How and Why to Start Building Your Personal Brand in College
A modern-day college student will typically have a hard time standing out from the crowd of peers in the same future profession. Both higher education and the employment landscape are shifting around more rapidly than ever, with all the new tech, new trends, and even whole new industries emerging like mushrooms after rain.
That’s why you should start considering your personal brand before you graduate.
What Personal Branding Does For You
When you think of personal branding, what comes to mind first? Maybe influencers, entrepreneurs, or celebrities? However, it’s a valuable asset for anyone who wants to establish their presence at any scale.
A brand is all about shaping the perception others have of you. For a college student or a recent graduate entering the professional world, a smart personal brand helps you showcase your strengths and achievements in a competitive job market.
It also attracts networking opportunities, which translates to career advancements and valuable industry connections. Additionally, it’s a way to highlight your soft skills and cultural fit, showing everyone that you’re a well-rounded candidate and worth hiring even though you’re fresh out of school.
As your career evolves, your personal brand helps you navigate the various transitions and serves as a timeline of your professional growth.
Why Start While You’re Still In College?
First, consider your career opportunities. A strong personal brand lets you choose which skills and experiences to showcase, so you get the jump on people’s professional perceptions of you. It’s a great way to boost your chances of landing internships or part-time jobs in your field of study.
Next, there’s networking. College is the ideal place to start building your professional circles. A personal brand can help you connect with professors, classmates, and professionals in your industry. It opens doors to mentorship opportunities and valuable contacts that can aid your career progression. Later on, it will help you market to college students yourself, so you get the first pick of new talent for partners or even employees.
Finally, it directly affects your skill set. Building a personal brand encourages you to develop various skills, including soft, creative, analytical, and administrative ones. From public speaking and writing to digital marketing and social media management, these skills are highly transferable and sought after by employers in all fields.
Getting Started With Personal Branding
Okay, so now you know how a personal brand can benefit you and why you should start building it before you finish school. With that covered, let’s take a look at an actual step-by-step how to.
Define your value proposition
What makes you stand out? What can you offer that your competitor candidates can’t? Is it your passion for a specific subject, your dedication to community service, or your innovative way of solving problems? Identify your strengths and what sets you apart from your peers.
Leverage your uni’s resources
Universities often offer career services, workshops, counseling, and networking events. Moreover, students tend to pool their own knowledge and share it globally, because college is hard for everyone. For example, a repository of University of South Africa resources could help European students and vice-versa. It’s a great way to learn a skill like marketing or psychology without actually taking the time-consuming courses.
Establish an online presence
Your personal brand heavily depends on your Internet persona. Create or update your LinkedIn profile with a professional photo and details about your education, skills, and experiences. Start a personal blog or website to showcase your expertise and insights. Also, curate your social media to be in line with your brand.
Use Twitter or Medium to share your thoughts on industry-related topics or your college experiences. Review your Facebook and Instagram profiles and remove or privatize content that doesn’t represent you positively.
Keep an eye on the trends
Stay ahead of the curve by staying informed about upcoming higher education marketing trends. Even when you’re out of college, understanding these trends can benefit your personal brand because it’ll tell you how successful businesses are reaching your demographic – so you can reach them that way too.
Engage with your circles
Invest yourself in your college community and beyond. Attend events, join clubs and societies, and participate in discussions related to your field. Interacting with others in your industry or academic sphere builds a strong presence and helps get your brand off the ground. It also makes you more memorable in the long run.
Share your journey
Throughout your marketing efforts, remember to keep your brand human and relatable. Share your college journey, including challenges you’ve overcome and successes you’ve achieved. Share your job hunting process, your internship anecdotes, etc. Authentic storytelling lets your audience connect with you on a personal level, making them more likely to want to do business with your brand.
To sum up, early personal branding sets you apart before you even enter the job market, plus it helps you develop a valuable transferable skill set. Begin by defining your unique value and establishing a strong online presence, and don’t forget to polish your social media and stay updated on marketing trends.
Engaging in your community and sharing your authentic journey helps you stay memorable and build lasting professional connections.
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