Getting a four-year degree is a big accomplishment, but it’s no longer your guarantee to employment following graduation. Students now need to demonstrate academic excellence, community involvement, leadership capabilities, and complete multiple internships in order to set themselves up for success. It’s no secret that college students are busy, but there’s one more item they need to add to their to-do list: creating a personal brand. Here, learn six reasons why a personal brand is a must-have for every college student.
1. You learn more about yourself
Personal branding begins with a lot of reflection and self awareness, according to a recent article on Youngisthan. Take the time in school to explore your interests with a variety of courses. A well-rounded education is oftentimes appreciated by employers and it allows you to seek out your interests and career goals.
While you’re in school take advantage of career and vocational development programs on campus to help you better understand your strengths, qualities, and carer interests, especially if branding is new to you. A good understanding of yourself is the first step to a strong personal brand, and there is no better time to do this than as a college student.
2. You can use the resources available to you now
When you’re enrolled as a college student, you not only pay for your courses, but for the multitude of services available to you as well. Meet with your career counselor to make your cover letter and resume reflect your brand. Take advantage of the free leadership development and personal assessments they offer now while you have the opportunity. After all, you’re paying for it!
3. You can utilize your current network
During your time in school, make an effort to network and make connections with fellow students, professors, and faculty, suggests the Personal Branding Blog. Arguably, you will never again have the plethora of potential connections as you do in college. Plus, as a college student, making connections is so much easier than it is in the real world. Because professors and faculty members have both a multitude of connections and experience, devote your time to establishing strong relationships with a key few to use for recommendations and referrals to speak for your brand down the line.
4. It allows you to showcase your collegiate accomplishments
If you’re staying busy in school, you’re more than likely accumulating a lot of experience, skills, and knowledge related to your aspiring field. Document this now rather than pushing it aside. Whether it’s a course you found really applicable, a project you completed, or some work samples from your internship, collect these for future use in an application, to add to your portfolio, or to publish on your personal website.
5. It sets you apart from the pack
The recession may be over, but it’s still difficult to break into the job market with an entry-level position. Unemployment for young adults 25 and under is estimated to be double that for other working professionals, according to the Economic Policy Institute. A strong personal brand is a great way to set recent graduates apart from the pack. Besides developing an impressive grasp on yourself and your career goals, a good personal brand will do the talking for you and allow hiring managers to have a better idea of yourself and your aspirations.
6. It's a great way to express your internet prowess
The world is more digitalized than ever and the internet is simply changing how business is done. Chance are you’re a pretty internet savvy Millennial, like most are, but push yourself to take your skill to the next level. Brand your social media profiles, which are more often than not inspected by hiring managers and recruiters. Create and continue to produce quality content through a blog, which can demonstrate both your writing and communication abilities and demonstrate your personality, according to Uloop. And as always, continue to work on expanding your network on LinkedIn.
Most importantly, create a professional personal website to showcase your brand. As a college student, now is the perfect time to make a website for your personal brand. Utilize your campus’ technology center or find a computer science friend to help you out, or simply open a Squarespace account. It’s an extremely easy platform to use and you don’t have to know code to create a professional-looking website. Plus, you can acquire a yourfullname.com URL for optimal visibility. A website will allow you to further elaborate on your educational background and showcase your projects, work samples, and portfolios. Squarespace has won multiple awards for its aesthetics and user support and is the best choice for a branded website. Plus, it costs less than your Netflix account and will be an impressive asset in your upcoming job search.
What personal branding advice do you have for college students? If you're a current student, what strategies are you successful with? Share your insight with us and leave a comment below.