Okay, that seems a bit simplistic. One word and the entire article is done. But let me explain.
Some career paths are more geared toward blogs and personal websites than others. For example, I knew that I wanted to get into book publishing. A common skill required of entry-level positions in publishing is writing reviews of manuscripts, a.k.a. reading a book/story/collection of poems and submitting a written evaluation of it. Naturally, then, a way to prove to potential publishing employers that you know how to write book reviews is to have a blog where you write book reviews. Thus, having a book review blog seems essential to the college student looking to break into the publishing world.
It’s not just book publishing. Communication majors certainly feel the need to prove that they can do just that—communicate. Business majors may want to document their experiences volunteering, interning, or starting their own initiative to show off their entrepreneurial and business skills. Teachers and church workers want to demonstrate that they think deeply about their career choice and connect with their job experiences and classes deeply. Students pursuing graduate degrees want a body of work other than papers to show that they are willing to do the work and put in the hours.
The pressure to maintain a polished online presence is real—and you should definitely be thinking about how you’re presenting yourself to future employers online. But having a blog isn’t the end-all, be-all of career prep.
Employers get it. College has a lot of moving parts, and students are busy. Blogs can be hard to get started and maintain. The truth is, unless you’re aiming to be a freelance writer, you probably won’t need to refer to your blog to get a job as long as you have other experiences and skills.
Focus on these aspects of career prep instead of stressing out that you don’t have a blog:
Bolster your social media presence.
First and foremost, make a LinkedIn profile and fill it out. Use it to connect with co-workers, research jobs and industries you’d like to pursue, and search for job openings.
Then, make sure your other social media profiles aren’t going to hurt your chances at landing a job. If you don’t want your employers to see all your Instagram pics of you drinking each weekend, make your account private. (But please know that just because an account is private doesn’t mean your posts won’t get out.) If you decide to leave your Twitter public, for example, clean it up and make it look presentable. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent career focused—employers like knowing they’re hiring an actual human being—but make your posts appropriate. If you’re not sure how appropriate is appropriate for your career field, find professionals in your field and see what they post (and don’t post) on social media.
Get real-world experiences.
Getting an internship or some job experience relevant to your future career is most likely going to be more helpful to you than if you sit at home and write blog posts all summer. This depends on what your career goals are, but in general, real-world experience in your field is essential to landing a job postgraduation. If you can maintain a blog and successfully get real-world experiences, awesome! But if you have to choose between the two, practical experience is probably the best bet.
Brush up on your soft skills.
Employers want candidates who know how to communicate and think. Recruiters say that the top soft skills they look for in entry-level workers are problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration, time management, and communication. Find opportunities during your college career to improve these skills, whether that’s taking a class that will force you think differently, interning with a company, studying abroad, or leading a campus organization.
Take advantage of other opportunities to share your writing.
Now, if written communication is really a struggle for you or you want to perfect it, practicing your writing skills by writing regular blog posts might be very helpful in your personal and professional development. But starting a blog isn’t the only way to practice writing and get your writing published. Take a writing class (or audit one). Ask your employer or internship manager for opportunities to practice your writing skills, like writing for the company blog. You can also find opportunities on campus to get your writing published, whether that’s a submitting work to a creative writing journal, contributing to a campus organization’s blog, or working for your campus newspaper.
Create a personal professional website.
If you don’t think you can regularly update a blog, but still want to have an online presence, consider creating a personal professional website. Basically, make a basic website that showcases your skills, education, talents, and experiences. It’s like a resume, but more detailed. The best part about creating a professional website it that you can highlight the things you want employers to know, whether that’s your study abroad experience, your internships, or the work you’ve done to develop a campus activity or club. This is a great way to have an online presence that is 100 percent devoted to you without the burden of regularly writing and publishing blog posts.
There are plenty of ways to prepare for your future career other than stressing out over starting a blog as a college student and writing regularly for it. Focus on getting valuable real-world experience, improving your soft skills, cleaning up your online presence, and sharing your writing through other ways, and you’ll be off to a great start in your career.