If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that the term “college” has morphed from a noun into a very active, demanding verb. In an ever-growing and ever-changing area of study, I have discovered a few things I can be doing along the way to be preparing myself for the expectations of the real world (aka hire me, please).

Change your mindset
​This is step one. Last year, during a meeting hosted by Kansas State’s chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America, our faculty advisor told us “you’re not students – you’re pre-professionals.” I initially shrugged this concept off, but the more I thought about it, the more I was able to begin bridging the gap between an education and a career. I realized how important it is not to discredit myself for being a student, but to take advantage of it. With that, I began to see my classwork as portfolio builders and my professors as network connections. Now when graduation rolls around, I will already be on my A-game.

Stay Relevant
Regardless of whether you enjoy posting your personal life on the Internet, social media matters. It is important to be familiar with the tools that the PR and Marketing industry now devote entire positions to. In a strategically communicating world, social media pages now act as resources for information. Your Twitter or Facebook page may or may not be the resource that your future employer utilizes to scope you out for a potential job. For this reason, I began contributing to the industry. I follow a variety of professional pages, nationally and locally, and every so often I re-share or comment on things that are happening in the PR/Marketing world.

Stay Current
My professors at K-State have always expected me to be up-to-date on important current events. What began as a last minute flip-through of the local newspaper before class has grown into an appreciation for global news. In an area of study that revolves around communication, every PR pre-professional should take full advantage of the News app that comes with the iPhone. Android users, I suggest a third party app like digg. There are way too many easily accessible news outlets to be a deer caught in the headlights when a professional or interviewer asks for your thoughts on a recent event.

Never Stop Looking for -Right Now- Opportunities
​What’s great about college is all the unique opportunities it offers. You are only cheating yourself (and the thousands of dollars you’re paying) by not taking advantage of every chance you can to gain experience. However, I must emphasize the importance of quality over quantity, in terms of involvement. The more time and effort you invest into the few organizations or jobs that inspire you, the more benefits you’ll see from them. Be a part of something that will allow you to build connections with your faculty and peers, while improving your skills. Make mistakes now so they don’t cost you a job later. While having a plan for the future is important,  you will never fully know whether or not you will enjoy that plan unless you are actively seeking out ways right now to put yourself out there and give it a shot.

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