The new year never fails to bring me back to the smell of freshly purchased books and the joys of picking out new stationery. Now I’m no longer enjoying such moments I can’t help but think of how I could have maximised my school experience further than I already did. Not being one to live with regret, I created a guide for the next person who would want to make every moment in university count.
1. Work when no one is looking
Taking part in classroom discussions and handing in assignments on time is excellent for your academic achievement but isn’t the make or break when it comes to building your career.
With the accessibility of the Internet, you can now build a platform (and more importantly, an audience) for yourself while in university. A social media account is perfect for people to get a glimpse into what you’re into outside of your industry and gives people a chance to engage with you (being free of cost). However, a website (you have to buy the domain name and to host depending on your preference) is your private space on the Internet dedicated to all things you. It should have an about me section, your work and your contact information allowing yourself the chance to connect with those interested in what you do.
- When networking, you don’t want to be apart of the countless students that professionals meet on a day-to-day basis through cold e-mails and networking events. Starting to think of your brand and identity early gives you the upper hand with creating a lasting impression and being taken seriously by other professionals and companies.
- Think of yourself as a brand and design your website with specific colours, images and fonts in mind. Branding can then be used throughout your social media and promotion (business cards are always an excellent place to start.)
- Start working on your career outside of the university will help you start to figure out a work/life balance that works for you.
2. Define yourself
With so many opportunities and niches available in each industry, it’s easy to dip your hand in them all. Just keep in mind that no one wants to work with a jack-of-all-trades, and having a defined role will allow you to start the journey of becoming an “expert”. Being an expert is more than just doing one discipline and known for it. It requires putting in your 10,000 hours and lending a hand to others who can benefit from your expertise.
- University is the perfect time to test different roles within an industry as you have less pressure on having to succeed at them all.
- Being deemed an expert is a profitable job as many clients are willing to give you creative freedom and pay more if you provide a service/product that no one else can.
- Everyone remembers the person that helps them, being apart of other people’s journeys is a great way to experience new things and build new relationships.
3. People make people money
Keep your eyes peeled for talks/meetups and make sure that you have a business card and elevator pitch ready to give those you meet the best version of yourself. Be sure to take down the first and last names and e-mail addresses of all the people you meet to ensure that you can remain in contact with them even if they don’t make the first move.
- After you meet up with people save their contact to your e-mail address book, mobile phone and contact journal. Follow them up with introduction e-mail then wait.
- Once you have new work available on your website, send all your contacts a personal e-mail with a brief reminder of how you meet, what you’ve been up to and a link to your work. Showing all your contacts (especially newer ones) that you’re actively working and you’ll be surprised what response this gets from others within your industry.
These three tips worked for us, and we know that you can use them for yourself even if you’re not in university anymore. Remember, as long as you have a goal, belief and are willing to work hard every day, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
Article by Shaneika Johnson-Simms
Photography by Raphael Boamah-Asare