College kids: Listen up.

A few weeks ago, AAF Mizzou was coming into my office on an 'agency tour' of Saint Louis.

It got me thinking about my own path, and where I ended up. I basically have my dream job. I create content (aka blog) about marketing and social media. I proof (aka correct) copy that goes out in print. I tweet. I facebook. I read. I comment. I couldn't ask for anything more.

But I never expected to end up here. I thought I would get a job in some business casual, 50+ employee office where they would put me through all kinds of training to do my job. I thought I would be answering emails and phone calls all day (wearing dress pants and heels, mind you).

And there is nothing wrong with that (I love dress pants and heels). I honestly think if I had found a job like that I would've liked it, I would've been happy (but ironic sidenote, as I was typing that I kept typing 'wouldn't' instead of 'would've.' Hmm, subconscious?).

Anywho... sorry I just went off on a tangent about how great my job is. I do that a lot (seriously, ask my friends). The whole point of this post is that when AAF Mizzou came in, I was worried one of these over eager J-school kids (oh shut up you guys, you know it's true), would ask me for advice or something. So I started to brainstorm.... And it came down to this:

Get online. Do work. Have fun.

Simple. Tweetable. Up for interpretation/discussion.

Get online.
Colby (an active member of AAF Mizzou actually) blogged about this a while back and it is so true. Why don't kids get it? I know so many people who won't blog or get on Twitter because it is too trendy. Well, guess what? I found my job on Twitter. I am willing to bet you I got my job because of Twitter (and my other online profiles/blogs). When you Google me, you see social media profiles and blog posts and comments. The same is true when you look me up on Pipl.

What do employers see when the Google you? If you had the opportunity to manipulate that, wouldn't you? I saw this article today about you and your personal SEO and it totally rang true. So what are you waiting for? Get an online resume. Join some social networks. Blog, or at least comment on other blogs.

Along those same lines, you need to set up some sort of blogroll. Bookmar some links, use Google Reader, use Snakcr, whatever it takes. Follow some blogs that fit with your industry. Read articles from magazines/newspapers that coincide with you inerests. What you need to know about the 'real world' you probably aren't going to learn in class.

And newsflash- soon you won't even have class anymore. Having those trusted resources set up in advance will help you continue your education beyond college.

Do work.
And I'm not just talking about internships (although, those will help). I did not have an internship in college. I did not study abroad. I didn't even have a real, paying job. But that doesn't mean I didn't work hard.

I got really involved in my sorority (and no, I am not at all embarrassed to admit that). I didn't just paint stuff or dance or buy tshirts or go to soccer games (although that stuff is all really fun).  I participated. I took on leadership roles. I went to pretty much every event. I networked. I tried to make it better. (Notice that all that applies to any organization you join.)

And it wasn't just that. Any J-schooler knows that we are pretty much slave labor for places like KOMU, KBIA, The Missourian, Newsy, etc. Does it suck sometimes? Yes (try working 1pm-1am shifts at KOMU... on Thursdays). But even if you aren't interested in that particular field you are going to learn a ton from the experience. Trust me, in the end, it's all worth it.

And besides going to class (because that often conflicts with my #3 piece of advice), you have to do some work on your own to educate yourself. I know that sounds miserable, but this is the one thing I wish I had done more of in college. Those free classes that teach you flash or photoshop or whatever? Take some. Those speakers that come through campus? Go to them. Getting your butt there probably sucks, and it won't seem worth it, but (I bet) you will actually enjoy the experience.

Have fun. 
For being the simplest piece of advice, this is probably the hardest one to follow (or if you're like me, it's maybe too easy).

Here's the thing. You're only in college young once. Take advantage of it. Here are some scenarios:
  • Your friends are going to the winery. You have class at 2pm. Skip it. 
  • It's a beautiful sunny day. Grab a trops and drive to the big tree in McBaine. 
  • You have class at 8am tomorrow morning. It's your friend's birthday. Go out. 
  • It's St. Patrick's Day
I'm not saying never go to class (I did try that once, and it didn't work out too well for me). But give yourself a break every once and a while. Don't skip out on those big moments you are going to remember forever just because you have to go doodle in your notebook for an hour while your professor lectures. And if going to class is something you absolutely must do, make plans to meet you friends afterwards. 

Trust me. I'm not saying my college career was perfect (although, it was pretty damn close). I might have the tinsey bit of regret for not studying abroad or having an internship, but there is nothing (repeat: nothing) I regret more than not spending more time sitting on the quad, lunching on patios, taking walks, driving around with my friends, etc. 

Just do it. 


chelsea said...

I agree with all of this, especially missing the occasional class to improve quality of life :)

my current boss was actually reading my blog during my job interview, and said that it was the reason I got the position. proof that it's not even necessarily the content of the blog that matters (although I'm sure my kanye knowledge was impressive) — it's all about consistent web presence.

Carlie said...

Gread advice! I wish I had been more into blogging and social media right out of college like you. I only just discovered how much I love it this past year!

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