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Nearly every college student goes to school to get an education that will hopefully allow them to get the job of their dreams. In order to reach that goal some professional items and skills are needed to make that path easier.

As a current first-generation college student its been an interesting time figuring out professional skills while still maintaining good grades in all my coursework.

Here’s some things that I found the most useful as a college student working on developing professional skills for both the present and future. These can help with anything from Greek Rush, internship/job interviews, career fairs, networking, and so on.

1. Agenda/Planner

Planners are useful little things that allow you to keep track of homework assignments, advising appointments, and office hours. While it may not seem extremely important, it’s a habit that will serve you well.

As you get more experience in college you’ll soon begin adding career readiness workshops, internship interviews, and maybe even appointments with alumni. If you ever have any doubts about a time or location, you can simply turn to your planner to get that information and be there on time at the specified location.

2. Time Management

I grew up under the motto of “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be screwed.” I have been in several situations where I’m meeting up with someone and they are 15-20 minutes late. Not fun.

I admit I’m not perfect. No one in this world is perfect. But there’s a difference between having an emergency that prevented something and not arriving on time because you forgot about an appointment.

When showing up to an appointment or interview its usually a good idea to show up 10-15 minutes early. If you have to be at an area you’re not very familiar with it’s a better idea to show up earlier. That’ll give you enough time to ask for directions and find the right location.

Another professional tip that I’ve always found hard to do is calling ahead of time if you discover that you won’t be able to make it to your appointment. It may be embarrassing at first but it’ll give you the opportunity to reschedule if needed.

3. Professional Attire

I assure you, there will be at least one time in the school year where you’ll need one business professional attire and one casual entire. An unexpected event will occur and without the proper attire you will be left scrambling to find something at the last moment.

Try to have one of each that you can have ready to go in your closet. That’ll prevent any wardrobe misadventures. If you have any issues with finances try a thrift shop or looking for an organization that helps low-income students with professional development.

If you can’t find either contact your school’s career services center. They are trained to help students from all walks of life and can pin point you to the proper resources.

4. Appropriate Social Media Accounts

Keep track of the information you post on social media accounts. Keep any profile pictures appropriate and make sure your bios reflect what you would want potential employers to see. Also, since many people use social media to network, inappropriate material can negatively impact the professional help you receive from others.

Check to see if your social media accounts allow you to review posts where friends may tag you. Some people have been in situations where they have kept their social media accounts cleaned but have been tagged in appropriate pictures by friends who didn’t realize it was potentially damaging. Social media is there for all to see, so show the most positive aspects of your life in a humbling way.

5. A Professional Portfolio

In all honesty I didn’t know this was an important essential until someone politely said that my paper folder could be replaced by something better looking. Now that I’ve used one for about a month I can see why.

They have a notepad to keep track of important information, folders for business cards, and a nice way to organize resumes.

I’ve also learned that its important to make sure your portfolio is well kept. An expensive professional portfolio that looks scratched with random papers poking out of it won’t help much in a formal setting. But a cheap one that is organized and taken well care off can project a professional appearance that can positively impact your reputation as a young professional.

College is about growing and sharpening skills for the future. These are basic professional skills that will allow you to develop more as you begin your career path. When going to a formal event don’t be intimidated. Be courteous, positive, and on the look out for tips or tricks that can help you grow as a college student.

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the author

Erendira Jimenez is a second year student at Wichita State University. She's majoring in International Studies and is part of her school's honors college. Like all college students she has a love for pizza, Netflix, and college freebies.

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