1. Read the news. You can use Google news for a diverse selection of stories, which you can tailor to show topics you have interest in. I’m subscribed to the NY Times daily newsletter, but amalgamates like newsmap or Twitter are also super helpful. In fact, read as much as you can. Being well-rounded, and having an understanding of many different topics will allow you to hold a conversation and network with almost anyone.
2. Invest in a watch. You are an adult now, and ain’t nobody got time for checking your phone during an interview. Besides, you might be cute but tardiness never ever is.
3. Get some culture! If you live in a city like Boston or New York, take full advantage of free events and college deals. The Boston Symphony Orchestra offers a college card for $25 which allows you to get tickets for as many shows as you want throughout the school year. The Museum of Fine Arts is also free for Northeastern students. Go to concerts! Eat exotic foods! Dance like an idiot with your friends! Even if the event or locale isn’t your particular cup of tea, it’s worth it for the experience.
4. Make a business card. I don’t care if all it says is your name, contact info, school, and major. I am working on designing my business card right now, and it’s extremely embarrassing when someone asks you for your card and you have to scribble out your details on a piece of scrap paper with an eyeliner pen.
5. Subscribe to Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day. Expanding your lexicon can never hurt, and the words are always interesting. I love when they do themed posts, like during NYFW when all the Words of The Day were fashion terms like peplum or diaphanous. A recent favourite of mine is “bordereau”, which means “a detailed memorandum”. During the prime of my SAT-prep days, I used to make mnemonics to remember vocab. For example, “supercilious” sounds like Lucius Malfoy, who is indeed arrogant and condescending.
6. Google yourself; your employer will. All social media sites are an opportunity. Keep your Facebook, Twitter, and instagram clean, but make sure your personality shines through, because employers don’t hire a resume, they hire a person. Make sure your portfolio (if you have one) is easily accessed. I’m still working on getting my own domain name because the “.wordpress.com” after my blog title is KILLING me. Update your LinkedIn, and be as detailed as possible. It’s an online resume, so take it seriously.
7. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note.
8. Do nice things for your co-workers. As an RA I’ve learned that when you put a group of ambitious, involved, and stressed out students together, things go a lot more smoothly if you actually like each other. A girl on our staff was having a really rough few weeks, so we got her a beta fish and some play-doh. If someone’s on duty and can’t leave the office, that person can rely on someone in our staff to offer to get him/her food from the dining hall. Doing little things for each other doesn’t take that much effort, but it goes a long way.
9. Learn how to walk the walk. While it’s unfortunate, appearance is a huge factor in how seriously people take you. Wear your armor of choice. If you’re me, slap on red lipstick like it’s war paint and stomp around in those heels. If you’re trying to get an internship at Ernst & Young, get a suit: preferably Brooks Brothers, but I will also accept Polo Ralph Lauren and J.Crew.
10. Stop pretending you don’t need sleep. Also stop pretending that you’re too cool to work out.