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Getting Organized: How to Streamline Success

Regardless of your habits and personality type, you’ve probably found the transition from high school to college especially challenging in regard to  time management and organization. The further you get into your college career, the more the necessity of proper planning and organization becomes evident. This becomes especially clear when you begin to prepare for the real world. Balancing your course load with extracurricular activities, part-time work, and your social life becomes increasingly difficult when you add the layer of career planning and professional development. Streamlining your days by developing a clear system of organization is instrumental for professional success. Here are a few tips that will help you manage your job search responsibilities so that your journey from pupil to professional is as smooth as it can be.

First and foremost, I recommend getting a calendar – and using it. This is absolutely key in keeping your appointments, assignments and other obligations in order. I like to think of calendars as monthly to-do lists: they provide you with a clear month-by-month task-management system that takes the work out of remembering what you have coming up on any given week. I find calendars the number one thing that I rely on in college to keep my mind focused and my energy fixed in the right direction. As Mount students, we all have Windows Live accounts, so I recommend using the calendar that comes with this service. Virtual calendars like these allow you to fill in any appointments or other obligations you have, on any given date, including the time and location. To keep your professional development goals in order, I recommend recording all of your career-related events in your calendar, including internship application deadlines, professional development workshops and career fair dates.
 
Directing your career goals month-to-month by way of calendar is a great start to becoming organized like a professional. The next step in the process of total efficiency is setting weekly agendas. This means having some sort of planner or virtual task management application. While calendars set the broader roadmap for career planning, planners give you the day-day action plan for success. Beyond using a planner to keep track of your assignments, use it to manage your career development goals. I think doing a little something every day to cultivate your professionalism, even if it’s as small as doing a little reading about your intended career path, is a good idea.  Maybe check up on your LinkedIn account or do a bit of research on graduate programs you’d like to consider. I find it helpful to also keep a notebook nearby at all times. You don’t want to risk losing an idea or missing out on an opportunity someone offered to you because you didn’t write it down. Once you’ve recorded some notes on something career-related that you’d like to keep, you can put that into your planner so you don’t forget about. Depending on how organized you’d like to be, and how forgetful you are, you can decide how detailed you want your planner to be. If you need to be super organized to function, then recording everything you intend to do that day into your planner or task-management system may be helpful. Microsoft Office also has a task-manager that we have access to as Mount students. I recommend getting the mobile app for on-the-fly task-management.
 
Lastly, create a database for your professional contacts. This is an excellent way to manage your network. As you begin to network throughout your college years, you may find it increasingly difficult to keep track of all the people that you meet. The people you put into this database should be anyone who is somehow related to your professional success, including career counselors, mentors, alumni and company recruiters. You can use Microsoft Outlook, Apple Address Book, or Gmail contacts for your database. LinkedIn is also an excellent way to keep in touch with professional contacts. It’s useful to have a professional contact list that is separate from your address book in your cellphone, because all your professional contacts are in one place, not obscured by your mom, sister, and Uncle Mike. Anyone who you can see potentially reaching out to in the future for professional purposes should be added. I recommend making a note under each contact relating to your conversation with that person, or just some detail about what they do, or who they represent. This will help you from forgetting about contacts who could potentially be a valuable resource or a giver of sound advice. Recording every professional contact you meet into an organized database will help you considerably in your effort to network your way through your job search and professional career.
 
The only way to truly live up to your dreams is by recognizing and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. This challenge can be met successfully if you can organize and manage time effectively. Using a calendar, task-management system and professional contact database are three fundamental things you can do to help simplify this process. There are many tools out there designed to take the load off your mind so you can achieve what you want without becoming overwhelmed. Those who are organized see the path to success laid clearly out in front of them –make the clear path yours!
 
Until next time,
 
TMJ