As students, our wallets are used to being tight. While the costs of books and other educational expenses might leave our bank account crying, there are things worth investing in that can lend a hand in your professional development. If you want to land your dream job or internship, be prepared to save some money on the side for these five tools.
1. A professional headshot
I cannot tell you how many times I see a LinkedIn profile picture that is a selfie of the college student giving the peace sign, wearing casual clothes, or with a ridiculous filter. LinkedIn is a professional development website, one that many future employers look at when wanting to hire new employees. Avoid explaining the embarrassing party photo explanation by setting aside money to get professional headshots done for your professional social media profiles. You want to present yourself professionally, and plus, it makes fantastic Instagram pictures for later.
2. Business cards
College is full of events, and you’re going to meet a lot of people. Make sure you’re ready for it by ordering a pack of business cards. Since we’re students, our titles are limited. Be sure to include your name, what you’re studying, your expected graduation date, the name of your university/high school, and any leadership positions you might have, along with your regular contact information. You want people to remember you and use your card to contact you for potential opportunities with their projects.
3. A professional outfit
Whether you’re in Mock Trial and require professional wear for work or you’re a student trying to find a summer job, a professional outfit goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be fancy – a blazer, slacks and a collared dress shirt does just fine. Make sure you’re ready to rock your scholarship or job interviews by dressing nice and looking presentable.
4. A portfolio
College is infamous for all kinds of conferences happening all around the same time. Make sure you’re prepared to take meaningful notes by investing in a pad-portfolio that will allow you to hold your business cards, take important notes, and hold your pens. Plus, it looks super rad and you’ll be the coolest conference attendee around.
5. Tickets to a professional development conference
Whatever field that you are interested in, try attending a conference that will allow you to be surrounded with like-minded individuals. For example, since I am a public policy major, I decided to attend the California Democratic State Convention earlier this year, which allowed me to network with local and state officials about issues that mattered to college students. Make sure you have your business cards ready!
6. Public speaking class
Public speaking is something that terrifies many, but it’s hard to find a career where this isn’t necessary to learn. From Toastmasters to a local community college class, take the time to refine your public speaking skills and understand your strengths. Your instructor can provide a helpful letter of recommendation, and your peers can help you learn about ways you can improve your speech skills.
What do you stock up on to become better at networking? Let us know in the comments below!