Student branding for success

As a student, this is how to stand out from the pack.

With the normal demands of class, work and other aspects of student life, it’s easy to not think ahead about graduation or what the future holds. Yet, if you wait until graduation to start thinking about your future career, you’re behind. Come graduation day, you’ll be in the same place as thousands of other students with the same goals, mindset, etc. How will you stand out from the pack?

A personal brand will help you — and the earlier you start thinking about your brand, the better. There are a few important steps involved with creating your brand.

First, identify a short list of characteristics, accomplishments, etc. that you want to be known for. Think about what makes you different and stand out from everyone else, and write them down in sentence form. Then, in conversations with hiring managers or anyone else, highlight and reinforce those key points. For example, in many industries, having a passion in something other than your chosen trade can enhance your value to potential employers.

Second, be accessible, curious and interested. I often speak to classes and student groups on campus, and I’m always struck by how few students attend, speak up or follow up. By simply showing up, asking good questions, requesting business cards and following up, you will stand out from others around you and improve your chances of securing interviews, meetings, referrals and more. You also will build relationships and expand your network — which are as important to getting a job as anything else.

Third, students should join relevant professional organizations on campus, such as the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Business Law Association or numerous others. Participation will present opportunities to learn from and network with peers and professionals in your field of interest. For example, students interested in communications are invited to a Meet the Media panel Oct. 31. Attendees will meet staff from major news outlets in the Twin Cities and network with members of the state’s pre-eminent public relations trade organization, Minnesota PRSA.

Best of luck with everything, and remember that personal branding and job searching are like most anything else — you get out what you put in.