20
Feb 17

To Share or Not To Share. That is the Question.

Well it seems like we can’t swing a dead cat (sorry, couldn’t help it) without running into yet another story about so-called “Fake News”. Or see yet another reference from 45 about “Fake News”.

While I haven’t actually conducted a study on the number of times our President has mentioned “Fake News” it seems like it is happening a great deal.

A scan of recent news reports referencing “fake news” includes news organizations on the left, the right and everything in-between. Potentially trusted and not so trusted and even so-called “alternative media” are all writing about “fake news” and pointing their biased fingers at each other claiming the other is “fake”.

But…it can’t all be “fake” can it?

To begin with it is important to know what “fake” really means, especially in this context. Many thanks to @NPR for providing this awesome piece on the meaning of “fake news”.

From my perspective there are several big issues with this concept of “fake news”. Not only do we need to become more savvy readers, we must accept that just because we don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, that doesn’t make the opinion or context “fake”.

So how does one tell if a news item is fake or not? FirstDraftNews.com author Claire Wardle tackles this very issue and quite well I might add.

She provides this wonderful chart that shows the different types of “information” that you can run into, categorizing it as either misinformation or disinformation and adds in the purpose or why that particular type of content is being created.

Misinformation and Disinformation chart from FirstDraftNews.com

Please take a few minutes to read more about Claire’s take on “fake news”. I’ll wait.

Now that you know how to tell the difference between the complicated levels of information, how can you put into practice what you’ve learned?

  1. Think SLOW. Stop sharing content just because your friends shared it. Resist the impulse to hit that fast share button without first reading the content your friends shared.
  2. Be CRITICAL. Use your critical thinking skills. Read the content critically. Check the date. Does it really make sense to share this further to your friend circle or do you have questions about it?
  3. Trust…but VERIFY. As you read the article shared by your friend, take an extra minute to conduct a search to see what others are saying about the same topic.

Remember, just because you don’t agree with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean the information is “fake”.  It might be…but then again it might not. Just because information comes from an “alternative” source also doesn’t mean it is “fake”. Again, it might be…but it also might not be.

In the digital age it is increasingly important to support a vibrant press — we may not always agree with them, but without them, our democracy is lost.

 


13
Feb 17

What does it mean to be CURIOUS?

Last week I wrote a post on LinkedIn about What Skills Are In Demand For Grads. I used survey results from a recent “WorkForce Prepardeness” report compiled by PayScale and highlighted the top hard and soft skills employers are looking for.

To be honest there weren’t too many surprises, but there was one “soft skill” in particular that I believe requires some more discussion.

According to the survey 16% of Hiring Managers believe that new grads lack curiosity.

I thought that was very interesting. What is it about curiosity that would land it on a soft skills for employees list? To be curious means that you wonder about things. You want to know more. You seek out knowledge. And, you are excited to do that. As I considered the importance of curiosity to hiring managers I realized that it isn’t that different from what I look for in an engaged student.

Curiosity Definition from Google

When I have a student with a strong desire to know or learn something it is an exciting moment — they question, they engage, they bring in more information. They seek out other sources. Their excitement is invigorating and challenges me to be a better teacher. So why wouldn’t this be an important skill that employers need in their employees, especially now?

Technology continues to drive change in so many ways that no one can “rest on their laurels” at work anymore. Platforms get updated, new tools come out, technology enables us to do things faster, more efficient and more effectively. Naturally it makes sense that employers need employees who are CURIOUS.

So how can a college student foster curiosity and even more importantly prove it on a resume or LinkedIn profile?

Step 1: Practice

As a college student the easiest way to foster your curiosity is to practice it! Take the extra step in your classes to bring the professor outside readings, or ask questions outside of class about a topic of interest. Seek out new sources of information that will help deepen your exposure to a topic.

Step 2: Share

Share your knowledge with professors and with friends. Consider writing about what you are learning on a blog or on a platform like Medium or as long form posts on LinkedIn. As you share what you are learning or questions you have, others outside of your university experience will connect with you and answer questions and provide further resources.

One great tool to help students find information about different topics is Twitter. It is no secret that I am a supporter of Twitter and have been for a very long time. If you follow the right people it is a great platform to expose yourself to new ideas, current events, and points of view different from your own. Hashtags can be very helpful as well.

I recommend to my students who are in Marketing and Digital Marketing to follow a group of individuals I’ve been connected to for a very long time. They continue to keep me current and allow me to be on top of my game as I bring current marketing trends and information into the classroom.

Here are several of my Twitter Lists of people to follow:

So students how about you practice being curious? Start your own Twitter list and see how it works out for you. Consider following organizations, associations and people in your discipline who are on Twitter. Then, take information you learn from them and talk with your professors.

Challenge yourself to become that “curious student” and start a habit that will benefit you for a lifetime.

 


20
Jan 17

Choosing Priorities in a Time of Uncertainty

Well it’s been coming. We’ve seen it coming. And yet, in a conversation with a dear friend today, she summed it up, “I think I’ve been in denial.”

Change is never easy. Even though our lives change all the time. We transition from one life stage to the next. We move from elementary school to middle school. From middle school to high school. From high school to college. From student to adult. From child to parent.

And every four to eight years we change leaders in our country. Depending on your point of view that change can be “good” or it can be “bad”.  Sometimes it’s not that much of a change at all.

This time though, going from the 44th POTUS to the 45th POTUS is like plunging yourself into freezing cold water after you’ve been in a nice hot bath. It’s a shock. I think this is for several reasons. At the most basic it is because the values and mission of the two men is so completely different. They are Americans. That they have in common. After that, their life experiences, what they hold dear, and how they approach others and the world is pretty much as big a difference as Black and White (and yes I did that on purpose).

So what to do now?

Well tomorrow I march. I will be attending the #womensmarchvt.

I am writing more. Writing very intentionally. Like this post.

And I’m setting my priorities.

In a time of uncertainty when it feels like ALL THE THINGS must be dealt with AT ONCE and you are receiving messages about ALL THE THINGS, and people you are connected with are freaking out, it’s hard to know what to do. It actually just might be easier to hide in a corner and avoid all the icky things.

As a professor I’m encountering a great deal of uncertainty from my students. While I have some who are clearly supportive of this change — whether or not they agree with the rhetoric that has happened — I have many others who have only known one president and have been able to gain great rewards because of this president as they have come to college. The least of which is being able to remain on their parent’s health insurance until they are 26!

So while this leadership change is hard for me, because I believe and have supported many of the social justice initiatives set forth by the Obama Administration, it is even harder for the students I teach. And on a side-note don’t waste my time by trying to convince me that colleges are coddling our students. If you make that statement I would encourage you to think carefully and critically about the influence of parenting on whether or not a young person comes to college needing to be “coddled”. My students are strong, thoughtful, caring, passionate, and worried. But for them, this was their first real presidential election where they could actually participate. And the rhetoric was by far the worst I have ever seen it — so I can only imagine what they are coping with.

I realize though, that because I’ve been through this type of change before, I actually know what to do. My students, however do not. So what follows is my advice to my students…and others…who are overwhelmed by the changes coming and don’t know what to do about it.

Step 1: Prioritize. You cannot and should not try to stay on top of all of the issues that are going to be impacted by this change. While this is hard to do, now is the time to focus in on two or three of the most important to you. Yes issues of climate change, human rights, health care, trade, education, land management, world aggression are all important — but given the scope of the change we are now in the midst of, you’ve got to hone in on what you really believe in. What you value. Be confident that there are others around you who are focusing in on the other areas. For me it is:

  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Women’s Rights

That doesn’t mean I don’t think climate change isn’t important, it is just that I value education, health care and women’s rights as social justice issues and feel they will need a lot of attention, and voice.

Step 2: Stay Informed. Avoid talk shows and pundits. Rather, find several places where you can go to get unbiased reports of legislation. I recommend @housefloor and @senatefloor on Twitter because it reports what is happening throughout the day. Use C-Span to watch and gather information and visit the Congressional Record. I also believe strongly in a non-profit press so highly recommend ProPublica and here in Vermont, VTDigger.

Step 3: Take Action. It’s a simple fact that our Senators and Representatives will listen when we CALL. If we like what they are doing we need to let them know. If we do not like what they are doing we need to let them know. You can do this by engaging in protest (as I’m doing in Montpelier on Jan. 21), you can do this by sharing content on social media, and you can do this by actually engaging with your elected officials — whether or not you actually voted for them. Your Senators and Representatives often have forms you can fill out on their websites, but don’t be afraid to actually dial your phone and speak to a human.

Step 4: Be resilient, be resolute, be ready for the long haul. I take inspiration from individuals who really know what it is like to fight, again and again for equal rights and for social justice. The rhetoric of this election cycle has been horrible and has set a tone that each of us must fight against. I look to the wise words of Rep. John Lewis to keep me focused. Who do you look to?

“Fifty years later, those of us who are committed to the cause of justice need to pace ourselves because our struggle does not last for one day, one week or one year, but it is the struggle of a lifetime, and each generation must do its part,” Lewis said. “There will be progress, but there will also be setbacks. We must continue to have hope and be steeled in our faith that this nation will one day become a truly multiracial democracy.”

And with that….I’ve got a march to get ready for.

 


28
Aug 15

Advice to the Class of 2019: OWN your Education

It’s that time of year again. It’s back to school! So many of my friends are posting first day of school pictures of their young ones heading on to the bus or off to the classroom. I remember those days but now that my daughter is in college, my “first day of school” is much different.

It really begins with convocation. Here at Champlain College we have convocation on the Friday before classes start. Friday morning is move in day, get settled in a bit, say goodbye to your parents, convocation, and then various and sundry other epic adventures, capped off with academic orientation on Saturday morning. Want details on it all? By all means take a look at the Champlain College Orientation 2015 schedule!

Over the years, I’ve found that listening to the President’s speech and watching as students and families say goodbye has been both heartwarming and nostalgic. Up until last year it was the picture of things to come…and now I remember watching my daughter go through it as well. I enjoy convocation where we have the opportunity to see our incoming first years (this year is the Class of 2019), salute an outstanding citizen and hear words of wisdom from the Lyman Professor. Last year, my colleague and friend Dr. Nancy Kerr even brought props!  You can read her speech on our website.

Dr. Nancy Kerr and Dr. Mike Kelly (holding the typewriter)

This year, however, is going to be a whole new experience for me. You see I’ll now be the one standing up on that stage dropping words of wisdom on the incoming class of 2019. I have been awarded the honor of being the Lyman Professor for this year which comes with it a few nice perks and the privilege of giving a speech at convocation.

As I’m sure you can imagine this is both an honor and actually something that is quite overwhelming. I’ve spent the summer noodling on this and what I wanted to impart upon the incoming class and finally, this weekend as I sat on a rock by my pond, it started to gel.

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And here it is. Already Friday. And I’m about to give that speech. According to my daughter it is pretty good…actually she said “That’s going to be amazing”. Here’s hoping so.

For those of you who are unable to attend the convocation in person, here’s what I ended up writing.

Wow. Look at all of you. The Class of 2019!

I just listened to the President’s speech over at Akin Lawn and watched as you headed off in your groups and left your family members. You’ve mostly moved into your dorms if you live on campus, and for those of you living off campus, you’ve probably gotten the lay of the land at this point. Most of you are now, officially, “on your own”. Perhaps for the first time.

How does it feel?

How many of you are excited? … thrilled? … nervous? …. anxious? ….hungry?

Last year at Convocation my colleague and friend Dr. Nancy Kerr encouraged students to take out their cellphones and take a selfie, or a picture of the crowd and document this moment. I’m going to continue that tradition and encourage you all to take a minute and go for it. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…just use the hashtag #champ2019. Go ahead. I’ll take my own and wait for you.

Oh and if you want to, go ahead and Meerkat or Periscope this speech, or live Tweet it. I can’t speak for my platform partners up here, but while I’m speaking go right ahead. I’ll trust that you aren’t going to just text random stuff to your friends. Naturally, texting what I have to say is ok, though.

So here we are. Getting ready to embark on a grand adventure together. Each of you filled with a variety of emotions — emotions that I feel too. I’ve watched this process of first years entering Champlain for almost 15 years and I’ve even watched my own daughter go through the process too. As a professor and a parent this time of transition is filled with all sorts of awesome. Really. There’s pride, wonder, nostalgia, worry, and even relief. As I thought about what I’d say today, and all the “advice” I wanted to drop, I realized that everything I had to say could be boiled down into one very distinct and specific message.

This education thing you’re doing? The next four years of your life? It’s yours. Let me say that again. It’s YOURS.  It belongs to you. This is no longer high school where you go through the motions because everyone tells you to. This is college. This is expensive. But no matter who is paying for it, or how you are making this work in your life, remember that this education belongs to you. So own it. If you love what you are doing, then stick to it. If you don’t then switch your major. Don’t let your families, your friends, even your professors have so much influence on you that you don’t pursue your education to its fullest. The next four years are so full of learning that you cannot be passive about it. Face each day with a sense of purpose because you never know what the day will bring and what you will learn from it. Yep. This is YOUR education.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many students during my time at Champlain. And I’ve watched all of them come in as first years and over the four years (sometimes five) that they have been here, I have watched every single one grow, change, and become young professionals who were ready to take on the world when they graduated. Trust me when I say to you that the person you are today, sitting here at Convocation, is NOT the person you will be in four years when you graduate from Champlain College.

The emotions you are feeling today are there because you know deep down inside that you are getting ready to embark on an adventure that will expand your mind, change your point of view, increase your knowledge, and make you a different person. I’m here to tell you that it is one of the most awesome experiences you can have. Look forward to it. Be excited and above all be open to all that is coming.

We live in times of great change. Every day we are reading news about challenges our country is facing. We are entering an election cycle and you all will have the opportunity to vote in your first presidential election. You are on a college campus where you can learn about other’s points of view. You can get involved and engage with clubs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Student Government Association, Sustain Champlain — heck you can learn how to raise bees and sell honey! You can practice civic action and get involved with our Center for Service and Civic Engagement. As a student here you can exercise your voice and if you are unhappy with something this college is doing, you can band together and change it. Here is where you begin to learn that you not only have a voice, but you can use that voice to have a positive impact on those around you.

Every single moment you are at Champlain College is a learning opportunity. A step towards your future you. Think about it. Every single moment. Even right now.

In and out of the classroom you can take steps to your future you. And here are some things that will get you there:

Help each other. Right now, turn to the people around you and smile. A smile is the first step to friendships. Go beyond your dorm and your major. Some of the most powerful and long lasting friendships I’ve seen students make have come from being open to accepting others into their lives.

Take advantage of every opportunity. Be curious and open minded. Take on internships and work-based experiences. Say yes to study abroad. Get involved. Start a club. Challenge your stereotypes. Push your boundaries. Each time you do, you’ll be rewarded.

Use your resources. You’ve by now heard all about our “human touch”. (You just heard it from Pres. Laackman when he talked about Mind, Heart and Body.) Well it’s not just marketing (and I know marketing). Professors and staff actually do care. You aren’t alone here. Really. When you have questions, when you are uncertain, when you don’t know what action to take, even if you don’t know what question to ask…reach out to one of us. We will help you.

Remember that College is HARD. Change is HARD. Learning is HARD. So be kind to yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep. When you are feeling stressed, you are not alone. Your peers are stressed too…whether it is class work, personal life stuff, missing your family and friends, feeling overwhelmed…know that you are not the only person feeling this way and remember what I said earlier about using your resources. Don’t hide. Talk it out. You WILL be ok! 

Do NOT be afraid to FAIL. College is where you learn. When you FAIL remember that it is just your First Attempt In Learning. Entrepreneurs talk time and time again about the amount of failure they had before they succeeded. Now is the time to fail so you can learn and be ready when you enter the professional world. Don’t let failure stop you. EVERYONE fails. You belong here. Take it in stride. Learn from it. Grow.

Finally, relax. Chill Out. Enjoy the experience. Remember that there really is nothing so bad that it cannot be worked out. 

And above all, resolve to

Be.

Awesome.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Because you are awesome and you are here at Champlain College where we know you will flourish as you embark on one of the most amazing journeys of your life.


05
Sep 14

Developing your Professional Digital Identity

Each semester when I teach my marketing Capstone course, the students engage in a semester long process to build up their personal brand. We call it the PDI or Professional Digital Identity. Throughout the years it has been updated and tweaked a bit, but has primarily stayed focused on helping our graduating seniors show their expertise not just in digital marketing tools, but also in content development, while highlighting their passions and interests.

The results of their work have been outstanding and many students have been able to secure internships and jobs because of what they practiced and learned through this assignment. Just see for yourself and look back over the years on this blog by reading the #ccc410mkt tag.

I’m quite passionate about this particular project and over the years have seen first hand just how important it is for students to complete this work. And yet, at the same time, I see how it is becoming even more important for most individuals to take a hard look at their online identity and make sure it reflects them in a way that will help them professionally.  Don’t believe me? Check out this handy infographic posted at UndercoverRecruiter from Reppler that tells an important HR story:

How Employers Use Social Media to Screen Applicants

So here are five things I think everyone should do to develop their own PDI. Oh, and if you want to see what my students are required to do just take a look at the PDI assignment guidelines.

  1. Google yourself. You might be surprised by what you find.
  2. Assess your current social media content and “professionalize” it. Delete content that could get you overlooked, add content that will spark employer interest. Be sure to maximize the security and privacy settings on tools like Facebook and take control of the content that is posted about you.
  3. Make it easy for people to find you. Pick a username and use it across all your social profiles. Put links to all of your online content sites on all of your online content sites. For example from this blog you can find all of the social accounts I am active on. From my LinkedIn you can find my blog, from my G+ you can find all my accounts as well as my blog.
  4. Pick one or two online tools to create content with — and build quality content about yourself. A blog is a great way to start, but if you don’t feel you have time for that, then use Twitter, or tools like Medium to create smaller, more manageable content, or go visual with Prezi, or Instagram, or Pinterest. Make sure you do put quality effort into LinkedIn.
  5. Build your network. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Klout to find people to follow, read, and connect with. Share great content. Try to meet people in person when you can. Participate in Tweetchats that have to do with your chosen field.

It’s not hard to do, but in today’s digital workplace it’s becoming even more vital that you have a Professional Digital Identity that will help you … not hinder you. Want to see how you stack up? Try this handy PDI Rubric I created for my students.

Oh, and as a special BONUS: take a look at Brandyourself.com for a handy way to increase the visibility of several of your online profiles for free. You can also take a look at Reppler to help you as well.

 


24
Apr 14

Evaluating a New Technology Tool for your Family

Tuned-In FamilyWhat follows is an excerpt from my new book: Tuned in Family: How to Cope, Communicate, and Connect in a Digital World


One of the biggest challenges parents face when it comes to digital communication technologies is knowing which tools are the most appropriate for their children and for themselves.

Why?

Because the tools themselves change every day. New advances bring new conveniences and greater ease of use and sharing. Your children’s schools may introduce a new learning management system that allows you access to grades and information, a new video game entices your child, an upgraded cell phone operating system adds more bells and whistles. Keeping up is hard enough for yourself, but add in the responsibility of your children and it becomes even more complex.

Use PAVER

A simple way to assess the appropriateness of a digital communication technology for your family is to run it through the following test which I call “PAVER”. Think of it as paving your way to technology success.

  • Purpose: First determine the purpose of the tool. Is it a word processing software? Is it an application that helps you check the weather? Is it a console game? Is it a social network?
  • Age Appropriateness: Then, is it age appropriate? Is your child mature enough to handle the environment and user interface? Can they manage the responsibility of the tool?
  • Value: Next, assess the value of the tool for the family. Does it provide entertainment? Is it educational? Does it allow for ease of connection for your family?
  • EULA: Then be sure to read the End User License Agreement (EULA). This is where the company that makes the product lays out the legal implications for use of their product/service and they tell you limitations as well as what they do with content. Be sure you agree with EULA and are willing to conform to requirements.
  • Reviews/Resources: Finally, take some time to read reviews, view videos, and utilize resources to learn more about the tool so you are educated.

Tuned-In Family: Technology Evaluation
Consider the different games, devices, and software you use throughout your day. Think about the same things your children use throughout the day. Have you ever really thought about the purpose of it in your life? In your children’s lives? What value does it bring to your life?  And of course, do you understand the End User License Agreement — all that wonderful legal stuff that comes with the apps and software we all use every day? This is what PAVER can help you with.

I highly recommend these resources to help you as you consider different technology tools for your family.

 


19
Apr 14

Tuned-In Family: Setting Ground Rules

Tuned-In FamilyWhat follows is an excerpt from my new book: Tuned in Family: How to Cope, Communicate, and Connect in a Digital World.


 

When it comes to managing the communication technologies and tools in your family, the rules of use are an important component to teaching best practices, respect, and appreciation for what the tools can accomplish. They are also useful for dealing with the issues that can come with these tools. From health issues caused by too much screen time, to user immaturity and misunderstandings of what content is private or not, individuals run into issues all the time.

Setting strong ground rules within your family is the fastest way for your family as a whole to better appreciate the tools and respect the boundaries you all set together. These ground rules will need to be revisited and discussed often, especially if you have teenagers in the home!

While each family will need to determine the ground rules that work best for them, I’ve compiled a list of recommendations that I have utilized within my family. I’ve also created a handy chart, which you can download here or from my resources section at Tunedinfamily.com in the resources section, that you can work with as you develop your own rules.

My five basic ground rules:

  • The “real friends” rule: When engaging in any online social context the rule for your children until they are older teenagers should be the “real friends” rule. Whether it is video games (computer or console), social networks, music services or even texting, making sure everyone in the family understands the difference between real friends and virtual friends is important. The sooner young children understand this, the better off they will be as they grow older.
  • Read the EULA rule: This one we all have to do a better job on. Often the “legalese” can seem overwhelming, and we just click the box and move on. However, there are many interesting things buried in the EULA, such as who owns the content you post, age restrictions, privacy information, and how they use data collection to manage marketing and advertising efforts. All of this information is very important in a society that is moving more and more towards 24/7, always-on access.
  • What’s the value rule/Tell me why rule: This rule becomes more critical as children get older. But start them young and have them explain why a new tool would be valuable for them or why they need it. This is one that I have employed with my daughter a great deal – the fine print on it is that “because my friends are doing it” is not a good reason. This is also a good way to ask them if they’ve read the EULA (reinforcing rule #2 above).
  • Ask my permission rule. As we take sharing for granted we often forget that each of us has a different threshold for privacy and sharing. Making this a family rule means that all of you must ask permission before posting images or information about one another in social contexts. This is another one that will become more obviously important as your children get older. Giving them a sense of control over what you post and where you post sets a great foundation for some good conversations. It’s how my daughter and I have been operating for quite a few years now. I respect her privacy and her wishes on what I post on my social networks about her, especially with pictures. She does the same for me.
  • Screen time rule. Rather than set time limits with the assumption that all screen time is “play time” emphasize the importance of walking away from screens for health reasons. Extended time in front of a screen, whether it is for homework, watching movies, or playing video games is not healthy for the eyes, mind, or body. Taking breaks, moving around, and changing your “visual inputs” are the foundations for this rule.

These five basic rules have been very useful with my daughter and me. Perhaps you as a family will come up with more rules that fit your needs better. Use these as a starting point, and talk through the consequences for breaking the rules. And remember, everyone in the family (including parents) need to adhere to the rules and take the consequences for breaking them. We’ve had consequences that range from permanent loss of access to a social network to having to removed content and posts from different social media sites.

What are some of your family ground rules?  Feel free to share them below in the comments section.

 


16
Feb 14

Making the Most Out of Your Last Spring Break: Advice to College Seniors

lolcats-party-group-study

In just a few short weeks it will be spring break. It’s that epic time of year when the annual pilgrimage of college students to all places warm begins, or to places with much better snow and powder. At Champlain College our spring break is March 3 – 7. Naturally that actually means February 28 – March 9.  For many students this is a right of passage. An opportunity that comes once a year throughout college to let loose, have fun, and escape from the norm.

However, for seniors who are eyeing May as their graduation — aka welcome to the real world — spring break should be taking on a whole new focus.

There are many ways to look at it. One could think, “Hey, this is my last time to really have fun and let loose.”  Once could also think, “Whoa, in just 8 short weeks I have to find a job!”

Perhaps you are a senior and you are thinking both of these things.

Well I have some advice for you.

Make your final spring break count.

Honestly you will have plenty of time in your life to go to exotic locations, have great fun, and explore the world. And you’ll have many more opportunities to do that if you kick off your career right out of the gate and have a job in May.

My advice to you right now is to take the next week to set up a spring break that will have a lasting impact and maybe help you land a job. This is homework that goes way beyond the classroom. And the grade you get is a job.

  1. Focus on where you want to work. By now you should have either an idea of the city/location you would like to start your job search, or you have a list of a few companies where you’d love to work. If you don’t have that list. Make it. Now.
  2. Get your resume and your LinkedIn ready. By now your resume and LinkedIn profile should be rock solid. You’ve kept up on your accomplishments, you’ve listed your projects, you’ve written your results oriented descriptions. Your resume provides the right amount of information and sends people to your LinkedIn for more depth. What? Not feeling confident about your LinkedIn profile? Well then. Fix it. Now.
  3. Leverage your connections. I’m sure you’ve made a ton of connections with professionals while you’ve been in college. Professors, Internship Supervisors, local professionals from Chambers of Commerce and Young Professionals organizations, and even social media contacts via Twitter chats in those locations you want to go to. If you haven’t…you better get on that! Reach out to those contacts to find out if they know of any upcoming jobs. Let them know you have time coming up over spring break to meet with people and discuss opportunities.
  4. Set up “Informational Interviews”. Using your list of companies in the locations that you are interested in, pick up the phone…yes..the PHONE. Call their receptionist and ask to speak with someone in Human Resources. Use those connections mentioned in #3 above, to help you get in the door. Make a set of informational appointments and follow up with an email that includes your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  5. Go have the Spring Break of your career! Practice interviews at your Career Services office, buy that power suite (or get your parents to do it for you as a pre-graduation present), board that plane and meet people, connect with organizations, set yourself up for a successful graduation.

Many people think that college graduation is the culmination of four years of your life. I’m here to tell you it isn’t. It’s the kick off for the rest of your career. To set yourself up for ultimate success don’t wait to walk down that aisle in your cap and gown before you start looking for your first professional job. Start now. Use your spring break to help you get ready. And if you are super creative, like several students I know, you’ll still be able to get in some recreation and down time in between those interviews. Catch some great runs, see great sites, hit the beach…and secure a job.

I’ve seen students do this over and over again. And those who have taken their final spring break to expand on their job search have all gotten jobs before they graduate.

Now that’s something to party about!