Ever since the birth of my daughters, I’ve been obsessing over all the missed opportunities I had in college and in my post-undergraduate and then graduate life. Like most parents, I’ve wondered about how best to ensure that my children avoid my mistakes. My own mother used to plop down used books like Campbell’s Microwave Cooking and Better Home and Gardens Making a Home on the rickety dining room table of my first apartment and mail me newspaper clippings about budgeting and personal finance with little explanation or discussion. “I saw this and thought of you,” was all she ever said.
I hope to be a little more direct and a little more succinct with my guidance and so I’ve narrowed my recommendations down to one page, a bulleted list of 10 points:
Get a recommendation or reference from every positive volunteer, internship, and job experience that you have.
Chose volunteer or internship experiences that will build your professional network, teach you a new skill that you can add to your resume, or that have a strong potential for a post-undergraduate job opportunity.
Volunteer and internship experiences should be chosen that will help give shape, add substance, and make your resume more cohesive. Decide on a specific job or career path that you are interested in and work backwards. Ask yourself what experiences do I need to get this job? Then seek only those experiences that will help you secure that job.
Make sure that your references and recommendation letters are current (within the last 2-3 years) and inform your references that your potential employers will be contacting them.
Limit the amount of personal information and photos that you share on social media.
Get a professional (or professional quality) headshot taken for professional networking opportunities (i.e. social media, blogs, professional websites, conferences, etc.) Wear interview worthy attire for this photograph.
On campus student groups, activities, and housing provide great opportunities for meeting new friends, networking, and developing personal interests and hobbies.
Maintain a self-care regimen each week.
Exercise (with a friend if it helps to motivate you) at least three times a week to improve physical and mental health.
Eat nutritious meals and snacks.
Do an activity for at least one day each week that helps to relax or motivate you for the rest of the week.
Maintain your health
Get regular physical exams, eye screenings, and dental check-ups.
Get a flu-shot each year.
Invest in a personal stylist service that is within your price range.