1. Have an idea of what field you want to go into
To me, this is so important to being successful in your future career. The sooner you have a good grasp of what you want to do, the more ability you have to guide your future. I know this is a tough task to master as a senior in high school that’s going into college, but even having the slightest idea of what field you want to go into will truly impact your college career. I knew that I wanted to go into journalism, but I did not know what field to be exact. I ended up getting a B.A. in journalism and a specialization in magazine services and an art minor.
2. Make sure your college has the field of study you ACTUALLY want to go into
When I was looking at schools, I was in search of a fantastic journalism school. I remember looking at Mizzou, Drake, some universities in Texas and of course, Ole Miss. I was so impressed with the journalism and integrated marketing communications program when I visited in spring of my senior year of high school. Now, looking back I am so thankful I choose Ole Miss; not only for the countless opportunities it has given, but also for the exposure it gave me. Sure, I could have attended NYU or Rhode Island College of Design for my undergrad, but would I have stood out? Or would I have just been a number? Make sure you are picking a school based on your career goals, not just for a the party scene or the weather. Choose a school that you feel will challenge you and give you optimal exposure.
3. Actively seek out and take every opportunity that comes your way
Learn to say “yes” way more. For me, this is my greatest and weakest attribute. But point blank: it gets me places.
I have learned to try and always say “yes” to any related opportunity that comes your way. I can attest that this is my best attribute because it gets me more jobs, more internships, more credibility and more opportunities all-around. Then again, I can also see where this is my worst attribute because I am “too busy.” I agree with both statements. Yes, I am busy, but I enjoy being busy. If you are a go-getter, practice saying “yes” more, especially if you know you can get the job done. If your boss says that he needs you to stay later and do a little extra clean up, then gladly say yes! If your internship supervisor does not have the time to update his or her calendar or prep for a meeting, take the time to do it yourself. Going the extra mile will always pay off. You may not see results right away, but in the long run, you are only benefiting yourself.
Disclaimer: Prepare to be “too busy” and slightly overwhelmed.
4. Exposure is key
No matter what field of study you go into, get your name out there and be known. The more your name is used and seen, the more exposure you get. I know it sounds simple, but so many college students do not see the significance that exposure plays into their future career. I started my own blog and graphic design business called MadisenTheobald.com, and I truly believe that the exposure I have recieved from my small business has given me a name for myself. For exposure, you must bust your butt to get the recognition you deserve. Realize exposure does not come easy, you have to really work for it.
5. Get to know your professors and make sure they know who you are
Don’t become lost in the sea of faces. A healthy, engaging relationship with your professors is essential to having a good collegiate and post grad experience. Think of your professors as life mentors. They have been through the exact stuff you are going through. They have seen the endeavors and successes students deal with daily. They know the answers to our many, repetitive questions. Come to them with interest and they will help you in return.
6. Shake your pom poms for school involvement
Don’t forget about school involvement. Get involved in as many school clubs as you can. Whether it is joining a sorority, the student council, the gospel choir or some honors societies, having a leadership role in clubs at your university makes you STAND OUT! Don’t just pay the fee and become a #basic member, be a go-getter. Run for VP, treasurer or even social chair, the commitment is nothing compared to the final results you can put on that resume.
7. Strive to meet ALL deadlines
The biggest #majorkey of them all. Respect deadlines.
I am in awe of the amount of students that show up to classes with blank homework and unfinished projects. Don’t be this person. Be reliable and accountable. Start practicing accountability early in your college career, so that when you do apply for jobs you know the amount of work you can and can’t take on. Deadlines are so important in the workforce that they need to be heavily emphasized in college. To me, a deadline is a deadline. So leave that light on a little longer, brew that coffee a little stronger and stay up to get the job done.
8. Do not underestimate the importance of internships
Most college students just do one internship, why stop there? Let me start by saying, I had eight internships in my undergrad at Ole Miss. No, I am not trying to impress you or make you feel bad. I am here to tell you that IT IS POSSIBLE! It is possible to work hard, have a social life and still get good grades. You just have to be willing to work for it. Internships are so important to a young adult’s learning process. You will learn such valuable life skills, tips and more about that workforce than you could ever imagine by taking an internship. Most schools will offer you school credit for just about anything related in your field, all you have to do is ask! So pack on the internships and join the #hustle.
9. Make your four-year plan
Start your freshman year. Grab your core curriculum sheets that your advisors hand out, a pen, paper and get to planning. Every semester in college, I scheduled an appointment with my advisor one-on-one just so I could make sure I was on track. Map out all the general studies that are required and toss in some major classes starting your freshman year. The longer you push back starting your career classes, the more behind you will get. You do not want to be getting into your major classes as a junior at a four-year university. You want to sprinkle in some of your major classes or interests while you are young, so that you can discover sooner rather than later whether this is the correct career choice for you.
10. Utilize social media to your advantage
Keep your social media clean and professional. I, too, have been to jam-packed foam parties and rowdy rave mixers that left me covered in glow-in-the-dark gunk and a cracked iPhone screen, but all of that does not need to be seen by the general public, especially future employers. Put your best face forward on social media. I am not saying you can’t look like you are having fun, but do not make it look like you are “all play” and “no work.” No matter what major or career path you choose, realize that your friends, family and employers have all eyes on you. Showcase your designs, research projects, internships in a brighter light. Share your accomplished works on Twitter with Bitly links, Facebook and of course, LinkedIn. Show people what you’ve got via social media with confidence and positivity. Show them that you are their best candidate just by the creative bio on your Instagram profile.
Morale of my Successful College Career rant: Go out there with a game plan in mind, in pictures and in-person, and knock em dead every SINGLE chance you get.
Visit MadisenTheobald.com for more of my work.