How to Start Professional Development ASAP

As a freshman, everything was scary. I was intimidated by a lot of things on campus, and often talked myself out of many things “because I’m just a freshman.” DON’T DO THIS. You came to college ultimately for one thing: to get a degree, to get a job. There are SO many distractions at college, it can be pretty easy to forget this. While your first semester can be overwhelming, it’s also a great time to branch out. My best advice: join clubs that interest you. Whether they be specifically for professional development, intramural sports, or just something you enjoy, get involved. Having experiences on your resume that show you’re well-rounded and care about things other than school will get you far.

Try and get leadership positions. I’m on the executive board for my sorority and every time I’m in an interview I get asked about it. They want to see what challenges I’ve faced, how I’ve handled being in a leadership role, and what I’ve done to make improvements for my organization. None of it ever has anything to do with the position I’m interviewing for, but it always sparks good conversation and shows what I’m capable of handling. Even if you think you’re not totally qualified or don’t know what you’re doing (like me), go for it anyway. You’d be surprised what other people see in you.

Next tip: go to your career center. I may be slightly biased because I work at mine, but I think they’re an invaluable resource. From internship searching to resume reviewing to career planning, they pretty much have everything you need. Why not take advantage of the office with the goal of helping you find a career you love? Seems silly to me. And don’t think you can’t go as a freshman. The sooner you start, the better.

Last tip: take advantage of any opportunity related to what you want to do. I want to work in Public Relations, so I joined the public relations group on campus as a freshman and got involved with a student-run PR firm as a sophomore, kind of on a whim. It was crazy intimidating, and most people were juniors or seniors, but I learned so much and it definitely helped me land the internship I have now. My point is, anything that can help you learn those transferable skills will be valuable. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and put yourself out there. College is one of the few times in life where it doesn’t really matter (to an extent) if you have an epic fail, so take advantage of that while you can.

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