Before the school semester began, I arrived in Athens in typical fashion. U-Haul in tow and car stuffed with my every worldly possession; I rolled into town looking something like a Gypsy (don’t tell TLC). The stress of drop/add, new textbooks, and the excitement of another semester were beginning to feel overwhelming. I decided driving the length of Milledge, with the windows down at dusk would be therapeutic, and I was right. That at-home feeling only Athens can provide instantly put me at ease and reminded me why we use alma mater to describe the matronly institution that is UGA.
While driving at sunset with some great music on, I thought of a few tips to chop at the roots of stress. Most of what the Career Center focuses on, and what I’ve discussed in past posts, is centered on directly preparing for jobs and internships. However, today I’d like to focus on some obvious and not-so-obvious methods to indirectly edge out your peers that won’t require cutting in line at the Career Fair.
1. Success starts in the classroom
Cliché, I know. However, getting to know your professors and classmates early in the semester will pay dividends down the road. At the very least, simply introducing yourself and carrying on a conversation with your professor after class, allows your instructor to put a name with a face. Professors control your GPA and will be more willing to spend time with someone they recognize when Midterms roll around. Another bonus I recently realized is the awesome real world experience of UGA professors. A quick Google search will reveal these talented folks have done a lot more over the years than make PowerPoint presentations and grade exams. Graduate school recommendations and scholarship sponsorships are also worth considering the next time you take advantage of office hours. Other than professors, the students around you are looking for a study group just as much as you are. Some of my best friends at UGA have been the result of chatting with the guy or girl who happened to sit down beside me. There’s no better conversation starter than commiserating over a difficult class. Go ahead and try it out!
Maverick and Goose didn’t skip class
2. It’s okay to talk about yourself
When it comes to your future and goals, never hesitate to speak up! I think this concept is best illustrated by a story centered on a Marketing student from UGA. Looking to leverage her significant study abroad experience and language minor, she was frustrated with her difficulty in finding a position that directly involved working with firms outside the US. One day, she lamented to her new roommate that nothing on Dawglink was exactly what she wanted. Her roommate’s response: “I think my mom does something like that; she always has conference calls at odd times because of the different time zones.” As it turns out, the roommate’s mother works for Coca-Cola. And while not in the marketing department, her mother was able to help our protagonist secure a position that included rotation to other countries. Sure, this is a huge windfall and results will vary. The point is, discussing what you want to be when you grow up and not just your major/classes may lead to some very cool connections. If you do this on a regular basis and can play the role of both the student and the roommate, you will have tamed the elusive beast known as networking and be well on your way to a fulfilling career, while helping those you spend time with do the same.
3. Run and lift your way to that dream job
Other than the Career Center (of course!), Ramsey is probably the best resource on campus for UGA students. Making it over to East Campus, several times a week, will not only do things like beef up your immune system and relieve stress, but it even boosts interview confidence and will help you look like a million bucks in a suit.
The Commander in Chief proving my point
4. Embrace or develop a hobby
Two summer internships with a professional service firm have taught me a valuable lesson: successful people don’t sleep. Okay, everyone has to sleep and a lack of rest is extremely unhealthy. A more accurate statement is to take full advantage of waking hours. For some employees, when they are not working 40+ hour weeks and attending to their families, these men and women are running marathons, restoring old cars, mastering musical instruments or serving in their church and non-profit organizations. As UGA students we can spend time on GORP trips, games of Quidditch, weekend vacations, and photography. Get out of the SLC/MLC, and mold yourself into a well-rounded person employers want to hire. A cool hobby you’re passionate about is a better topic choice than your Pinterest board or Call of Duty. Trust me.
In the end, these four methods alone will not guarantee a job. However, combining them with the Career Center resources, Dawglink, and your hard work, you’ll have plenty of employers wanting to connect with you.