About the Author: Alan Diamond is a 22-year-old Irish graduate that specializes in Marketing, PR & Event Management. He has both a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from separate leading higher education institutions in Ireland. He is currently volunteering for the Business Leaders for Obama – an organization that raises awareness for the re-election of President Obama this November.
Have you ever heard of the expression “don’t leave everything to the last minute”? Have you ever applied it to your career? A lot of people, myself included, had a part-time job through college to pay off the never-ending student loans, rent, or maybe it was just to pay for the end-of-year class holiday or whatever it may be.
Not until my junior year of college did I realize I could be combining what I was studying along with a part-time job to learn more about the industry I wanted to go into after I graduated. It started off when I was voted in as a project manager by a group of eight in my class where I had to organize, publicize and implement a successful fundraising event to raise much needed funds and awareness for a charity of our choice. It was my first real-life experience of what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” Before that, the only event experience I had were the times when I helped organize a friend’s birthday parties. But never had I sought sponsorship from companies, or organized a well-known MC for the event or other numerous tasks associated with organizing such an occasion. To say the least it was a success by both students and my lecture that was grading the event, and was so popular that the venue where it was held decided to run it as an annual event.
After this, my eagerness for organizing events and getting the word out to the public increased. For my final year of college, I transferred to a college in the capital of Ireland – Dublin – and managed to secure one of two internships with UNICEF. Instead of a paying unrelated part-time job, I opted to do this 9 month unpaid internship because this was inevitably what I wanted to do. During this internship I once again gained real life experience in the field of work I wanted to do once I finished college. The purpose of this blog entrant is to advise college students: don’t wait to graduate!
Below are some prime examples of what you should be doing during college.
- Intern! Intern! Intern! Try doing as many internships through your college career as you possibly can. The more the better but to show loyalty to an organization, I would recommend staying for at least 3 months at each company.
In the event management industry, there really is no excuse for getting involved with real event-related work before you graduate. There are a vast amount of events taking place in your area throughout the year that you can volunteer at, and put down on your resume under your voluntary experience section. Some students don’t include voluntary work on their resumes or LinkedIn profile because they don’t think it warrants space, but it does and employers like to see this. Non-profits are a great place to start for voluntary positions but don’t always limit yourself to these organizations; include local companies too. One of my friends had a “social media” internship in college. Although her only task was replying to people’s questions on the company’s Facebook page, she still received a great reference after she completed her time at the company and was able to include this on her resume.
- Make connections & build professional relationships! Another thing people wait to do until after they graduate is to build connections – which is an invaluable part and a huge advantage of the brick and mortar college experience. Although LinkedIn was founded in 2003, it wasn’t until my final year of college, in 2012, that I set my account up and actively started using it to build industry connections with my peers and people in my industry. Now that the professional social media website is more popular, I recommend all college students beginning their freshman year to set up an account and build strong relationships that might come in use to you in the not-so-distant future. Connections are easy to make but its professional relationships that take longer to build; that’s a job in itself! Perhaps getting feedback on your style of resume from one of your favourite lectures might seem like something small to you, but once they read your resume, they might know someone that might be of use to you career-wise. And if not, they might advise you to change the way you phrase some things on your resume to help you come off more “professional.”
- Constantly update your professional profiles! This advice warrants being separate from the above tip because it doesn’t just apply to LinkedIn. Final year students are known for joining a lot of websites like Monster.com, Indeed.com etc. only a few weeks before they graduate in hopes of finding employment as soon as they finish college and then if they don’t, they forget to update these profiles – well, my advice is to constantly update them, and upload your resume with your most up-to-date information in case a HR person comes across your profile but you have since changed your number or email address.