3 Ways Young Professionals Can Grow Beyond Academics and Internships

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Spring is finally approaching and for most young professionals, internship season is near. As many of us have gone through our semesters eyeing certain roles or companies, some of us may be looking for fresh ideas to grow professionally, beyond academics and internships. Throughout my college career, although working for eye-catching brands have sparked new opportunities, the most defining moments of my early career were the connections made outside of school and work. Below I’ve list some great ways to not only build your portfolio but also connect with excelling leaders in your field.

Conferences:

The opportunity to travel and connect with peers and professionals in your industry is one to always take advantage of. As I’ve participated in various conferences – from marketing, sales, consulting and finance conferences in my college career, I’ve met, befriend and learned from some of the most spectacular individuals in so many different fields. From chatting with Forbes 30 under 30 nominees to C level professionals, connecting with an array of crowds have given me new insight to becoming a better marketer as well as led me to new mentors and peers in the marketing industry. Conferences have not only sparked friendships from different sides of the country but has also led me to internship opportunities and knowledge about the latest trends in my profession.

Events like Marketing EDGE Student Summit exemplify how participating in a network beyond proximities provide fresh perspective as I have worked on side projects with new friends in New York and California, reconnected with other Summit participants through a shared internship at Facebook and introduced to friends-of-friends during my study abroad in Berlin. Although I participated in the Summit two years ago, the friendships I’ve made have continually grown, as we all stay connected through social media.

Industry-relevant events

As a marketer focused on the technology industry, it’s innate for me to stay in the loop beyond the marketing standpoint. I’ve done so through my hobby of participating in hackathons as it has given me the opportunity to grow beyond business perspectives and into the product creation aspects.

A hackathon is a gathering where programmers collaboratively code in an extreme manner over a short period of time. Hackathons are at least a few days – or over a weekend. While working on a particular project, the idea is for each developer to have the ability and freedom to work on whatever he/she wants.

Essentially, the few days of concentrated product-creation enable creative thinkers to create potential solutions to problems that can be improved. I find it fascinating because it allows me to get in the minds of developers and understand the technical perspective before it’s wrapped neatly in marketing and consumer jargon.

Although hackathons may not cater towards everyone, having an industry of interest and actively attending its community events will enrich your understanding beyond a professional perspective but also the personal side of each industry. For example, if you’re interested in fashion, attending shows and meetups would only broaden new inspirations and opportunities to connect with someone in the industry. Often times, these stories make great conversations and interview answers as you’re able to show your genuine interest in the role both on the professional and personal aspect.

Another way students can learn about their industry of interest is through career panels like the Marketing EDGE Student Career Forums, through this event, students are introduced to various companies that focus on marketing. By gaining a first-hand perspective on what it’s like to work in that company, students are able to personally establish connections with potential employers and team members.

Studying Abroad

As a marketer, gaining perspective beyond my community is integral in knowing what other demographics value. As I studied in Berlin for 5 month last year and Hong Kong for 6 month the following semester, working and studying abroad has broadened my consumer knowledge. For example,

who would have known that German have a strong lack of preference to Facebook or how going to the mall as one of the most common leisure activities in China?

Cultural values like these alter advertising practices thus shift how marketers approach their strategies and audience. In all going abroad, has not only served as an opening eye from a marketing standpoint but has also given me the most unexpected friends from all over the world. If I could pinpoint one thing that has been the most enriching contribution to my college career, living in a new country is one I would highly emphasize. Concluding this thought, applying to scholarships is a great way to accumulate funds for your time abroad, as I was able to do so through the Marketing EDGE Scholarship.

Seen through other means of professional and personal development like attending conferences, participating in industry-events and studying abroad, your college career is full of opportunities to branch out, so go out there and try something new.

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