We all know the saying, "When opportunity knocks..."
Well, why don't we change things up a bit and knock on opportunity's door? I have recently realized that with hard work comes opportunity. As almost a senior in college, my four-year plan no longer fits on a full sheet of paper, but a Post-It note. Needless to say, I need to get it in gear and face the reality that it will soon be time for "real world" job applications and graduate school.
I have learned quite a bit during my college career about opportunity, and I want to share them with you brilliant millennial college students. Here are ten tips/keys to knocking on opportunity's door:
1. Hard work pays off: It is important to work hard. It seems so simple, but sometimes we get wrapped up in wanting to just wait for good things to come. With hard work comes opportunity; opportunity to move up in a job position, opportunity to present to others, or opportunity to meet really awesome individuals that will educate and inspire you. That sounds awesome, right? Yeah, I sure think so. But first you need to work for it.
2. Networking, networking, networking: I cannot stress networking enough. When you network with people, you get to connect with them on a personal level. Then, once you establish that relationship, when their colleague mentions a fantastic internship or job opportunity, you might be the first person that pops into their mind. Find what makes you unique and use it as your strength. Make yourself memorable. That hard work we mentioned... you can talk about that! It will make you stand out. You will be amazed at what opportunities arise when you know people.
3. Talk face to face: We live in a digital age, without doubt. It's so much easier to send an email or connect on social media. While these are all great ways to stay in constant contact with each other, nothing beats face time. Make a phone call and set up a time to meet over coffee. You don't even have to talk business! Get to know each other -- hey! -- sounds kind of like networking, right?
4. Review: Did you go to a really cool, locally owned store last weekend? Do they have a Facebook or website? Write them a review! I once wrote something as simple as "Great atmosphere. Great prices. Great people. Great products." The store owner then contacted me asking about a potential work opportunity. I was absolutely shocked! I wrote one little review and caught the eye of a business owner.
5. Have experience: Interning is a fantastic thing. Sometimes you get paid, sometimes you get course credit, but most of all, you gain real, hands-on experience. While an education is important, there is only so much you can learn from a textbook. Getting out there and getting your hands dirty will always have a pay-off in the long run.
6. Seek out your campus' career services office: This place has almost all of the answers. Need a résumé review? Don't know how to write a cover letter? Stuck searching for an internship? Need interviewing practice? Your campus career services office is the place to be. If you have no idea what I am talking about, drop what you're doing and go find it.
7. Clean up your social media : Those house party pictures from freshman year that you're still tagged in- yeah, you should take those off. Employers look at all social media because it gives a real insight to how a person is. Let's be honest, we all social media creep on people, and boy do you learn a lot! If you have to question it, you should probably delete it. #CleanItUp
8. Appearance : You can never be over-dressed. It's better to show up to a networking event or an interview in a suit than in something that may be sub-par. Worse case scenario, you have to slither out of those dress pants or heels later. Also, know the difference between business casual, business and formal attire. Pinterest has awesome info-graphics and outfits for inspiration!
9. Preparedness : Kind of hand-in-hand with appearance, but it is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Have a business card or résumé handy in case you need to quickly give one out. Also, when meeting with businesses or organizations, do your research. The more you know about a company, the better. This creates a lasting impression and has often allowed me to discover different opportunities as well!
10. Get involved : Not ready to take on that internship? Don't have time for a full-time job? No problem! Getting involved on campus in a variety of departments allows you to meet different people. I have become actively involved on my campus and I have created relationships with deans, directors, vice-presidents, and the president of the college. Many times different clubs on campus have committees or office positions that need filled! Branch out and put yourself out there!
Now, cohorts, be proactive and take charge of opportunity!
Follow Vanessa Dunne on Twitter: www.twitter.com/V_Dunne