Here are a few ways to prepare for the upcoming semester:
1. Plan Out Your Route
2. Create A Budget
3. Research Your Classes and Your Professors
4. Order Your Books
Summer is notorious for college students to “take a break” from school, chill out a little, and relax after having relatively high stress levels. But, sometimes we can get a little too laid back, not realizing that even though it’s summer, we still have homework. Yes, homework during the summer – and I’m not talking about summer school (but that does count too!). No matter if you’re a senior, freshman, junior, sophomore, or recently graduated – it’s crucial to always be focusing on the future of your academics and career, even when you are in need of a serious life-pause.
This is a strategy a lot of people in well-known positions use, including celebrities. Get a bulletin board and pin to it all the places you want to be able to go, all the things you would like to do, and pictures of what you want your life to look like. Every time you see it, you’ll feel that little spritz of motivation to keep focused and stay strong. It’s a good reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Since you’re on Twitter and Facebook most of the time anyway, put that time to good use and find social groups and accounts to follow that support 20-somethings trying to find their way. Type in a few keywords, such as “college,” “postgrad,” “motivation,” and you’re on your way. Not hooked into social media? Type those same words into Google to bring up a variety of local support group you can join for meetings. You can share your struggles and successes with each other, share resources, and network.
Create a list of all the things you have accomplished thus far. It’s super easy to get stuck in that rut of negative thinking by focusing on all the things you have to do, things you haven’t done, and things you should have done by [insert age here]. Change this around and make a list once a week of things you’ve accomplished, no matter how small. Tried a new meal at a restaurant? Add it to the list. The little accomplishments will measure how well you’re progressing. In addition, whenever you catch yourself in the rut of that negative thinking, stop yourself and replace it with a hopeful, optimistic thought.
Depending on your major, a portfolio is a crucial piece to have on hand for interviews, or for handing over to a career advisor at your university. A second pair of eyes never hurts, and if you already have one going, add to it, update it, and keep it fresh. Taking a look at it periodically is another great reminder of what it is you’re working toward.
Is there someone in particular you strive to be like? Reach out to interview them, find out how they got where they are, and draw your inspiration from your new muse. Can’t get there contact information? Look for someone who has a position similar. Make sure when you ask them about their job, you find out how they stayed motivated. It never hurts to gain new ideas.
A resume is the very first impression you make on any possible future employers. Before you even have a chance to charm your interviewer with your wit and humor, they have to first like your resume. Therefore, it is crucial that your resume is impressive, professional, and on-point. Don’t make silly mistakes that can potentially cost you a job.
This is the number one mistake that job applicants make that has a huge impact on a resume review and yet can be so easily avoided. Make sure to read your resume over several times before sending out a final copy. Then after you’ve read it, have a friend read it over too in case you missed anything. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Although it’s usually okay to embellish a little bit about your responsibilities at previous jobs, do not put down blatant lies. If you do not know how to use certain computer software that the job you are applying for requires, don’t say you do know how to use it in the hopes of figuring it out if you get the job! This will not work and you will just end up looking like a liar and feeling embarrassed. Then your whole overall value as a reliable employee will be tarnished, and may even cost you the position.
If you are a recent college graduate, you are probably desperately applying to 20 different jobs each day, so your natural instinct may tell you to simplify this process by creating a generic resume that you can quickly send out that generalizes your skills to apply to all of the jobs you are applying for. Do not do this. It is tempting because it is easy, but make the time to tweak your resume to be specific to each job that you apply for. Use the same key words from the posted job description to fill into your resume. The person reviewing your resume will see you obtain all the skills required for the job and may ask you to come in for an interview. It is more beneficial to send out 8 resumes that are more personalized and detail-oriented, than to send out 20 cookie-cutter resumes.
More information is not always the best. Using superfluous words and rambling just to fill space on the page does not indicate more experience for the job. It may actually do more harm than good. It’s good to keep a resume short to the point. As the saying goes, quality is better than quantity.
Resumes should be clean, not crumbled, typed in black ink (unless you are applying for graphic design), with consistent font face and size. Your resume should not only read as professional, but should also look that way as well. It should be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also nothing crazy. Use traditional formatting and make sure it is easy to read. When in doubt, clean and simple is the best way to go.
Put some effort and time into your resume each time you apply for a job. You may be anxious (that’s normal) to just applying to any job you come across that looks decent, but don’t just throw yourself into applying without taking the time to present yourself in the best light for the position. Your resume is your golden ticket to get called in for an interview, so be sure to treat it as an important step in the application process!
Some people handle finals better than others, but for the majority of the college student population this is an incredibly stressful time. Time after time again, I have seen my peers work themselves into a state of perpetual anxiety induced by their fears over the outcome of their finals. They either feel that they have not studied enough, worry they studied the wrong material, or they let their procrastination get the best of them. But, when students obsessively worry about their finals, it can have detrimental effects. Some students find it harder to focus on individual tasks because of the sheer overwhelming amount of work constantly dividing their attention; some can’t sleep or force themselves to stay awake for unhealthy amounts of time; some turn to unhealthy decisions like Adderall (which should only be taken in small doses and only if prescribed by a doctor), which can cause liver damage and even addiction.
Finals can be stressful, but there are ways to overcome this challenge and walk away with pride.
I have struggled with anxiety in the past until I became a lazy and unmotivated teenager. I still struggle staying motivated to do my work, but I have come to realize that by being more laid back and not worrying so much about the material, I actually began to improve on my test and essay scores. I could more easily recall the information I had learned in class or studied for homework just by being more calm and collected. Then this brought confidence. If you feel that you are overwhelmed and drowning in work, take a break. Take a moment to think, reflect, breathe, and then plan out how you are going to approach your workload. Once you break it down on paper and have a solid plan, that Mt. Everest of work and responsibility is diminished to nothing but a bunny slope.
Simply telling yourself “everything is going to be ok” is not enough (but it helps with anxiety). You actually have to put in the work. Write down your plan of what you want to get done and how long it will take to accomplish. I like to write down my plan in a personal agenda or calendar, but plenty of people are more inclined to use their phones or tablets. In each box (day), I write down what I want to accomplish for that day and I mark the due date for assignments. For example, I may write in the box for 5/11 that I want to work on an introduction to an essay that is due Friday. I write in the Friday box what time the essay is due. I continue to break down the assignment throughout the week to make the assignment easier and less daunting. Having a specific plan and visualizing due dates can help to keep you on task and organized.
Finally, as mentioned before, don’t forget to take a break once in a while. Most experts agree that studying in 1 hour blocks with 15 minute breaks is the most effective way to study. That is not to say that you should follow this model perfectly. Sometimes when I am studying, I like to keep going even past an hour just to keep my momentum up. I generally just take a break once I start having difficulty focusing. This is a signal to me that my brain is tiring and can no longer stay on one task. No matter how long it takes you, once you start to feel brain-dead, take a quick break. Get up from your workstation to get a change of scenery and work your blood flow. Try to find something else that will engage your brain and/or body. Playing music, taking a walk, getting a snack, or talking to a friend are all great break-time activities. Just remember to keep it short. Sometimes a “quick break” can easily derail a perfectly good study session.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep. The brain simply cannot function at full capacity when it is sleep deprived. This will just make things harder for yourself. Avoid late night cram sessions and definitely do not pull an all-nighter, no matter how desperate you may be to study material. You will be guaranteed to crash during your exam if you do. Sleep actually helps memory function and helps to keep focus, which are things that are definitely needed for finals.
Always remember that if you don’t get your desired grade on a final, it is not going to ruin your life. Surround yourself with positivity. Listen to some feel-good music, hangout or study with your best friends, and always remember: everything is going to be okay. Everyone has the potential to do well; never doubt your abilities. Just give your best shot at finals – giving anything less than your best, will only cheat yourself.
For those college seniors that will be graduating soon, you will soon be facing the real world made up of bills, expenses, and unforeseeable costs. Did I mention student loan payments? Like most college graduates, the next thing to achieve is a full-time job to ease these worries. Better yet – aim for the job you went to college for in the first place, the job that will prove that getting your degree was worth it; reach to achieve your ultimate dream job.
Make sure to get your resume as perfect as you can. The key to a great resume is to make it appealing to the company you are applying to. Try not to overload your resume with information. Keep it simple and concise. The key is to highlight your accomplishments, the work you’ve done, and the extracurricular activities you’ve participated in. Look at some resume examples for comparison and make sure your resume stands out with maybe a hint of color, a unique design, or something that will catch the eye of the reviewer (but do not go too drastic because that will scare them away). Always proof-read! Nothing looks worse than representing yourself as a horrible speller (it’s simple mistakes that can really make a difference). Always have a few people look it over and ask for their input. Another good tip is to always put the same key words from the job description and listing into your resume so the reviewer will see you are qualified for the job at hand.
Social media is definitely a great resource to finding employment positions. Make sure to create a LinkedIn account because a lot of business professionals tend to look for candidates and post jobs here. LinkedIn is essentially a place to grow your network and to have your resume online for other business professionals to see (and evaluate if you would be a good fit for their team). Though social media can be a great source for finding employment, it can also hinder you from getting jobs if you have content that an employer could find questionable, such as inappropriate clothing, alcohol/drug use, profanity, etc. The best thing to do is to clean up your social media profiles (yes, all of them, they can all be found by a simple Google search) prior to applying to any jobs. Google search your name and see what you find. Would you hire yourself based off of what you saw?
Once you’ve landed an interview, now you have to dress to impress! The way you present yourself can make or break an interview. A potential employer usually decides within the first few minutes (based on your appearance, fair or not) if they are interested in you. You want to look presentable, professional, and as someone they can see working in their environment. Do your research on the company and see if they are more business casual or if they wear more business professional attire. Although, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Ladies, stray away from any skirts that are too short (anything more than 2 inches above the knee) or massive high heels. Avoid any clothing that may be too tight, too flashy, or too revealing. Keep it as neutral as possible with minimal jewelry. Guys, a nice button-up, dress pants, and shiny dress shoes will do the trick. Denim should absolutely n ever be worn to interviews. Ties and blazers are optional but definitely recommended if you want to make a great first impression. See the above photo for examples on what to wear for business professional and business casual interviews.
The interview is the most nerve-wracking part of the entire job hunting process. My best advice is to walk into the interview with confidence. Make sure you’ve done your research on the company and familiarize yourself with the type of work they do. This is definitely the time to talk yourself up, but at the same time do not sound overly confident. You want to stay relaxed and calm during the interview. Be as personable as you can and just have a conversation with the interviewer. Rehearse potential interview questions and answers the night prior so that you can mentally prepare yourself. It is a good idea to ask someone to do a mock interview for you so you can do a practice run. Make a great first impression by having a good, firm handshake (not too hard) at the start of the interview. Bring a portfolio of work samples to show the interviewer hands on what your experience is. At the end of the interview always have three question to ask the interviewer to clarify any concerns you may have, but to also show the employer your level of interest. Be sure to send a thank you note or email to your interviewer to leave a lasting impression. Feel free to follow up with the employer if a few weeks have passed and you haven’t heard back. However, keep in mind that sometimes filling a position can take a while and this may come across as too pushy to some. So just remember, patience!
Create a resume, set up a LinkedIn, clean up your social media accounts, dress professionally, prepare for an interview, and you will be that much closer to landing your dream job! Don’t get discouraged if you do not get the job right away, it may take several attempts before you get anywhere. Do not lose your confidence! Each time you apply for a job, you can learn what worked and what didn’t and use it towards applying for the next position. Once you land that job, you will truly have earned it!