Graduating from college is a huge step and one of the biggest life transitions you’ll ever make. When most college students graduate, they learn that without professors, syllabi, deadlines, and tests, it can be difficult to stay focused. You might even find yourself bored after work and unsure what to do with your extra time. The way to succeed through this transition is to maintain the momentum you’ve already built in school. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Solidify your personal brand
Your brand is your reputation, or what people think about you when you aren’t in the room. This is generally summed up in a few words or sentences (i.e., punctual, friendly, fashionable, professional, or dependable). These words can also be negative if you aren’t careful, so work hard to keep yours positive! You can solidify your brand by deciding what it is that you want people to think about you and then use your daily actions to support that brand. Think before you speak or act, and ask yourself does this solidify or help build my brand? If it does, do it! If it doesn’t, don’t do it. A few ways to help build your brand are to be responsible, work on your vocabulary, speak concisely (don’t ramble), and be forthcoming with your expressions of gratitude toward others. These are all wonderful examples of how a successful professional acts, and all of these actions will help you propel your brand and make you memorable for the right reasons.
2. Take it to the next level on your social media sites
If you aren’t using social media to build your professional brand, you are missing out on potentially the single greatest use of this tool! Social media should be your opportunity to go on the offensive for your brand and showcase your talents and strengths, not a place where you could potentially embarrass yourself or put your career in jeopardy. There are too many stories about people missing out on job opportunities or even getting fired due to social media blunders. Please let this scare you away from using social media as a personal playground. Remember that all things online are potentially public, regardless of your privacy settings, and you should post carefully and strategically to back up your goals. (Note: please don’t think about this as ruining social media—you can still have fun! Just have tasteful fun online and showcase the best version of yourself.)
3. Make yourself indispensable
Champion your boss and do everything you can to make their job easier. Try to put yourself in their shoes, to think like they think, and try to anticipate their needs. When you have an answer to a question or a project ready before they need it, you become the problem solver and go-to person. You should also always attempt to find the solution. If the printer is out of paper, don’t announce it—just fix it. If there is something missing in a project you are working on, or an omission in a report, fix it prior to your supervisor finding it. This will champion you as a team player, and people will want to work more with you. They’ll also want to promote you and give you more exciting projects!
These are some of the tips from our books (Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College and Life After College: 10 Steps to Build A Life You Love, out May 2014) that you can use to maintain your career momentum and achieve your professional goals. We’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below if you have other tips you think will help young professionals, or if any of these tips have worked for you!