I just returned from my summer vacation to California. It was great to be away and to take a short break from work before the fall semester begins.
While I enjoyed my vacation, I was glad to get home. This summer, I learned that vacations can do two different things: they can help you appreciate other places in the world, and they can help you appreciate what you already have back home. This trip did more of the latter for me, and I’m kind of glad it did.
When thinking about personal branding, this same principle applies. You will meet other students building incredible brands, people who are already developing into great professionals before graduating. You will encounter seasoned professionals with impressive backgrounds and with well-respected brands. While it’s important to appreciate other people’s brands and to learn from them, it’s also important to appreciate who you are and who you are becoming as a professional.
While it’s great to appreciate the work of others, it’s important to maintain an appreciation of your own experiences. Sometimes, I look at what current students are doing in college and think to myself, “Why didn’t I do that?” If you have a friend who is involved in seemingly everything, has had multiple internships, etc., it can feel like you need to be doing more or doing something differently. Now, if you’re doing absolutely nothing, this might be the case. But if you are involved, you’re finding ways to gain experience, and you’re working towards your future, focus on the positive moves you’re making. Appreciate the accomplishments of others without diminishing your own.
You are a unique individual who brings your own personality, skills, and style to whatever you do. Sometimes when you’re too close to something, you stop seeing what makes that thing good. Just like when traveling, sometimes you don’t realize what you love about home until you leave it. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend trying to have some sort of out-of-body experience to gain an appreciation for yourself. But here is where friends, professors, and supervisors come in handy. Ask them what they appreciate about you. To them, you are that other place that they might visit. They find in you different things than what they find in themselves. They can give you the perspective you sometimes need.
I’m sure that as I get re-entrenched in work, the frustration with my home base will once again creep back. But it’s helpful to have moments when the positives about “home” are remembered.
Laura serves as Internship Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the office of Career & Leadership Development. In this role, Laura advises students who are pursuing internships, assists employers with intern recruitment, and supports university faculty who oversee academic internships. She also provides students with job search readiness assistance through presentations, individual counseling, and social media. Laura earned her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in French and Political Science, and she received her masters degree in Counseling from UW-Whitewater. To learn more about Laura, read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.