As a student, there is constant advice that is thrown at you from all angles. It can be difficult to sift through all the advice and ultimately find which pieces of it are genuinely relevant to you. Your experience in education is one of the most impressive tools you have in your armory, and using them to your full advantage takes practice. Not unlike the future of marketing, the future of business in general is fast becoming all about what and who you know. And your time at college or university is what is going to set you up for future successes in these areas of your career.
With all this in mind, the single most valuable piece of advice you can get as a student is that you should treat your higher education experience as the ultimate networking event. Why? Because it is. When you are a student, you go through many different courses, you might decide to major in art or achieve mastery in data science, but it is as important to meet various people from different backgrounds. While it can be tempting to keep your head down and focus only on yourself (which you should of course do at times), you should force yourself out of your comfort zone. Meet your teachers and tutors. Make friends with your peers. The only way forward is through, and so you must go through with every intention and every action to forwarding your career – yes, before that career has even truly begun.
More than that, however, you should be actively seeking out and then consciously attending networking events. Whether these are held at your school, or in the area in the form of industry events, go to them. The more you get to know other people, the more cultured you will become and the more connections you will make. Create a LinkedIn account, and then exchange it with those you meet. Creating this digital profile is a way to catalog all the people you meet, in a way that allows you to stay connected.
This is especially important because as you graduate and enter the workforce, you will find that you will need to have sharp conversation skills. You must be capable of not only holding conversations with unfamiliar people and in [sometimes] uncomfortable situations, but also with starting those conversations. The backbone of a career is in self-presentation, and establishing and always building up a professional network is the best way to present a positive expression of the self. It is the ultimate multi tool in modern-day (and future) career advancement.
So, go to the faculty parties. Go to events in your area for your future industry. Make yourself known while you are still establishing who you are going to be in your career, and you can never go wrong. People often say that college or university is the ultimate networking exercise, and they could not be righter. In building connections and jumping in the deep end while you are still learning, you will enter the workforce as a practiced, excited, and ultimately well-rounded career-driven individual. And then the real fun begins.