According to Forbes.com contributor Ilya Pozin, “building your brand identity, keeping your competition out of the spotlight and forming incredibly valuable relationships for your company” are all ways to measure ROI. Although these forms of measurement may be less quantifiable than number crunching, Pozin sees them as essential for success.
I think as a college student, you can apply these same measurements to your career goals. If you took these less tangible measurements and applied them to your job marketability, what would the return on your investment be?
1.Building your brand identity. While in college, what are you doing to build your brand identity? You show up to class: check. You turn in assignments: check. You belong to a student organization: check.
All of the above are admirable characteristics, but the real question is, “Is it enough to be competitive?” For the most part, I would answer, “No; it is not going to be enough.” You will certainly rise above those who opt to rarely show up to class, turn in half-completed assignments and spend their free time partying their way through college. But it won’t necessarily get your resume to the top of the stack.
Consider stepping it up a notch. Take class assignments to a higher level–do more than the bare minimum–you know you could if you tried. And become an active member of those student organizations; be more than a name on a roster. Be able to show prospective employers tangible outcomes of your knowledge, leadership and other forms of professional development while in college.
2.Keeping your competition out of the spotlight. I don’t mean to start any roommate wars here, but the reality is your college peers are your competition. Everyone crossing that stage in May with the same degree as you will be vying for those same coveted positions. So who currently has the spotlight shining on them?
A friend once told me that if you want to know a person’s priorities all you need to do is look at their checkbook and their calendar. What would prospective employers discover about you if they looked at your checkbook and calendar?
If you justify not getting an internship because you cannot afford to take time away from your job, could you possibly afford a few hours a week to devote to an internship if you adjusted your spending habits? Are you not seeking out internship experience because you “just don’t have enough time?” Would a peek into your calendar prove otherwise? A crash course in budgeting and time management might be just what you need to get you in the spotlight.
Students who make their career aspirations their priority while in college are the ones with the spotlight shining on them when they are in the job search. Their resumes reflect how they spent their time and money because they have the successful career-related experiences and a much broader professional network, which leads me to the final means of measurement.
3. Forming incredibly valuable relationships. In its most simplistic form, public relations equals relationships with publics. For public relations students, this applies to relationships with peers, professors, employers, internship supervisors, Facebook friends and Twitter followers–just to name a few. In other words, building your brand, getting the spotlight to shine on you…it’s all about building incredibly valuable relationships. And it takes initiative; it takes professionalism; it takes time.
Last year when Gini Dietrich visited SIUE, I remember her telling students that effective public relations is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time to build relationships, but if done the right way, you get long-term benefits rather than just short-term gains, which can happen with a little luck but rarely ever last.
As you move toward the end of the semester, consider the investment you are making into your college education and, ultimately, your career. Will you get a good return on your investment? If not, now is the time to re-evaluate your “educational portfolio” and make the necessary changes.
In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.