This is a guest post by Sean Quinn, HackCollege writer. HackCollege is a student-powered lifehacking blog and the official sponsor of Formstack’s Back to School campaign. Its mission is to change the way college students and faculty view education and technology by informing students of the world about effective, open source software, putting techno-political arguments in everyday language, and creating a cult of “Students 2.0.”
One of the first things I learned when I got to college is that the old adage is true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s specifically true when it comes to perception. Perception is one of the most inconvenient truths of college – regardless of whether or not you want it, someone will be looking at you for 2.5 seconds and making a judgment. Those of us in Greek houses know it – we chose to endure a week of that to find what turned out to be some of our best friends, but it’s true in nearly every interaction within your university or college.
And you can’t change reality. Or can you? The best way to change perception is to brand yourself. We all remember those kids in elementary school who were caught eating glue or wore the awkward glasses. In college, stand out from the crowd in a good way by developing a fantastic personal brand. Just follow these 5 tips.
Hone a specific skill or trait. I’ve developed a reputation at my school for being the public relations guy. I didn’t come in as a public relations major, but I learned as much as I could (and then added the major) and started doing PR for multiple student organizations. Practice makes perfect.
Meet the right people. It doesn’t mean diddly squat if you’re a closet Photoshop genius or web design guru if you don’t let the right people know. Those skills are in high demand, but if you don’t make yourself and your skills known, your brand is useless.
Market yourself. Not the same as honing a skill or meeting the right people. Honing a skill is internal, meeting the right people is external: marketing yourself is both. If you want to be known as the kid with the photography business, people knowing you take photos isn’t enough. Get out there, develop business cards and a social media presence, and get to work.
Get involved. Those who are familiar with my work in college shouldn’t be surprised to see this. Getting involved on campus is one of the easiest ways to meet people and to meet opportunities. Doing it allows you to have a basic clientele, but also a good set of friends who will be willing to help you out.
Marketing yourself and your personal brand might sound like a challenge – but it’s not. It’s the difference between being known on your campus and not.
This post is a part of Formstack’s Back to School Campaign. From August 17-September 21, we’ll be sharing all things relating to higher ed, from how to survive your first semester of college to what cloud computing tools you should use as an educator. When it comes to all things campus, we’ve got you covered. Check out our campaign page for more information and enter to win a free semester of textbooks!