Sometimes interns and students wonder what they can do to best prepare for their career outside of academic success and campus activities. Here are some simple tips you can use right now and in your first job to bolster your opportunities for success.
Right now, as a student, you should:
1) Keep a strong database of contacts. When I was a student (and this will date me), I had a rolodex of contacts with business cards and written phone numbers and emails. Toward my senior year, this was transferred to a palm pilot and eventually to a spreadsheet and online contact database. Whenever you meet or interact with someone, keep track of the person’s email, phone, and a brief summary of your connection to that person. You never know when it will come in handy!
2) Keep in touch with your network. You have met supervisors, professors, friends, and mentors through your college career with whom you should stay in touch. Send an email or call two or three times a year to send updates about what you are doing and seek their counsel on important decisions you make. It’s not imposing on their time and they should be happy to help when you ask.
3) Monitor career sites in your field. You should look at job listings to get a better idea of common job descriptions and qualifications. Make sure you qualify yourself for your field and watch for patterns of what types of jobs are offered. If you are interested in the liberty movement, monitor the AFF Job Board, Liberty Guide, Talent Market, Conservative Jobs, and the Center for Shared Services.
Once you obtain that first job, you should:
1) Join organizations and take advantage of resources. Get on email lists, attend events, meet people, and build your network so you can obtain local knowledge from more experienced people in your field. America’s Future Foundation offers many events throughout the year. Also consider the Koch Associate Program, Liberty on the Rocks, First Friday, and other similar programs.
4) Target your networking. When I was an intern and entry-level employee, I wanted to network with all of the Congressmen, CEOs, and upper level managers around town. However, I realize now that my time would have been better spent meeting people with 5-10 years of experience who were closer to my age and more accessible. There is nothing wrong with networking at the highest level, but be reasonable in your expectations.
Roger Custer is Executive Director of America’s Future Foundation
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