It’s the beginning of January, and you know what that means – time to make some resolutions. Instead of promising to hit the gym more often or cut back on the partying, college students should focus on resolutions that will improve their career prospects. Here’s a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions every young professional should make:
Contact your professors about references. College professors are great for references – assuming, of course, that you didn’t skip class 15 times or blow off your homework. Possible employers are much more likely to consider someone with a college professor as a reference than someone who lists a family friend.
When asking for the reference, make sure to give your professor plenty of notice before you’ll actually need the letter, and always follow up with a thank you after you receive the recommendation.
Schedule a mock interview. The easiest way to do this is through your school’s career center. Interviews are always nerve-wracking, even for those who have been in the working world for decades. Your mock interview will give you tips on how to better answer questions, the appropriate way to follow-up with your interviewer and the types of questions you should always ask.
Think about grad school. I know, I know, the thought of three (or more!) years of school is enough to make even the most devoted student cry, but you must think about how it will help your career overall. Many jobs after college don’t require any education past a bachelor’s degree, but you can see a significant salary increase in certain fields if you have a graduate degree.
Update your wardrobe. This should be a no-brainer. The days of going to class in PJs and rocking the crop top to class are over. Done. Gone. Buh-bye. You don’t have to blow your bank account, but it’s definitely time to invest in some professional attire. Try to find basics that will go with a lot of different pieces so you don’t have to spend as much.
Work on your résumé. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ve got to have a serious résumé. Even if you’ve only ever had a part-time job in retail or a summer job for college students, think about the skills you learned. A retail job can provide skills such as customer service, problem solving and multitasking. Playing up the skills, not the jobs, will showcase your talents much more effectively.
Become an alumnus. Among other things, joining the alumni association at your university can provide great professional connections. Some schools even offer perks like free membership to a local golf course or exclusive access to alumni lounges at university events. More important, however, is the chance to connect with other alumni that could help further your career.
Write down your career goals. This is a big one. Writing down what you want makes it easier for you to stay motivated and track your progress. The key here is to make your list specific. Instead of writing “I want to be a sales manager,” try “I want to have a management position by the time I’m 30.” (Or sooner if you’re really ambitious.) Giving yourself a deadline will make it easier to follow through with your goals.
Start saving. This is a big one. Between car payments, rent and those nasty college loans, it can be easy to blow through your paycheck. Making an effort to save a little bit each month will give you future security and get you in the mindset of spending frugally.
Set a sleep schedule. Even if you don’t have a job or internship lined up after graduation, it’s a good idea to start going to bed and waking up earlier. Sleeping until noon might feel nice, but you’ll be more productive if you wake up at 7 or 8 a.m. and get yourself prepared for that sleep schedule.
Network. Even if you have a full-time job lined up, meeting other people in your industry is crucial. Networking allows you to build professional relationships you will definitely benefit from in the future. With the right connections, that entry-level sales job might just turn into a regional sales manager position.