Well you’re almost there! Only a few more exams and a well deserved winter break stand between you and your final semester as a Communications student.
It has been a long and grueling process, trust me I know. Sometimes look back on my final semester as a Communications student and I am truly amazed that I survived. Wait, I take that back. I am not amazed that I survived, I am amazed at how much I accomplished personally and professionally during that time (although this was not without sacrifice, especially during my last semester).
This blog post has been inspired by TimeHop reminding me that 2 years ago, on December 13th 2014 I finally graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations emphasis.
There is no moment I am more proud of, than when I walked across that stage knowing that I had finally made it. All of my hard work, the social sacrifices, and sleepless nights were all worth it. I had glowing references, a kick-ass portfolio, and a resume that I could not believe was mine.
In order to make the most out of the last “hurrah” of my college career I set and followed a few rules for myself.
Rule #1: Stay Home, Study, Go to Bed Early During the Week
Trust me the parties that come along with graduation are going to be ten times more fun than anything you had planned to go and do this semester. Just stay home, work on your presentations, study, and go to bed early. The bars will still be there on Friday, and the parties will be more fun on a Saturday night versus a Wednesday anyway that’s just a fact.
Just do your time you will thank yourself come graduation. It’s one, final, semester you can do it!
Rule #2: Don’t Skip Class
Senioritis is not the same strand of disease that it was in high school. Every single day is an opportunity to learn more. Also, it is when I found my professors were giving me a lot more of their time to help me with things for post-graduation.
Just go to class and if you are following rule #1 you should have no problem getting there on time.
Rule #3: Go to All the Things
Networking events, Conferences, Seminars, “Mix and Mingles”, you name it! Go to everything and meet everyone. Don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself to someone, if you feel nervous about doing that you should maybe re-evaluate what you want to do with your Communications degree, haha.
As a young professional, a student at that, showcasing yourself as a person with confidence in their craft and a willingness to go the extra mile is going to really stand out with people you meet. With that being said I highly suggest getting business cards made for yourself. Include your name, degree, and your (professional) area of focus.
Keep in mind that at these networking events and conferences there are tons of business cards being tossed around from pocket to pocket so make sure yours will really pop!
Rule #4: Start Connecting on a Professional Level with Your Professors
Start thinking about your professors on a professional level versus a student/teacher level. For the last 4 years these professors have watched you grow in your education and now they are ready for your to fly the nest! This is a proud time for them as well and they want to help you succeed out there in the big ‘ol world (shout out to my fav, Professor Rothberg, thank you for everything!).
Take some time to sit with a few of them and discuss the direction you want to take your degree. Do you want to work in traditional PR? Do you want to get into Crisis Communication? Your professors are incredibly well connected and it is always good to have someone looking out for career opportunities with you!
Rule #5: References and Letters of Recommendation – Get Them Now
Keep in mind that you may need to provide a list of references for a potential job or get a letter of recommendation for a position. Your list of references should not include your mom and uncle. You need to take your time to find contacts that really know your work ethic and abilities, so take your time compiling this list. You will want to have at least three references.
Start asking for letters of recommendation this semester while there is plenty of time for your professors and other colleagues to write one for you that isn’t rushed.
Rule #6: Start working on your portfolio
Again, waiting until the last minute to get this together is not the best idea. I would start working on your professional portfolio during your final semester for a couple of reasons. The first being that once you graduate there is no ‘logging back into the school computer’ to download that paper you worked so hard on. While you are still an enrolled student you give yourself enough time to make sure you don’t leave anything you are going to need on the school hard drive. Also, you don’t want your portfolio to look slopped together last minute, trust me, your interviewer will be able to tell. Make sure your portfolio is in color! Yes, it is going to cost a little extra but it is worth it and is going to make it really stand out. Finally, if you are interning during your final semester, and they think you are doing a good job, there is a good chance they may offer you a full-time position! Make sure you have your ducks in a row.
Rule #7: Intern your brains out
Intern as much and as often as you can this semester. Do it for no school credit, do it for no pay. Freelance on the side of that. Do everything you can to build that resume and portfolio. Just accept the fact that you are not going to have a major social life. Again I say, it is one semester you can more than handle this.
Here is my final tip and it applies to what you do post-graduation:
Do NOT tell yourself, “after I graduate I am going to take some time off to relax”. Just don’t do it, you worked so hard to get out of college and you did not do that to spend a month on the couch with a bag of Cheetos. Get out there and get your job.
A Communications degree is not for the faint of heart. I used to hear a lot of talk about how it was a basic Liberal Arts Degree that “you only got when you didn’t know exactly what you wanted to do”.
What does that even mean? Whether or not you know what you want to do with your degree you still have to GET that degree.
A communications degree is more than just tests and papers. You have to be a certain type of person. You have to know how to mingle and network, you have to understand what it means to not only showcase yourself through your work but also your personality. My degree, that I have hanging up in my bedroom, means more to me than a lot things I have in my life.
I’ve never said, “I’m proud of myself”, and meant it more.