• How to Make a LinkedIn Profile as a College Student

    PEARSON ACCELERATED PATHWAYS

    Screen shot of LinkedIn profile of a college student

    Important announcement: Every college student should have a LinkedIn profile! Don’t worry if you don’t have much—or any—professional work experience yet. You can still build a great presence that helps you define your career goals and connect to the professional world.

    Think of LinkedIn as your interactive resume—a place to demonstrate your skills, tell your story and network with employers and professionals so you can begin to build your career. Need help getting started? Follow these steps!

    1.       Take a professional photo

    This doesn’t have to be the standard studio headshot, but it's a good idea to have someone who can take a photo of you in good lighting looking professional.  

    Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is not the place to show off your quirky, silly or flirty side! This is where you want to explore your more refined, mature self. If you’re unsure of what to wear or how formal to go, check out some of the other professionals on LinkedIn in your field of interest. That should give you a promising idea of the etiquette and standard for that industry.

    Finally, don’t forget to smile! People want to work with friendly, well-rounded individuals, so an approachable demeanor can go a long way.

    2.       List your desired job in your headline  

    Your LinkedIn headline is a great place to define your profession. Don’t use this space to tell the world that you’re a student or what you’re studying. Instead, use your headline to tell others what role you can do or want to do.

    For example, if you’re studying Computer Science and specifically want to work as a website developer, try a headline like “Website Developer | Experience with Adobe Dreamweaver, Sublime Text & WordPress.” Maybe you’re studying education and want to become an elementary teacher? How about “Early Childhood Educator | Passionate about Montessori & nature schools”? You can even create a pitch in your headline that outlines your sense of purpose.

    People can find out where you are in the process of gaining experience, finishing school or earning certifications in the rest of your profile, so keep your headline focused on your primary career goal.

    3.       Use keywords in your About and Skills sections

    Your About section is an excellent way to introduce yourself on LinkedIn and quickly advertise your qualifications. Think of it like the Summary section of your resume and create a brief statement, about 1-2 sentences, focused on your relevant experience as well as your career-developed skills.

    Try adding in keywords and tailoring your skills to employer needs. To achieve this, check out some job listings you’re interested in and note specific requirements and desires. Also note any words or phrases used by others in your industry to describe their roles. Include as many as possible in both your About and Skills sections.

    This will help recruiters find you, since many of them search for specific skills and terms when looking for qualified job candidates.

    4.       Add relevant experience only

    Your Experience section is a place to add any work you’ve done that’s relevant to the profession you want. This is not the place to add the summer job you had at a pizza shop or your part-time position stocking shelves. Employers, hiring managers and professional colleagues don’t need to know about every paid position you’ve ever held. Not only can that distract from your qualifications, but it can clutter up your profile and make it seem like you’re not clear about your career goals or employers’ needs.

    If you’re lacking work experience, add in internships, volunteer work, leadership experience, extracurricular activities or other related involvement and training you can think of to compensate. Maybe you were a “Freelance Web Developer” who finished a website project for a friend’s business. If it’s relevant, add it! Under each job title, write a short paragraph about what you accomplished there rather than listing a bunch of bullet points. Your profile should tell more of a story about your experience than a resume would.

    5.       Beef up your Education section

    What you’re lacking in your Experience section can also be made up for in your Education section. Use this area to add in any awards, activities, academic societies you’ve been involved in or other educational accomplishments. You can even highlight relevant courses you’ve taken, particularly if they were outside of your normal schoolwork and/or recognized by known organizations.

    While you'll want to add in as much of your educational accomplishments as possibile, keep your list of schools professional by displaying only the ones that relate your profession.

    6.       Show your work under Projects

    The Projects section is where you’ll want to build your portfolio. Do you have any examples of your work such as architectural plans, photography, writing, graphic designs, spreadsheets or anything else that shows off the skills you claim you have? LinkedIn lets you share rich media and other files to let employers see exactly what you can do.

    You can optimize this section with projects from various class projects, freelance gigs or just personal projects you created specifically to highlight your skills for employers. Be sure to add in any detailed descriptions of the project and include any team members who may have contributed to the work.

    7.       Develop your story

    Now that you’ve built an awesome profile, it’s time to start developing your story. Unlike a traditional resume that gives a glimpse into your past, LinkedIn lets you show and tell your professional story by sharing posts about things you’re working on, creative ideas, industry thoughts and engagement with other professionals and industry associations.

    This type of “skill-based storytelling” is the future of the resume and will set you apart in your industry. People will be able to see who you are, how you interact and what you’re about. Getting involved in this way also helps you to keep pace with the latest industry developments and future of work.

    Look for ways to show off your abilities, insert yourself in the conversation or even develop a bit of your own branding and marketing. Through posts, videos, creative contributions and other submissions, you’ll have a better chance of getting noticed, staying relevant and finding your dream job!

    8.       Build your network

    There are plenty of professional organizations and industry associations you can join on LinkedIn. One college student had this advice for building your LinkedIn network, “When meeting someone in class, a networking event, a coffee chat or any other occasion involving a potential life connection, you may as well add them as a connection on LinkedIn!”

    LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to attach a note to any connection request. Write a little personalized message saying hello and reminding the person how you met or explaining why you’d like to connect. Once you’re connected to a core group of professionals, check out their connections on LinkedIn and begin adding secondary connections. It’s easier to add mutuals when there’s just one degree of separation.

    9.       Give to get recommendations

    Did you have a great supervisor at an internship? What about a mentor who taught you the ropes? A leader at your volunteer group who inspired you? Give them a recommendation on LinkedIn!

    The best way to get recommendations is to give them. Rather than just requesting recommendations from people you know or have worked with, give them one and they’ll likely return the favor. Try to get at least one recommendation for each role you’ve listed under experience.

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    And voilà! You’re now on your way to getting recognized in your desired profession and having a successful start to your career. Be sure to check out LinkedIn’s profile checklist as a final step. And if you’re interested in building a great student resumé next, check out this blog!

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    PEARSON ACCELERATED PATHWAYS

  • 5 Questions to Help You Choose Your Major

    PEARSON ACCELERATED PATHWAYS

    young male thinking with hand under chin, looking up, in red shirt, against light blue background

    Picking a major is a… major decision! Need some help? Our advice is to start with the end in mind. We don’t mean what you want to do in college. Instead, think about what you want to do after college. 

    That can seem like a difficult place to start, especially since careers paths aren’t straight lines with final destinations. However, it’s important to gain a general idea of what you’d like to do before figuring out what type of education you’ll need.

    This will require a bit of research and soul-searching, so grab some paper and get ready to answer some questions!

    First, let’s consider the skills and competencies you already have.

    1.       Who are you?

    Knowing your gifts, talents, likes, dislikes, goals and aspirations is the first step. That’ll make it easier to match your capabilities with the opportunities and needs of society. The point isn’t to decide your future. It’s to start gaining momentum in a direction you’re confident in.

    Write down your answers to the following questions:

    • What activities and subjects are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? 

    Examples: baseball, volunteering with children, organizing the spice cabinet. Identifying your strengths will help guide you toward a career that you’ll look forward to every day. 

    • What activities and subjects are you bad at? What do you not enjoy? 

    Examples: talking on the phone, Algebra, being indoors. Identifying your weaknesses is just as helpful as identifying strengths. This will help you understand what kind of jobs aren’t for you. 

    • What projects have you completed that make you proud?

    Examples: I built a model airplane, created a social media campaign, canvassed for an environmental cause. This will help you identify what kind of jobs you find fulfilling.

    • How do you like to spend your free time? 

    Examples: playing video games, traveling, exploring the outdoors. This will help you determine your job preferences and desired lifestyle.

    2.       What are your skills and preferences?

    Now, let’s look at all the answers you’ve provided so far. Try to identify the underlying skills, preferences and personality traits that connect your answers. Really stretch here—look for commonalities. This will help you identify employable skills and your work style.

    Example: Someone who listed “blogging” under their likes and “Physics” under their dislikes, might find the following commonalities: 

    My skills: Writing, communication, storytelling
    My preferences: Creative projects, things that don’t require math or science

    Now it’s your turn! Create two columns labeled skills and preferences and write down yours.

    3.       What do you want? 

    Now that you understand a little more about yourself, your skills and your preferences, let’s think about what you’d like in return. We don’t mean just a paycheck. Job benefits extend beyond compensation. Some of the more important job benefits are found in the work itself or even in what that job allows you to do outside of work. 

    Think about the kind of life you want to lead and let that guide you toward a career that will support those unique aims—either directly or indirectly. 

    Answer the following questions: 

    • What are some of your personal goals? 

    Do you want to climb Mount Everest? Direct a movie? Climb the corporate ladder? Change lives through social work? Write it down! 

    • Is there anything you want to improve in the world? 

    Working isn’t just about earning a living. It’s about giving back and being a positive influence on society. What positive influences do you feel the world needs? 

    • What is your ideal lifestyle and salary? 

    Do you want to live on the beach in California? Do you want to work from home, retire early? What does “the good life” mean to you? 

    4.       What are your top 5 careers? 

    Now it’s time to combine the “skills and preferences” lists you made with your notes on goals and lifestyle to find some actual professions that are perfect for you.  

    Warning: This will take a little research! Here’s how to get started:

    • Check out job listings.

    The internet is your friend here. Check out some job listing websites and search for the skills you listed earlier. If you’re having a tough time coming up with ideas, don’t feel dumb Googling things like “active professions” or “jobs that work with kids.”

    • Research different jobs in the same field.

    If you know you’re interested in journalism, that doesn’t mean you have to become the next Lois Lane. Lots of people (with lots of different skill sets) work in journalism—writers, reporters, editors, freelancers, marketers, etc. Keep your mind open and see what’s really out there!

    • Check out career salaries.

    Every career advances. As you gain more experience, your compensation will rise too. So, when comparing careers to your “ideal salary,” don’t just look at the starting salaries. Think about the future of that career too. 

    Now, based on your research, make a list of your top 5 dream careers! 

     Example:

    1. Video Production
    2. Video and Graphics Editor
    3. Graphic Designer
    4. Multimedia Specialist
    5. Content Strategist

    5.       Which college majors apply to your career choices? 

    Now that you understand where you want to head after college, choosing a major is as simple as researching the career choices you picked and doing a bit more digging to find out their educational requirements.

    For each of the five careers you listed, answer the following questions: 

    • Does this career field require a degree or other credential? If so, what kind? 
    • Is an associate degree enough to get started? Will you need a bachelor’s? A master’s? Or can you get started just by earning a certification?
    • Does this career require a specific major? What majors do industry professionals recommend? 
    • Which of these majors most excites you, fits with your interests or aligns with your personal goals? 
    • Can you find an internship or mentor to make sure you really like this field?

    Congratulations—You did it

    You’ve successfully narrowed your college options from “I don’t know—anything, I guess” to just a few highly-specific target majors that are guaranteed to get you started in the right direction.  

    Now, do college your way. 

    Ready to find out more about your final major picks and craft the perfect college experience for that major? We can help!

    At Accelerated Pathways, we empower you get the degree you want, from the school you want, at the speed you want… all without going into debt. Our students are free from the limitations of traditional college—no classrooms, set schedules or overpriced textbooks!

    No matter what career or major you’re interested in, you can do it faster—and cheaper—by knocking out college credit with Accelerated Pathways. 

    Click here to learn more

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    PEARSON ACCELERATED PATHWAYS

  • What to Know Before You Start

    Peter Marshall

    close up of graduate hands holding college diplomas

    The decision to start or return to college comes with a range of emotions… excitement, motivation and even nervousness. Here’s the good news: These feelings are normal! Having been a Success Coach Manager for 12 years at Accelerated Pathways, I’ve worked with thousands of students through all the ups and downs of getting a degree.

    To help you along your journey, here are a few things to know before starting your online education.

    1.       Plan ahead

    Studying at your own pace is a key advantage of Accelerated Pathways. However, it can be dangerous if you don’t develop a plan ahead of time.

    Before starting, determine how many study hours you’ll need to set aside weekly to complete your course. For example, it takes 10 hours of study each week to complete a course in eight weeks. Find your course term length and then figure out how many hours you’ll need to study each week to complete that course on time.

    Next, figure out when those hours will take place during your week. The orientation course has a calendar that you fill out to know when to study. Work with your Success Coach on a plan to adhere to those study hours. I tell my learners this: Protect your study hours, treat them like a part-time job and you will be successful!

    2.       Find a routine

    Studying autonomously has amazing benefits. It allows you to study the way that works best with your personal learning style. However, this also requires discipline.

    Here’s one tip to be successful while studying autonomously: Find or create a study area that’s free from distractions. Throughout my master's degree, I had one place I studied. All my study needs were there—my computer, notecards, pens and highlighters. My phone was left in another room, so I’d use a computer timer to set my study for 25 minutes. Then I’d take a five-minute break before returning to study for another 25 minutes. This routine helped me to graduate in 10 months!

    Be sure to work with your Success Coach to find a routine that works best for you. Because Accelerated Pathways courses are similar, once you’ve found a schedule pattern that works, it’ll most likely work for the rest of your courses.

    3.       Discover your intrinsic motivation

    Here’s one of the most important things I’ve discovered over the last decade as a Success Coach: Learners with intrinsic motivation are often more successful than learners who rely on external motivations such as a better job, more pay or even encouragement from others. While these are great to have, they don’t provide an immediate reward for learners. They’re future motivators.

    Intrinsic motivation is the desire within a learner to better themselves. They want to complete tasks and assignments because it helps them feel better about themselves and gives the immediate reward of self-improvement. They feel joy and motivation when learning something new, completing a course or turning in an assignment.

    To build your intrinsic motivation, try to recall the desire within yourself to want to go to school. Focus on why you wanted to challenge yourself and how you’re building your personal development each time you sit down to study. This will drive you forward, and you’ll be able to find that immediate satisfaction in a job well done.

    4.       Stay connected

    One of the biggest challenges of online learning is the isolation that comes with it. You study alone. You go to class alone. You make your study plans alone. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression and burn out.

    That’s why Accelerated Pathways pairs you with a supportive Success Coach, so you are not doing this alone. However, we also encourage you to find an accountability partner or partners. Your coach is there when you need to vent, create study plans or solve learning obstacles. But having someone you can see and interact with in real life will provide more complete support and help ease the feeling of isolation.

    Look for a friend, family member or fellow student who can help you with study ideas and hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set. This will take honesty and often stepping outside of your comfort zone but having this type of community support will be important to your success!

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    Just starting your journey with Accelerated Pathways? Remember, your Success Coach is always just a call or email away. We’re here to cheerlead you from start to finish, help you reach your full potential and celebrate when you fulfill your goals. You've got this!

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    Peter Marshall