Starting your career in your early twenties is humbling, thrilling and completely intimidating. So how do you prepare? More importantly: how do you adult?
- Wow them
Go above and beyond to market yourself to future employers. We all know that it’s crucial to stand out, but how?
- Brand yourself via social media, your resume and job inquiry emails according to what makes you authentic and unique.
- Set up a Wordpress or Squarespace account and create an online portfolio featuring your best work from classes and internships. (Remember: quality over quantity - only include the projects you are proudest of!) Make sure you include context for each project, that way employers can easily see what the problem was and how you used strategic thinking to solve it.
- If you get stuck or don’t know how to begin your branding process, check out Violeta Nedkova’s blog for insightful and creative branding tips!
- Stay patient: You’re not going to land your dream job right away
At first, be humble. Start in smaller markets and take whatever you can get; don’t be picky. Search for “Communications” or “Marketing Intern” in your university’s different departments. Maybe the business school needs someone to run their social accounts. Or the art department needs help spreading awareness about an upcoming alumni event. Colleges are full of opportunities for young marketing/PR professionals, you just have to look. As you develop more skills and discover what you like and dislike, begin working your way up into larger markets. Try looking for internships with small local businesses in your college town. Working in-house or for a small marketing firm is a great way to develop a variety of different skills and work closely with key decision makers. But remember: it takes time to find what makes you happy and it’s just as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.
- Stay up to speed on industry news
I promise you that the trends and knowledge you absorb from staying up-to-date with news WILL come in handy. Reading the news gets your creative juices flowing and will surely lend you a hand when you brainstorm for your next campaign. It also helps for you to pick up PR and marketing jargon - language you aren’t always taught from simply attending college classes. Start with reading Forbes, HubSpot’s blog, Jeff Bullas’s blog and PR Daily.
- If possible, (literally) move out of your comfort zone
This summer, I had the opportunity to relocate from Oregon to Boston. Suffice it to say: it has been a life-changing experience. After just two months I’ve learned countless valuable lessons about marketing and media (in addition to Revolutionary War facts). Take advantage of being in your early 20s; many of us aren’t tied down to responsibilities yet. If you are able and willing, use your freedom to move out of the city, state or region you are originally from. You’ll learn new ways of doing business, network with different people and will gain a bigger sense of the industry while engaging in fresh ideas.
- Handle stress in a healthy way
Few people tell you how hard it is transitioning from student into corporate life. It’s okay to be scared; it’ll get better with time.
- Discover and use a healthy stress reliever method (e.g. kickboxing or meditation)
- Set boundaries with work to maintain a work-life balance.
- Don’t forget Aziz and Retta’s advice to “Treat ‘yo self” once in a while!