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Disciplines

Be Employable - Stay Smart

How do you define being smart? For most people, it is a mixture of several positive attributes like intelligence, foresightedness, quick-wittedness and being a fine performer. Apart from this, smart people have smart ways of getting things done. That said, the question that now remains is what you need to do in order to stay smart in college and beyond? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking along these lines.

No Alternative for Books

Contrary to popular belief, smart gadgets do not make you smart – knowledge does! If you are hoping to become smart, be prepared to read through different books and educational resources that enlighten you with different possibilities and existences. Books or resources do not imply your course work. There is a world beyond your school curriculum that is waiting your perusal. Read about things that interest you and be open to learn new things. Such a mindset usually gets you further than your fellow mates.

You can begin by developing a habit of reading thirty minutes before getting into bed. Regardless of whether it is literature, stories, fiction, history, geography or any other genre for that matter; just pick up a book and read it for thirty minutes before getting into bed. This does not only mean whatever you read remains with you for long but also that you will be reading about things you would otherwise not be familiar with.

Best Use of Modern Gadgets

Smartphones, tablets and other similar gadgets have become more of a need of today’s world. If you are fortunate enough to have such devices, put them to the best possible use. The best part about Smartphones is that there is an application for every task. So if you like taking notes at random or you would like to record every idea that crosses your mind, there is an application just for it. Moreover, you can even read books (eBooks to be more appropriate), articles, magazines and other resources on your phone. This not only reduces the weight of your baggage, it also makes reading possible anywhere and everywhere!

Updated With Current Events

Smart people know what is going on around them. So it is best not to lock down your sensors to your surroundings. Read the news regularly and find out details about things that are of interest to you. Even though there are aspects of your surroundings that you may not be willing to research (for instance, some people may find politics quite disturbing), it is best to read a little about it nevertheless. This keeps you updated with the current information.
On a technological note, there are applications that help you sift through news from different publications on the same platform. As said previously, make the best use of technology that you are in possession of!

Playing Intellectual Games

It is not possible to remain surrounded by literature all the time. You need to relax every now and then in order to prevent a burnout. However, you can make the most of this time period by playing intellectual games. Go for crosswords and Sudoku instead of racing and/or fighting games. Look for games that require strategy and mind skills. So even in your leisure time, you are learning something through games!

Meditation

It has been scientifically proven that meditation does not only help you in relieving stress and clearing your mind but also promotes the development of new brain cells. Meditation can help you in improving focus, attention span and memory. Consequently, you will be able to remember and retain more information and thus get smarter by the day. Reserve at least thirty minutes of your day for meditation – you will see noticeable improvements from the first day!

A Peek at Your Future - Informational Interviews

It’s very common to experience feelings of uncertainty or even fear when you prepare for the beginning of what will be your career after college. An informational interview is an interview where you seek advice on a career or industry of interest, rather than a job position. It enables you to sit down with someone who is working in your area of interest and ask them questions about their career.

Informational interviews should be taken seriously because you will be making contact with a professional that may be able to help you in the future. You should be well prepared and professional.

Making Contact

Begin by visiting your university’s career center. Many times alumni will volunteer to speak with students, so ask an advisor if there’s anyone available from your industry of interest. You can also use LinkedIn alumni groups to locate alumni in your field. Busy professionals are often more willing to speak with someone they have something in common with.

If alumni groups leave you empty handed, turn to the web. Search for companies you want to eventually work.  If the company is small or locally based, a phone call is usually well received. If it’s a larger company, use the best email contact you can find, preferably an email for a specific person in your department of interest.

Word Wisely

By phone- Briefly introduce yourself and explain that you’re a student interested in learning more about the company and a career in the industry. Ask if it would be possible to set up a time for an informational interview with someone there.

By email- Use an appropriate but direct subject line such as, “(Their Name)-Informational Interview Request” or “Question from (Your University) Student” if their name is unknown. You want to get their attention. Close your email by thanking them for their time. Include your LinkedIn profile and contact information in the signature.

Regardless of how you make contact, be clear that you want to know more about their career, their experiences and their company. This is not the time to ask for a job or sell yourself; and doing so will likely turn off a future employer at this point. Explain to your interviewee that you will take no more than 30 minutes of their time.

Prepare

Research the company more to gain a better understanding of its culture and history. If you are conducting the interview in person, you should select appropriate attire. Dress like you would for an actual interview. Write down your questions on a notepad in a portfolio. Here are a few to get you started:

  • What skills do you find most useful in this position?
  • What college courses helped you to best prepare for this job?
  • What is your schedule like?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement in this company/industry?

Take the portfolio with you to record the responses. You may also take a copy of your resume, just in case they ask for it.

Interview

If interviewing in person, plan to arrive five minutes early and behave as if you were on an actual job interview. Ask the interviewee if they are comfortable with you recording some notes regarding their responses.

When the interview is complete, thank the interviewer and ask if they have any other advice for you. Ask for a business card so you can follow up with a thank you email.

Summary

Informational interviews are one of the best ways to learn about a company and a particular industry. Conducting these interviews will enable you to make more confident career decisions, while making important professional contacts.

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