College should prepare students for self-sufficiency and for life. What they don’t tell you when you go to college is who you know and how much they like you is at least as important as how well you do in your coursework. Networking, socializing, wheezeling- blasting a YouTube video off the charts like Psy- these are the skills that often land new college graduates good jobs. A lot of students who finish their masters in secondary education or nursing program do not market themselves after they graduate. It is important to network and ask people about jobs that are available. Here are some networking tips that can make the difference between $20,000 and $50,000 a year in your first “real” job.
Networking Starts by Getting to Know Yourself
Before you can marketing something you need to know what you are selling. Look at Psy. He intentionally makes fun of the Korean male stereotype. The white shirts, the sun glasses, the horses and all the money are intentionally juxtaposed again bright yellow suits and sitting on the john. One of the reasons this video is so much fun is that Psy has taken the time to think deeply and creatively about himself and his culture. Out of this he has styled a brand and it has global appeal. Start thinking creatively about yourself as if you were a brand in a marketing class. Where would you sit in a store? Even more importantly which store would you be sitting in? Come up with a brand for yourself that is unique but also one that is easy to sell. Then decide on your market. Are you interested in Law? Fashion? Non-profit work, being a rock star?
Each of these markets has its own identity. In all likelihood you are interested in a market that you already fit into. However, you also need to take an honest look at everything from your appearance to your resume and start focusing on fitting into your chosen market. This process is known loosely as personal branding and it can be very helpful in getting ahead and getting yourself a job after you get out of college. To get a handle on personal branding take a look at promotional products and ad campaigns for ideas about how to start branding yourself for your future career.
Ask yourself questions like: What goes into a brand? For example, why is Gangnam style a hit? Why are some products better sellers than others? Why are logos important? While you are not a bank, a potato chip, a shoe, or a Korean rock star understanding branding can be very helpful for understanding strengths and weaknesses. The sooner you start thinking of yourself as brandme the sooner you can get ahead.
Equally important, branding yourself takes much of the personal side of rejection out of the job-searching process. When you fail in a job interview or even in a job you can analyze the failure objectively. Failure is a marketing miscalculation rather than a personal rejection of you and your skills. Isn’t that liberating? It makes trying again much easier and it separates the ego from the job.
Networking With Other Students in the Dorm: Gangnam is a District, not a Single Person
Gangnam is a trendy district in Seoul Korea. One of the things that has made Psy’s video a hit is that he is poking fun of all the trendy people that want to be part of Gangnam. While doing this, he is putting himself and all the people in his video into the not really Gangnam group. It’s fun, there is a sense of community. On a more important level the video clearly illustrates that a group operates much more effectively than a single person. The connections Psy has in Korea helped him get the video noticed and his connections with people like Britney Spears and Katy Perry helped to land him into the pages of the Washington Post. These relationships as much as his art made Gangnam Style a hit. So what’s the lesson here?
The fellow students you know and live with are an excellent pool of contacts. Join clubs and sports. Get active in a sorority or a fraternity. Go out and dance. Any one of your friends, acquaintances or their families may be the lead you need to land that first job or create your first video.
Moreover, be aware that dorms are not private spaces. Everything from your dorm bedding to your drunken behavior has many witnesses. Most college students slip up now and again. This is expected and forgivable but doing so on a regular basis turns bad behavior into a reputation. Reputations once built are hard to burn. The kid down the hall could be the founder of the next Google or the next Korean Psy. Don’t you want him/her to remember you in a good way when you apply for a job? Try to keep your behavior in check and your room habitable. Maybe even venture into decorating it. This is really easy to do with matching bedding and some good under bed storage organizers.
College Networking: Use Your Professors Like Psy Uses Amazing Dancers
At college you are already surrounded by scores of well-connected professionals. They are called your professors. Professors are required to have office hours and they are usually pleased to help interested bright students. Make sure your professors know your name. Try to sign up for upper division seminars and graduate level classes whenever possible. The professor usually has to sign an extra admittance slip. The workloads in these “harder” classes are usually less and as the lowly undergraduate less will be expected out of you. This is the perfect opportunity to really shine just like Psy (he really can’t dance). Get labeled the bright industrious kid in the class and don’t be surprised if your professors start recommending you apply for scholarship “X” or for “a job a friend of mine has over at company Y.” Companies, graduate schools, politicians and rock stars always keep up their college contacts.
Networking Using an Internship or an Entry Level Job
Everyone starts somewhere, even those born into Gangnam. Instead of barista or any number of other fun but going nowhere college jobs apply for jobs in your chosen field where you can meet future employers. One of the best ways to do this is through a paid internship. Another great networking opportunity is to get on the lists of several temporary agencies. The advantage here is you will get to work directly for companies and get a sense of different working environments, jobs and required skills. Moreover, you will meet professionals who may be very helpful to you when you get out of school. In addition, the pay is usually more and you can often schedule your hours around your studies.