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Whether you decide to go to college, join the workforce, start your own business, or take any other path after high school, there are always opportunities to learn in ways that will ultimately help your career. Taking real-world knowledge and implementing it into your life can help you move up the ranks faster and start making money now.
To start, think about these five tips:
1. Jump into LinkedIn
If you haven’t joined LinkedIn yet, do so immediately. While all your friends might be focused on Instagram or Snapchat, LinkedIn provides you with unbelievable access to the business world. As the largest professional social network, it’s where you should be looking to build yourself up online so that when someone Googles you, they’ll be able to find your professional presence, not just what you’re doing for fun on TikTok.
Once you create a LinkedIn profile, start to join groups relevant to your career interests. Whether you’re interested in marketing, hospitality, technology or almost anything else, there are multiple groups you can join. In these groups, you’ll find relevant content you can learn from, and you can start to network with people in these fields.
By being on LinkedIn, you’ll put yourself so much further ahead than your friends who ignore this platform.
2. Gain experience by volunteering
When you join LinkedIn, you may not have a lot of work experience to add, but don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to gain solid experience through volunteering, and you can add that experience to your LinkedIn profile.
Start by going to your local Chamber of Commerce or trade associations to see if you can volunteer at their events or help out in some other way. Doing so helps you learn about the business world and gain some new skills from important professionals in your community.
You can also volunteer at conferences that come to your city, or even at events like concerts, where you can offer to help with social media promotion, ticket sales or anything else that gives you some work experience. No matter how big or small the experience may seem, there are always skills to learn that you can use to impress other businesses.
3. Think about your social media presence as your personal brand
When you posted on social media in high school, you may not have been thinking about how that will look to employers and other businesses you want to connect with, but it’s important now for your social media channels to reflect the personal brand you want to build. That way, when people look you up, they’ll see what you have to offer professionally, rather than judging you based on inappropriate content you may have posted in the past.
So go back through your profiles and delete old content you wouldn’t want professionals to see. Your content doesn’t have to be entirely serious, but you don’t want anything embarrassing. And to start building your brand, find ways to add additional content that relates to your professional interests. For example, if you’re interested in writing, try blogging on LinkedIn or on sites like Medium. If you’re interested in video production, create vlogs on sites like YouTube.
Building your personal brand at a young age is a good investment that can translate into money over time, as you network with professionals on social media and build a presence where businesses can see your skills.
4. Reach out to businesses and influencers you want to work with
To start gaining experience with high-profile people and businesses you want to work for, you have to put yourself out there and be persistent. Start by making a list of around a dozen brands or influencers you’re interested in, and then reach out to them on Instagram, through email or however else you can try to get a hold of them. When doing so, state upfront what you’re willing to do for them for free that helps them.
For example, many businesses and influencers, myself included, are always looking for people with photo and video skills. If you’re interested in that, get a camera and start learning these skills. Then reach out to brands and influencers and offer to take photos or video for them, such as when they’re at a conference in your area. Or if you’re interested in writing, offer to help them create blogs or social media content on topics you’re knowledgeable about.
Be persistent with your outreach. You can’t message someone once and give up. Keep trying, state what value you bring each time, and you’ll improve your odds of getting through to them.
5. Start to earn money while gaining experience
In addition to reaching out to companies and influencers to offer free work, you can use your age to your advantage to start making money. Many brands want to improve their youth marketing, so offer to teach them what people your age are looking for from brands online, or offer to create content that makes an impact on your peers.
While you may not connect with big brands right away, start by approaching local businesses and offer to work for around $12 to $15 per hour to get your foot in the door, make some money and gain valuable experience.
You can also make money right away by driving for Lyft or Uber. While you’re driving, you’ll meet all sorts of people that you can network with to ultimately help your career.
By following these tips, you can set yourself up for long-term success a lot sooner than if you wait around to move up the corporate ladder. Use your social media skills and your age to your advantage, and you can be on your way toward a successful career.
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