How to Build a Personal Brand Even While You’re an Intern
Even though you may still be an intern, it’s never too early to start creating your personal brand.
Roll back to 1965. You’ve just graduated college and in an up market, have just secured a plum job now that the ink has dried on your new 4-year degree. You’re making enough money to support yourself and to have a little fun. Perhaps you’ve already started thinking about having a family, and buying that house with a picket fence. You’re working toward that dream, and with your new job, that dream is becoming a reality.
Cue up 2016 and the times they are a changin’. Even with a college degree, it may be hard to secure a full-time job. Perhaps you don’t want a house with a white picket fence. Maybe you want to live in the White House! And getting married in the next 2 years isn’t even on your radar. Working for yourself is becoming more common and more desirable.
Add to that, a little thing called the Internet has been invented, which has made the world a public spectacle.
When job hunters can tap into a 1000 candidates with one click, creating a personal brand (and not just relying on your awesome personality) is the to stand out and getting hired.
Interns are already into something!
As an intern, you may have traveled far from home to work in cities like DC. You worked hard to get there because you cared about something big time. Now all you have to do is talk about it. Here’s how to start.
Definition of a brand
First, let’s define “brand.” A brand is the way people FEEL when they interact with your marketing materials. The key word is feel.
Think Oprah, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren…they’ve taken their personal brands to an epic level and made them into household names. Why? Because they stand for something and are recognized for it. That sets them apart. You can do it too.
The first question to ask yourself is: what is that special thing that makes you really awesome?
Here are some questions to ruminate on to guide you on shaping up your own brand, and how to present it to the world.
What defines your personal brand?
- What do you specialize in or what are you expert in?
- In what ways are you different?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- What are your interests and personal passions?
- What is the style of language you use?
Answering these questions will translate into a clear picture of your unique personality to make it clear to hiring managers.
Identify your specialty
Perhaps you’re an incredible writer. Or you’re fantastic with numbers. Maybe you’ve got a knack for talking to people or making speeches. Pick that one thing that makes you great, that sparks your creative fire—something that you would do, even if you weren’t getting paid (Like interns often do!). This is your passion. Then market the hell out of it. You don’t have to be one-sided, just clear about what motivates you.
Make a killer WWW
Of course, having a website is key: it’s a virtual portfolio of your work and accolades, and an opportunity to tell your personal story. Write some articles regularly. Let your site clearly define your personality by being authentic. Find your voice. Be real.
Create a personal logo. It will show thought and professionalism, which also makes you stand out.Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix and many others provide free templates and inexpensive plans so you don’t have to hire a web developer to do everything for you.
Be all All Star on LinkedIn
Just do it. This is where all the recruiters go. Write your summary with passion and show your achievements. Write a few posts about your work as an intern and how that is changing you. How about a nice slide share on your ideas, influencers? Get creative. Link back to your website. Don’t use that picture of yourself from last Halloween—use a professional picture. Doesn’t mean it has to be boring, just polished.
Clean up your Google results
Make sure a photo of you drinking isn’t the first thing that pops up on Google images. You never know who’s looking, so it’s always wise to do an online audit before submitting to any job. Clean up what you can.
Display Other Brands or Sites You Love
Whether or not you have a ton of experience yourself, post a blogroll or articles/images, brands or key influencers that you follow. Post a list of books you’ve read, pictures of your postcard collection or a President you admire and why. This will give people a peek into your interests and tastes, to better get to you know your style—and you. This is especially great for interns just starting out in their careers and who may not have a lot of work to show for it yet.
Tell Your Story
- Who was an influence on your life?
- Where did you grow up and how did that shape you?
- Was there an event that changed your life and started you on your career path?
- How do you want to change the world?
Everyone loves a good story, but one that is authentic and upfront. Although we want to stay professional, recruiters and bosses are also human beings.
Being yourself is key to your personal brand.
Tell a unique story of how you came to your passion, your career, or how your bumpy start has led you to this path. This will connect on a heart-string level with those browsing your site, and can also be a great conversation starter. What’s your personal brand?