Top 10 Things Every College Student Should Do To Become More Professional

We all know that transitioning from what we know into something we’ve never done before can be difficult. For some, change is fun and exciting, even welcomed. But for others, change can be hard, tedious and sidestepped. Unfortunately, as human beings, we also know that growing up is a part of life and there’s nothing we can do about it! As students, we are aware that the closer we get to graduation, the more professional we have to become to make a life for ourselves. This change can be hard, but with the right resources and advice, it is a change that goes from negatively anticipated to quickly adjusted.

Though becoming more professional entails some larger, more serious changes like graduating from college and finding a job with a big company or moving states for a particular position that you’d like to see yourself in, there are small factors that come into play when reaching those higher goals. In a way, professional change is about building yourself as a ‘grown-up’ from the ground up. Or, think of it as ‘building your brand,’ your professional brand at that! If you aren’t quite sure what that means, consider attending the Build Your Brand Workshop on Wednesday, April 5th! The event will be held in PH 125, and during this workshop, you will learn more about building your professional brand and how to overcome the challenges you may be faced with along the way. Find out more information here!

Personal branding is crucial to becoming a professional in the work world because it allows people to represents themselves and separates one person from the next! If you don’t build your brand, someone might do it for you, and you don’t want that! Follow these ten steps on how to get started building YOUR brand:

  1. SPEAKING SKILLS. I don’t mean speaking skills as in knowing when and when not to speak, I mean speaking skills as in knowing when to call, email, and talk professionally. In the professional world, text-talk and acronyms do not exist. If you don’t find yourself using the proper language or grammar when you text, talk, or email, now is the time to start. Learning how to be professional means learning how to speak like one.
  2. VOICEMAIL. You may find this a little funny or simple, but a professional voicemail can land or lose you a job. If you still have a voicemail that tricks someone into thinking you’re on the phone or has a funny phrase, a high-end employer might hang up and not even leave a voicemail. Besides, changing your voicemail is part of growing up too!
  3. SHOPPING. Okay, who doesn’t love shopping? Even when we grow up, that part never really goes away. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean go out to Charlotte Russe or Pac Sun and buy shorts, sunglasses, and graphic tees. I mean shopping at stores that sell blazers, pant suits, ties and dress pants. Growing up is hard–most people can’t just show up to interviews and work in board shorts and tank tops. Dressing professionally is key to building your brand because it shows how serious and professional you can be. Walk the walk, talk the talk, look the part? Yeah, that. 
  4. BUSINESS CARDS. The further we get into our education, the more we have to learn to reach out to employers for internships and jobs. Having a business card ready when talking to these companies may help them remember you, separate you from someone who is high competition, or give them a partial idea of your professionalism before calling you for an interview. Sites like Vistaprint are perfect for designing business cards, but make sure you don’t ‘overdo’ the designs and colors. Make it stand out but not to the point where it’s too much to look at.
  5. ONLINE PROFILES. The more we grow up, the more we are forced to transition from sites like Snapchat to sites like LinkedIn. Though you do not have to give up all your social media profiles, always remember that employers are looking at social media more than ever before because it does, in fact, run our world. You could have the skill set like no other candidate applying for the same job, but if an employer stumbles across something on your social profile that they do not approve of, they may take the second best candidate to save their brand. Be careful, and challenge yourself to become a better person online because this is a crucial way to enhance your professional brand.
  6. CONFIDENCE. Confidence in your skill, knowledge, and personality can separate you from the next best person. Nobody likes an overly confident show off but being able to be confident in yourself and your skills in a professional way stand out more than you may think. Don’t show off and brag about the accomplishments the company already knows about, instead, show them how you were able to accomplish those things by your personal skills. Let them become impressed by craft not by bragging.
  7. LEARN MORE EVERYDAY. Learning helps everyone, regardless of your professional status. Sometimes, doctors learn information from interns they may have never known about or heard, and lawyers learn different approaches in the courtroom from a law student or intern working for their firm. There will always be someone who is willing to consistently learn more about the preferred skill and those are the ones who advance quicker and stronger. Learning makes the world go ‘round.
  8. HOBBIES. It may sound funny, but it’s true. As teenagers and young adults, our hobbies may still include things that professionals may not consider necessary. This is the time to take up new hobbies like volunteering for organizations that spark our interest or learning a new skill as simple as cooking, baking, or tutoring. An exciting part of growing up is learning how to teach others to follow in your footsteps, and sometimes that includes finding new hobbies that help someone else.
  9. ASK QUESTIONS. Not knowing what to do, where to go, and who to talk to is okay. As young adults, we take pride in learning how to do things for ourselves. However, it is normal to ask for help. Sometimes, asking for help makes you stand out because it shows you’re willing to learn and that you are not afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Ask questions if you have an issue and you may end up in the perfect situation.
  10. DO NOT WAIT. Do not wait to be asked to do something–stay ahead. Do not wait to be known for accidentally doing something, make yourself known for something that stands out (confidence in your craft, remember?), and do not wait to become more confident in the professional atmosphere. Waiting to be asked to do something shows laziness and lack of interest, if you’re always ahead, you become noticed. Positivity is key; employers do not want someone negative working in their environment because it motivates the other works to be lazy and cynical, too.

Follow these ten crucial steps, and when you’re done, you’ll be surprised how many changes you’ve made that do actually make a genuine difference. The more changes you make in your life, the more opportunities you will be presented with in the long run.



Georgina, aka Gina, is currently a junior at IU, majoring in family studies and sociology. Raised in Phoenix, AZ and South Bend, IN, she couldn’t be happier to be at IUB! Her passions include dance, working out, cooking, and spending time with friends, bf,  family, and her cats Shadow and Mocha. She plans to become a Marriage & Family therapist while working with issues like racism and inequality. Fun fact: she can’t start her day without a nice cup of coffee…or three, but who’s counting?

By Georgina Nicholos
Georgina Nicholos