We make New Year’s Resolutions for nearly every part of our life — from new diets and fitness routines to cleaning and organizational aspirations — in hopes of bettering ourselves. If you’re a job or internship seeker, or looking to improve your work life, however, consider compiling a list of career resolutions that go beyond networking and polishing your resume. Not sure where to start? Try these:
Pair up with a mentor: No matter your age, you can always learn something from someone older and wiser. Talking about your job search with someone who’s ‘been there, done that,’ can help hold you accountable to your goals, encourage new ideas and even connect you with other industry professionals. So, where do you find a mentor? Ask friends and family if they know a seasoned professional who wouldn’t mind regularly speaking with you. Or, try your university alumni or career center to match you with someone in your desired field. Northwestern students and alums can find a few ways to connect with mentors via the Northwestern Alumni Association.
Never stop being a student: Learning doesn’t end once you’re an ‘adult’ or once you’ve graduated. Whether it’s taking up yoga, painting or cooking, there’s something rewarding about mastering a new craft. And it’s just as important to learn new tricks for your professional life as it is for your personal life. Not only does picking up a new professional skill help increase your marketability, but it also keeps you productive and motivated. Next time you’re looking for an evening class, try an Excel or web design course instead of ceramics. Your boss or potential future employer will be impressed when you mention you’re able to use a content management system or update the company website. Wondering where to find classes? Beyond your local community center or college, Chicago-based startup Dabble was founded to help learners take, teach or host a one-time class on the cheap, and is now working on expanding to 50 more cities across the globe.
Create an inspiring workspace: Whether you’re spending 9 to 5 searching for an internship from your dorm room or editing PowerPoint presentations in your cube, make the space you do it in warm and creative. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an interior decorator to update your office. A workspace refresh can mean anything from outfitting your office with comfortable chairs to keeping your desk organized, as Adam Dachis of LifeHacker recommends in a recent blog post on creating a more focused and productive work environment. It can also mean sprucing up your workplace with color, plants and artwork. Visit our UCS Pinterest board for more ideas.
Get organized (& stay that way): Maintaining organization can be hard for even the most orderly workers. But making small adjustments to your space, like purchasing file folders and organizers, or setting aside a bit of time each evening to de-clutter before heading home, can do wonders, according to Whitson Gordon of LifeHacker. But organization doesn’t stop at your desk. If you’re in the throes of job hunting, there is also a bevy of tools at your fingertips to help you manage and track the jobs you’re applying to. Alison Doyle names a few in About.com’s job search guide.
Remind yourself that you have a lot to offer: Job searching — and staying motivated at work — isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s important to take stock often of what you can offer an employer. Make a list of your strengths, keep positive company, and if there are areas you’d like to improve upon, use your spare time to perfect them. If presenting skills aren’t your strong suit, practice in front of friends or family. If you’re lacking in PowerPoint skills, take a class after work. And job or internship seekers: Don’t let a slow economy or difficult past work experience shape your career future — know that you are valuable and deserve a job that will be fulfilling to you. Need more career confidence-boosters? U.S. News & World Report On Careers blogger Curt Rosengren shares a few here.
Do you have anything to add to this list? We’d love to hear your New Year’s career resolutions!