If you’re reading this, I want to congratulate you. College graduation is a monumental life accomplishment that should make you proud. So I hope your summer so far has been filled with cool drinks and sandy beaches…
Because this article is about to make your summer a bit more serious.
I’m about to tell you five things you should be doing the summer after you graduate college… advice I wish someone had given me. After all, I did exactly zero of these things the summer after graduating in 2013, and I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes.
Send a Thank You Letter to Professors Who Made an Impact
This is by far my number one regret. I had some amazing professors during my time at SUNY Oneonta. Two of them even wrote amazing letters of recommendation for me. One of whom, Dr. Neville Choonoo, was in Nelson Mandela’s inner circle as a university student in South Africa. He fled Apartheid and established himself as a teacher, and eventually as a professor of African American Literature.
He had such a profound impact on me, and all I did was send him a generic thank you email for the letter of recommendation. Don’t make this mistake.
Send a thank you note written inside a nice card. In an age of increasingly digital communication, your professors will appreciate the thought put into this old-school gesture.
Develop a Professional Identity / Career Brand
You’ve likely heard about personal branding by now. Nearly every piece of career advice cites the importance of a personal brand in today’s job market.
I like to call this version of the personal brand, the career brand. Your career brand is how you convey your professional identity.
“But I just graduated! How am I supposed to know who I am professionally?”
I’m glad you asked. At this stage in your career, your professional identity is composed of the characteristics of your ideal professional self. It is more a visualization of who you aspire to be, rather than a caricature of who you already are professionally.
Doing some focused soul-searching this summer and developing a professional identity will make the next tips much easier.
Create a Skills Portfolio
I didn’t create a skills portfolio until I started working with my career coach around eight months ago. Being a liberal arts graduate, I had a hard time conceptualizing the skills I learned and relating them to skills desired by employers.
When I created a skills portfolio, assignments from my career coach included was to parse out the skills I’ve acquired while earning a Bachelor’s in English with a Minor in Communication studies.
The skills started flowing. Public speaking. Analytical thinking. Ability to synthesize data and organize ideas. Written communication skills. It was only when I made a skills portfolio that I realized I had skills employers desired.
Once you have a professional identity, do a self-audit of the skills you possess. Create a master list and use it to pull from when tailoring your resume to each specific job opening.
Develop Your LinkedIn Profile
When I graduated in 2013, the importance of LinkedIn hadn’t yet dawned on me. I naively thought social media had little relevance in the job search. Fast-forward to 2016 and I have eaten my hat and then some.
It wasn’t until April of 2014, nearly a full year after graduation, that I started to take LinkedIn seriously. I created a profile and joined a bunch of groups for writers.
One day, I saw a post in one of these groups calling for content writers interested in a paid internship. I responded to the message, and after a phone interview, I got the internship.
The lesson here is that having an active LinkedIn presence can lead to job opportunities.
Develop a Professional Twitter Presence
You know LinkedIn has the reputation of being the social network for professionals. But what about Twitter? I’ve had a Twitter account on and off since 2009, but it wasn’t until April of 2015 that I created a new account with the sole purpose of developing my professional presence as a writer.
Twitter is still the best social media platform for having conversations and building relationships with total strangers. Twitter chats are amazing for interacting with like-minded individuals on a given topic. I’ve had a handful of writing opportunities materialize from my Twitter relationships, which all started through interacting in a Twitter chat.
If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat, I recommend you start with #InternPro on Mondays at 9PM ET.
It’s not too far after college graduation to get started. Jump in. And give your career a big head start… with no regrets.
About the Author: Brett Pucino is a multi-passionate millennial with an interest in career branding, content marketing, and personal development. He has authored over 500 articles as a ghostwriter for clients on three different continents, and also contributes to a handful of blogs in the millennial space. In addition to his writing career, Brett is also establishing himself as a career brand consultant under the mentorship of Jay R. Lang; executive coach and author of Breakthrough! How to Get Hired in Today’s Tough Job Market.