As someone who has never left education, my year still runs September to September, not January to January. So now that it’s September and a new (school) year has begun, it’s time partake in the new year’s resolution ritual. Or instead of thinking of them as resolutions, something so many of us fail to keep, we’ll look at it as time to set some goals for the year ahead. Specifically, it’s time to develop some personal branding goals for your 2011-2012 academic year.
Personal SWOT Analysis
To begin setting your branding goals for the year, you have to start by figuring out where you are right now. A great way to do this is by conducting a personal SWOT analysis. Identify the strengths of your brand and, of course, the weaknesses. Then figure out some opportunities for growth and for developing in your areas of weakness. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for things that threaten your brand, such as your fellow students who have similar backgrounds and who will ultimately become your job search competition.
Use your findings from your SWOT analysis as the first step in your branding goal-setting process. Your weaknesses and identified opportunities make a fertile ground for potential goals. But what if these lists include several items, meaning more that the recommended two or three to focus on as goals?
Have Your Resume Reviewed
An important thing for anyone, the resume review can help you in your branding process as well. Meet with a career counselor to discuss your career direction in conjunction with getting feedback on your primary branding document. From looking at your resume, can your career counselor identify your strengths? Can he/she figure out your intended career path? Can he/she “see” your brand?
Based on your discussion, you should leave with more clarification on the goals you might set for the coming year. I would guess that you will find some overlap between your resume discussion and your SWOT analysis. Ideally, it narrows your focus even more. You’re not done yet, though. There’s one more thing to do in order to solidify your branding goals.
Conduct an Informational Interview
Take this opportunity to set up at least one informational interview with a professional in your field. If you can find a recent grad in the field to connect with, even better. You’ll get an entry-level (or close to it) perspective. Be sure to ask the following key questions:
- What did you do in college to help you obtain your first position in the field?
- What qualifications are needed to be successful in your job?
- In what ways are new professionals in the field least prepared to succeed?
Again, the responses gathered in this interview should connect with the feedback gleaned from your resume review. Taken all together, you should be able to identify two to three achievable branding goals for the year. And by doing this work now, you have eight months to work on them.
Good luck with your goal setting! And Happy New Year!
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.