25 Things Students MUST Do In College (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)
I speak to college students and recent grads about how they can get their dream jobs and achieve success after college. Given that I am usually only speaking for 60-90 minutes, time limitations prevent me from telling the audience everything I wish I had known when I was a student.
Therefore, I took some time and identified a list of 25 things every student should do while in college to position himself/herself for success and happiness after college.
If you are reading this and you have already graduated from college, please keep reading because this list will help you regardless of your age! Just start doing these 25 things now, one by one. I guarantee that you will achieve more success and happiness if you can incorporate these 25 things into your life after college:
- Lead. Take on a leadership position for an organization on-campus or off-campus. Leadership skills are gold for your career, and they build confidence and strong communication skills.
- Travel/Study abroad. By spending time in new places, you will build your confidence, open your mind, have fun, and meet interesting people. One of my biggest regrets is that I did not study abroad in college.
- Donate your time. Volunteering for a cause that matters to you will make the world better, make you feel better about yourself, and make you more marketable to employers who will see you as a quality person.
- Do some dirty work. Working a menial job that requires physical labor will build work ethic and character and make you more appreciative when you move up. Or, it might help you realize that you like dirty work…
- Join a professional association. The best way to break in to an industry is to join an industry association as a student. You’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with people in the “real-world” who could hire you later on and/or who can introduce you to others who can. This strategy helped me get my dream job to work in the NBA when I was 21!
- Start your own organization/club. It will build your confidence, lead to new relationships, and strengthen your communication and leadership skills. Employers will be very impressed by this initiative.
- Blog. Start a blog at yourname.wordpress.com on any topic you are passionate about; just keep it respectable. Write at least one 500-word, high-quality entry each month. A well-written blog will really impress potential employers and it will build your writing skills.
- Speak. Find a Toastmasters club in your area and/or take a public speaking course. The ability to speak confidently and competently in front of others is one of the most impressive skills a young professional can possess. This will also increase your confidence exponentially.
- Start a rolodex. Your personal and professional relationships will be your greatest asset in every area of your life. Start cultivating them as early as you can. Think of your network like a garden that you take pride in maintaining and growing.
- Choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people with strong character, good attitudes, and similar values. Your success and happiness will be directly related to the people you hang out with most.
- Reflect weekly. Set a weekly 1-hour appointment with yourself to go somewhere quiet and reflect on your life. Make sure you are headed where YOU want to be, not where others think you should be. If you are headed down the wrong path in any area of your life, identify some steps you can take to change directions immediately.
- Strengthen your body. Exercise at least 3-4 times a week, and feed your body the right way. A strong, healthy body will give you more energy, more confidence, and lead to better performance in every area of life. Click here for tips on how to avoid the 9 major nutritional sins most Americans make.
- Nourish your mind. Read uplifting material for at least 15 minutes EVERY day, and stop watching shows like The Jersey Shore. Superficial TV shows are like cheeseburgers for your mind. They make you “mentally obese!”
- Create your rules. Take 1 weekend afternoon and establish 5-10 “rules” for how you will live your life. Look over your rules each morning and night. This keeps you on track. Here are 5 of my rules for my life:
- To always do the right thing, no matter what
- To support, appreciate, and encourage everyone I interact with
- To pursue my dreams despite any doubters or obstacles
- To make my mind and body as pure and strong as possible
- To take full accountability for my life and make changes when necessary
- Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Everyone has heard that goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based), but that’s not sufficient. Make them “S.M.A.R.T.E.R” by also recognizing the E.R. (“exciting reason”) for setting the goal. Losing 10 pounds by next summer is a S.M.A.R.T. goal, but losing 10 pounds by next summer so that you will feel better about yourself at the beach is a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal. Which do you think is more motivating? “Exciting reasons” are essential for goal achievement.
- Intern. Do an internship each year in college. Click here for 11 reasons why this is important.
- Study outside your major. After checking with your academic advisor to make sure this is allowed, take at least 1 course each semester not related to your major. You might realize another subject interests you more than your current coursework. Either way, you will open your mind.
- Join LinkedIn.com. Create a professional profile on LinkedIn (click here for tips), start building your professional network, and join LinkedIn groups relevant to your career aspirations so that you can learn more about your field and meet people who already work in it.
- Clean up your Facebook page. Remove any questionable pictures, comments, quotes, or wall posts on your page. Employers make judgments about you based on what they find online.
- Identify your passions. Find out what gets you excited. Make sure you pursue a career connected to your passions.
- Identify your talents. Pay attention to what comes easily to you. Make sure you pursue a career where you will be able to use those strengths on a daily basis.
- Rise early. Make yourself a morning person. There is no greater feeling than starting the day when most people are still sleeping. Yes, this means you probably have to go to bed earlier.
- Count your blessings often. Spend a few minutes right when you get up and right before bed to acknowledge everything you are thankful about. It’s easy to lose track.
- Grow. Complacency is the enemy of greatness and happiness. Acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments, but always keep challenging yourself and trying to get better. Get out of your comfort zone as much as possible.
- Love yourself. If you don’t like who you are, nothing else matters. Success and happiness in life starts with appreciation for yourself!
Do you want to create your ideal life after college? Then, start doing these 25 things NOW!
-Career Expert and Professional Speaker
-President of Idealize Enterprises
P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide. To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.