Sometimes, it’s easy to be so focused on graduating that you lose sight of a bigger perspective. Obtaining your degree is one step of many that makes up your career path, but with classes, tests, papers and extracurricular events, looking past the next semester can be an obstacle. The reality beyond that next final or even graduation parties is that you’ll be competing with thousands to find the right position for you, one that leads to those other steps. One way to bridge the now to the future of your career is by committing to something already done by many students, a practice you can bring along through your career: blogging.
Before you graduate
When approaching what should be a professional blog, use the techniques you’re learning about project management. Plan backwards. Write with an eye to the future and project where you’d like to be professionally in a decade. This focus will likely change, but that’s a natural progression, not a sign of drifting.
While you can begin a blog on any number of free sites, invest in your own brand by purchasing a domain name. Put some thought into the name as it needs to convey who you are as a professional. Your name, as close as you can come to matching it with an available domain, is a good call, but if you have a very common name, picking an industry-recognizable theme is also acceptable.
You don’t want your writing to be stilted, though you shouldn’t ramble either. This is an industry or field related work that should primarily include entries that are relevant to that discipline. Take your ever-growing following along with you as you discover how a course or concept could be applied in your field. Don’t be afraid of chronicling a dead end you experienced as it can highlight how you adapt to new information, such as that stemming from a miscalculation. Just be sure to include a happy ending.
Don’t overlook writing about who you are. As before, you don’t want a gratuitous blog and you don’t want a blog that feels forced to you. Writing about your involvement in the community, your leadership in a club or organization, and your hobbies or interests all brings you closer to your readers who can relate to these very human experiences.
During your job search
As your time in college is part of a career trajectory, that period is also an iteration of a lifetime job search process. Your blog content should include enough entries about industry related class projects and intern experiences, but most importantly, your blog needs to be seen by a network of readers who can have a positive influence on your career campaign.
If you’re not already usingLinkedinas a networking tool – start. At a minimum, join one or two industry specific groups as an active member and promote your blog on those groups and in your updates. When you receive followers or comments on your blog itself, engage those who’ve shown enough interest in what you have to say to take some affirmative response to your blog. Engage them and begin building a community. From this body, get leads for key persons and mentors and post ideas. Your blog absolutely must be an integral part of your search, whether it’s for your first job or that vice-presidency later in your career.
After you land your first position
Needless to say, you don’t blog about proprietary issues or problem personalities, but documenting your own development and growth demonstrates to key readers that you’re reflective – a trait highly valued in any industry. As throughout your blogging activities, the frequency of your posts is not as important as the regularity of your post. Two brief, thoughtful posts each week are better than an occasional essay offered once in a while. Give your readers some sense of when they can anticipate your posts and then engage any and all responses.
By starting your blog in school, you’ll be a confident blogger by the time you’re in the workforce. You’ll know what to post and how to manage the surprisingly compact time blocks in which you compose your entries. Most importantly, integrating a quality professional blog into your career path will keep you aware of your own progress and for that reason alone, it’s an invaluable tool.
AUTHOR BIO: Melissa Crossman is a professional tech writer who also blogs on behalf of American InterContinental University (AIU). She lives in Indianapolis with her dog and her ficus tree.