Developing Your Personal Brand: The Art of Selling Yourself

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Keila Garza
Nine pencils in a pencil cup. Eight of the pencils are the standard dark yellow color, but the one in the middle is hot pink.

Who Am I?

Picture this: after years of working hard in college, you find yourself interviewing for your dream job – the exact one you have pinned on your vision board. Having prepared for this opportunity, you expect positive results. You are acing every interview question until they ask, “how would you describe yourself, and what skills can you offer us?” You freeze. Describe myself? Oh no, the dreaded 30 second elevator pitch. How do I narrow down 20+ years of living to 30 seconds? What is actually important in communicating ‘who am I’?

The Secret

Well, you’re a college student, but is that all? In spite of the dramatization, many students panic and freeze in these circumstances, but should you? As a fellow college student, allow me to let you in on a not-so-secret secret: you will soon be entering the very competitive job market where such questions are commonplace! It is important to be aware and prepare yourself for this daunting task early on in your college career.

Perhaps you may have already gotten the chance to “dip your feet” into this metaphorical ocean of the job market with a hopeful heart, only to find yourself fade into the vast sea of similar job seekers. Or, like many other college students, you have not yet had the opportunity to interview for a professional role. I propose that your experiences as a student are not as shallow as you might imagine and provide a depth of knowledge from which to share.  Wherever you are in your professional job search, it’s never too early to work on a very essential part of your professional self – your personal brand.

What is a Personal Brand?

So, what exactly is a personal brand and where can you buy it? Is it expensive? Actually, you already have it; we all do. Each of us develops our own personal brand through our unique experiences and is characterized by the skills and deportment acquired over time.

Consider the classes you might take at university, or the extracurricular activities that populate your schedule. Interested in spicing up your communication and developing effective delivery techniques? Take a class on public speaking and learn the mechanics of rhetoric and nonverbal cues. Want to brush up on your collaborative skills? Join an intercollegiate sports club where you can aspire to win the championship game with your teammates. Or audition for the next performance of Hamlet with the theater club and learn what it takes to labor for weeks alongside your fellow thespians. Pursuing the skills you want to strengthen will help you begin to shape your personal brand. The important thing is not what you choose to do, but that you choose to do something at all! Just go for it!

You Can Do This!

While developing a personal brand may seem like a very daunting task which lies out of reach for the everyman, gradual steps taken in pursuit of personal development are not only attainable, but practical as well. Be intentional about developing your personal brand! You are the catalyst of your own development and success. And when you are confronted by land mines of questions from interviewers, think back to all of your experiences and how they have molded you.

Your personal brand is a tool which you can wield to your advantage; use it wisely. Cultivate your personal brand in a way that is unique to you so that you can distinguish yourself from the sea of faces and achieve your dreams. 

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