your supervisor talks for 20 minutes going over a project with you, take notes, soak it in, and then follow up with a “So what you want me to do is..”, your supervisor will love this! Your potential employers want to know that you’re really trying to better the company and learn as much as you can. They want to make sure you’re a qualified candidate to get the job done right, the first time. Also, take notes of what’s going on around you. Try to do tasks and come up with ideas before you’re asked. This will show you taking initiative and that you catch on quickly. You’re a force to be reckoned with, show them!

There’s tons of other ways you can turn your internship into a job. If you aren’t sure but are really looking for more, try to follow the one stated above and ask your fellow students for other ideas! Feel free to share them here with us too, so other students can enter the workplace confident!

 

Social Media: A Resume Enhancer?

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If you are trying to develop your social media useage start playing with some social media management tools!  via Social Media Monday: Social Media Management Tools

There are tons of articles, blogs and advice columns devoted strictly to the dangers and “don’ts” of social media. As these articles encompass valuable information such as not portraying yourself negatively or offering personal information to the public, they fail to concede the positive effects that can come from the channels. As a college student, you’re always on social media, in fact, you just about breathe it. Before you get out of bed in the morning you’ve checked your Facebook, cleared spam out of your e-mail and tweeted to the world about how you don’t want to get out of bed. Then, on your way to class, you’re tweeting about the girl in her pajama pants or how you wish you had a pair of rain boots.

So what, what’s the big deal? The cool thing about social media, besides being constantly connected to friends and family of multiple geographic locations instantaneously, is that if used correctly can really boost your resume. How? Carefully, and over time. There’s a bunch of ways you can use channels such as blog sites, LinkedIn and more to boost your professional credibility. This way, when potential job seekers go to view your resume and check you out on social channels (yes, they do that now) they will not only be pleased to see non-incriminating content, but also may be impressed with your entrepreneurship. Using video sharing sites can be super beneficial to video blog or do product reviews. Blog sites may open up doors for you that allow you to be creative and express yourself. If you think these things may be of interest to you, here’s a few ideas and ways to get started.

1) Video Blogs– Over the past few years, there have been viral explosions of college kids making their own Youtube channels to video blog and do product reviews. Youtube is now populated with style gurus, make-up geniuses, and people showing step by step directions on how to create DIY products or fix broken electronics. Using a video blogging site such as this can allow you to find an area of interest and completely just “go with it”. If you love cooking and baking, show people what you’ve made and your recipes. Put some clips of how you cook the food or what ingredients are your favorite. Buy some products in a “product haul” and give your honest opinion. The most amazing part about this (besides having fun doing what you love) is that you grow a huge following from the community while also catching the eye of big businesses. Many of the “style gurus” that have made their name on Youtube get approached by companies of interest asking them to do videos reviewing their product or even  send them things to try out. This is a way to get yourself in the professional industry, without even really trying to. Remember, be professional, and truthful. Credibility is golden.

How do I get started?: Buy yourself a webcam or use the one on your laptop. If you’re really feeling inspired, buy yourself a handheld video camera that you can set up and film. Make sure you can hook the data up to your computer, so you can edit to your heart’s content! Make a little title slide and animate it to match your area of interest. Pair this with a spunky tune and use it in every video. This creates consistency and strikes interest in your audience. Studies have shown that most people lose interest after about 5 minutes, so keep it short, and sweet! Make an account on your favorite video blogging site and pave your way to success!

2) LinkedIn LinkedIn is a professional website where you can network with professional contacts either in your direct industry, or industries of interest. You can upload your resume, share articles and join groups much like in Facebook. Here, you can be social in a completely professional environment. You can build your professional profile and get your foot in the door with potential employers. You can even stay in touch with colleagues and friends or browse for job openings. If you’re interested in paving a professional outlet for yourself while being in college, that may just be a great idea. Remember, keep it professional. LinkedIn isn’t for posting pictures of your nephew riding his bike or uploading your savviest Instagram shots (unless you’re in a professional photography industry).

How do I get started? Head on over to LinkedIn.com and sign up/register. Follow all of the instructions and validate your e-mail to finish the process. Similarly, you can log into LinkedIn by linking your Facebook account. This may be something you want to think about, as it gives side links to your other social media outlets. If you’d rather not disperse your Facebook into the professional world as of yet, skip this option and sign up through the registration form on the left. Once you’ve registered, upload your resume and start building your professional profile. Start finding connections and interacting with them, as well as searching for groups that interest you to join. Really learn from the atmosphere here and try to apply it little by little to your everyday life. This is a great way to prepare you for graduation and landing that first real job.

3) Instagram… What? Yes!– Here’s the deal. Instagram IS used daily by people uploading pictures of their Starbucks or dogs sitting at restaurant tables (why is this such a fad? My dog gets in trouble for sitting UNDER the dinner table). BUT, there are exceptions to this rule. Many young entrepreneurs are now using Instagram as an outlet to spread the word about their goods and services. Example? I’ve seen copious amounts of girls making jewelry (some of it’s really cute and fairly inexpensive.. see etsy.com) and spreading word about it through their Instagram. Not only are they creating a “voice” but they are also building individual relationships with their community through such a great channel. The added bonus is that although Instagram is mostly targeted to the X/Y generations, people of all ages are now joining and sharing. This opens a huge market up to these young-sellers so that they may see increased revenue from efforts other than just selling their products online. Also, some of the biggest brand names we know and love today, Shoe Dazzle, Betsey Johnson, Her Campus and more are creating their voice through Instagram; uploading pictures of office fun, snapping pictures of their cute new merchandise, showing the faces behind-the-scenes and more. This is an excellent way to really grow relationships with your customers, which builds trust and credibility. Plus, it’s fun for you, too!

How do I get started? It USED to be that the only people who could use the Instagram app were Iphone users. Now, you Android users can share your creative photos as well. You can even use Instagram-esque capabilities from your Windows desktop by using Instagrille. If you want to check out how to maximize your Instagram skills(z) here’s an interesting article from Tech News Daily on how to make the most dramatic effect with your photos. Create an account on Instagram, snap a few photos, edit and submit! You can search users and #hashtags to grow your audience and follow some people of your own! Market your goods or services in a fun and friendly way, but don’t spam it! One or two posts a day should do it, and make sure you think creatively about how to market so that you set yourself apart from the rest!

4) Blog It Up– One of the absolute best ways to make a professional profile for yourself is to start blogging. Write. As much as you want. About what interests you. Why? Writing is a great form of expression, and people love to read things from the latest news stories, gossip columns, DIY crafts, recipes, movie reviews, and more. You can tailor your blogs to be completely based on style if you want; what’s hot, what’s not. What pairs well, and what celebrities nailed the VMA outfits on the head. Make sure you really make sure to be professional in your writing. Check your grammar, use credible information/sources, try to be un-biased (unless you want your voice to be in support of one case or another), and most importantly, write about things your audience can interact with you on. If you’re going to use writing for professional purposes, try to leave your personal information out of this blog. Maybe create a separate, more personal blog that only you, or a select few, know about. That way your personal information isn’t compromised and you aren’t mixing personal life with a potential profession. Blogging is a great way for you to polish up your writing skills and create a voice for yourself. Many businesses are looking for young professionals who can come up with new and innovative ways to create their company voice, and may be really impressed with the way you conquered the task on your blog.

How do I get started: Browse the web for your favorite blog format of choice. Maybe it’s WordPress, maybe it’s Tumblr. This is your chance to show how creative you are, so be creative and start writing.

I Threw Out the Bait, Where’s the Nibble: Trying to snag a new job

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You may have heard that the job field is a dog eat dog world in today’s competitive market. While this may be true, you are perfectly equipped and qualified to go in and rock that interview. You’ve read over the job description and you have the experience. You’re feeling confident and excited about going in and meeting your potential new co-workers and “wowing” them during the interview. Always remember, it’s okay to be nervous! Being nervous shows that you care about making a good first impression, which is always the most important thing to do.

You pick out your perfect outfit and make sure everything is ironed and ready to go with every hair groomed and in place. You get to your interview ten minutes early and you’ve remembered to bring a copy of your resume. You’re confident, and prepared.

After what seems like two hours waiting in anticipation, you’re called back and interviewed on your skill sets. You’re a little nervous, but you hide it with confidence and answer any question they throw your way. The interview ends, and you feel like it went really well.

The first part is to congratulate yourself for being proactive and shooting for success. Showing up early with a copy of your resume shows organization and dedication. You stepped into that office showing them that you were ready to contribute to bettering their business. Regardless of the outcome of the interview, you have gained important experience that will help you improve for your next time.

The interview lasts for about 15 minutes and then it’s over. All that anticipation for 15 minutes, you’re relieved. Your interviewers shake your hand and thank you for coming in. You walk out of your interview to 4 texts from your friends and 5 from your mom asking you how it went. You felt it went really well, and you’re not afraid to talk about it. You know it takes a few days for potential employers to get back to you, so you go through the rest of your week with your phone attached to your hip, just in case.

A week goes by, and then two. You still haven’t heard anything. You check your e-mail constantly and refresh your inbox to see if anything new came in. Maybe they forgot your number or you accidentally wrote down the wrong information in your nervous panic. Maybe they hated your interview and don’t even want to speak to you ever again. Maybe your breath was so offensive during the review of your resume that you clouded their judgment and they forgot who you were.

The truth is the answer is none of the above. You really DID do great on your interview, and they’re more than likely keeping you in the back of their head as they grow a running list of candidates. Sometimes we get so excited about job interviews that we forget that other people need to be interviewed for the position as well. And, in most cases, the interview is done in waves, where a smaller group is selected and then re-interviewed (either in person or via phone) to find the ultimate candidate. Just be patient. Know that you did your best and that you are just as qualified as anyone else they interviewed.

Make sure you follow up after your interview and after sending your resume to stay on track with the process. This doesn’t mean call five times a day, but sending a nice, “Hi Joe, this is Sarah. Just checking to see if you’ve received my resume and if there’s anything else I can provide you with during this process” e-mail is a good way to re-iterate your interest in the company. Keeping touch while polishing your image with things such as a personalized cover letter for your resume are the cherry on top of that perfectly frosted cupcake. It shows that you’re really interested in the position, and want them to know so.

When you finally do get that call, just remember that regardless of if you got the position or not, you tried your hardest, and that’s what counts. You’ve gained the experience and know what to expect for your next interview. Maybe there are some things you’d like to do differently, or maybe you want to knock it out of the ballpark in the future like you did with this one.

The call with the job offer is one of the best moments ever. You feel so accomplished and qualified. All your hard work and following up was worth it, and now you’ve snagged that awesome position. No more staying up late playing video games and going to late movie showings with your friends during the weekday anymore. You are now employed, and would like to stay that way!

If the call doesn’t turn out how you expected and they decided to go a different direction with their choice of hire, don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of job opportunities out there for you that are waiting for you to send off your resume. Sometimes, you can ask the interviewer why they went with a different candidate, and they may tell you they were looking for someone with a bit more experience, or maybe they won’t. The important part of this is to learn how to reflect on what happened, and take it in constructively for future interviews. Don’t get discouraged, you WILL find that perfect job and it will be worth it when you get it. Be proud of yourself for the effort, relax a bit and try again tomorrow.