Here is final part of our series of posts by guest blogger Jay Jordan, a Marketing senior here at EMU. He has been focusing on turning academic success at college into career success in the field. This week: the easiest and most practical tips on how to directly transform academic success into career success and finally how to approach building your skill set to prepare you for work.
Practice the discipline of articulating your world (in field). I own and use a Mac, and there is a great dictionary/thesaurus that comes built-in with the computer. Learn different words and their Latin or Greek roots, so that you can start making connections between words that people say. Vocabulary can be a very useful tool, not just to impress people with your verbose language, but so that you can pick the best word possible in communication!
Don’t just participate in culture, but make an effort in curating it (external to field). Not everything on Reddit or Tumblr is important, not everything even in the Wall Street Journal will be relevant to you at this moment. But if you make an effort to know a little bit about everything, you can begin to understand the dynamics of our world, and can even start making connections between one field or area of study to bring value to another. Start with your curriculum and general education requirements; they’re designed to help you with that. Then follow some important people in your field on Twitter or forms of social media. It might be a great idea to attend a conference in your field and network with those you wish to emulate.
Use the popular obvious resources as signposts. Use critics in every field to help you discern what is the good stuff in that field, you don’t have to go out and figure it all out by yourself! If a movie or new album is popular, there must be something to it, go find out what that is. A word of caution: in our consumerist world, a new movie may be heralded as “best blockbuster of the summer,” but is that claim coming from a source of academic review and critism or a paid publicist who simply wants to make you go? Nowadays, a quick Google search can help discern that question. Do commentators discuss the social implications of the film, or are all the comments “I’m a huge fan,” “it was really good,” or even the deceptively authoritative “refreshing with a great performance.” And if it’s legit, what is it about the movie that makes it worth the experience? This can be applied equally to other forms of media as well, not just the silver screen.
Read books. Articles are ok, blogs are ok, Twitter is even ok, but books are where the real potential learning and education is. Any chump with access to a Starbucks can write a blog post and make it look good (myself included), but the best knowledge is written and worked on for months, then passes through an editor, a publicist, countless reviewers, then is finally critiqued and promoted and if you hear about it, it’s probably because it’s a stand-out book. The knowledge contained in the pages probably means something. On average, I’ve read 3.4 pages a day since 2011. That’s ten minutes between classes or waiting for the bus, but it’s accumulated to over 30 books in the past four years.
Apply your education ASAP. “Get an internship in your field” is sound advice, even if you have to do some of the boring optimized “burger flipping” of your field. You’ll also be around adults who are versed in articulating that world, so you’ll be much more able to learn from them than from your peers. And that knowledge will come from those who made it, not just your professors, and that’s always a reassuring thing.
Again, special thanks to Jay Jordan, who is a super-senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, studying Marketing with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys drums of all kinds, and in his spare time enjoys catching up on classic books. His dream is to start a local business that provides spaces for individuals to learn and grow.