I think back to 16 year old Elle, and if I really would have taken advantage of a book that told me what to look forward to when I went to college. I still haven’t figured out the answer, but had I been given an article with at least 5 things that were necessary I think my experience would have been even greater.
So here are 5 things that are necessary:
Attire. There are important garments that we all should have in college. Something I always preach is before you have a physical business card you are your business card. Someone may not remember your name but they will remember how you looked. So it is extremely important that you have these things. A nice tailored suit would be a good investment for career fairs, interviews, and convocations. It will set you apart from the people with slacks and a blouse. A nice solid color formal dress is needed for functions held at your school that includes alumni and other benefactors. Please stray away from multipurpose club/church pieces, it sends the wrong message in these settings. A nice pair of black pumps says a lot about a women. It shows that she’s mature and that she means business. Stay away from wedged or platform pumps as much as possible. Those shoes can be used for more casual affairs. A nice pair of small gold or silver earrings with a matching necklace are great jewelry pieces. This keeps you in the safe zone especially if you consider pledging, you do not want to show up at a sorority event draped in diamonds or pearls.
College Conferences. I learned so much in the past few years about how there were all of these wonderful conferences being held around the world for college students while I was in school. Some were tied directly to organizations such as fraternities and sororities, and others were specific to the industries in which students wished to enter upon graduation. Take South by Southwest for example, it’s been around since 1987 and it’s designed to help creative people achieve their goals. It’s the perfect place to network, pitch ideas, and develop professionally. Find a conference specific to your major, you can’t go wrong attending.
Internships immediately. Start interning as early as you can. Some people wait until it’s time to take the internship class before they start looking for internships. This is all wrong. Take as many internships as possible and understand you may not get paid for it. The real purpose of it is to give you experience in your field and help you fine tune your craft. Reach out to your dream companies to work for and volunteer your time. It could pay off tremendously when you graduate.
Make sure your professors know your name. When my stepfather dropped me off at school he said make sure all of your professors know your name. I thought to myself, yeah right, it’s too many students for that to happen. But I made it happen and it paid off because I was able to call on so many of my professors later in life for professional references or advice. And today I am able to return that favor by providing their students with internships and even writing letters of support for their tenure packets.
Joining meaningful organizations. I think all organizations have a purpose but I mean meaningful in the sense of what can it do for your future and what can you add to its mission. You can make life long connections and partnerships by joining the right organization. This is also an opportune time to see of you are a leader. So seek to take a leadership position in whatever organization you join. It is better to know now if you can deal with the pressure, than to spend your life hating a leadership role. I thought I was too cool for this in college and I slightly regret it today. I did enlist in the military while in college and the connections I formed there were life changing and helped me complete my undergraduate degree literally.
Don’t sweat the small things it’s a short term stay. These years will fly by, you will gain friends and you will lose friends. So cherish the moments you can and do not give power to things you cannot control. Have fun these are the years to do it- just not too much fun. Trust me I know!