Pre-Grad is the New Post-Grad: 5 Benefits to Building Your Brand While Still In College

Don't wait until after graduation to position yourself for success

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College students are no longer waiting until after they walk across the stage to venture out into the professional world. They are building brands, starting businesses, and cultivating their careers in-between classes. Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase young professional!

Two-thirds, more than 2,000, of U.S. colleges and universities currently offer a course in entrepreneurship; it’s no wonder students are ditching the tradition, internship, route and going into business for themselves. Companies like Facebook and FedEx we restarted while their founders were still in college and have grown to become household names.This proves there is great growth potential in college start ups. Whether your kick-starting your brand with a blog or developing a new app, here’s why getting your ducks in a row pre-degree works:

1. Resources: You have access to vast research databases, high-tech equipment and professional software that could aid in developing and growing your brand. College campuses are full of resources that are hard to find elsewhere. Starting a blog or YouTube series? Think unlimited access to Photoshop and iMovie. Not only is software and technology at your fingertips but the staff are on campuses are there to educate you on how to get the best use out of them. Sweet deal!

2. Built-in brain trust: So you’re starting up a business or building your professional brand, and you have no clue how to tackle your plan? That required ECON 201 class didn’t exactly touch on market research, and you need some help piecing your ideas together? You’re in luck! College campuses have a built-in brain trust called faculty and staff. Professors,administrators and researchers who work at colleges and universities are usually well-versed in their professions and have many years of experience. They’re there to help you, so pick their brains. Being in college affords you the convenience of being able to walk right into that Business & Economics building to get your questions answered by a professor of entrepreneurship. That definitely beats hours of searching the Web for a business plan template!

3. Direct access to the consumer: If your brand or business is geared toward a demographic that includes college aged individuals, then a college campus is a goldmine of opportunity for you. You are literally surrounded by thousands of potential investors, consumers and clients! Being on campus with so many potential consumers is a great opportunity to introduce a large group of people to your productor business. Like any college campus, word travels fast and before you know it you have a bunch of inquiries. A Campus is a great place to get feedback as well. Large companies pay big bucks for consumer feedback. All you’ve got to do is recruit a diverse group of your peers and maybe offer them pizza for their participation.

4. Discounted promotion: Marketing and promotion is vital to growing any business.However, major television, radio and magazine ads can be a very costly expense for a budding brand or business. However, most college campuses have their own radiostations, newspapers and television stations that students can promote through for littleto no cost. Picture a feature on your business plastered across the front page of yourschools paper. Imagine your schools radio station inviting students and locals to attendyour business’ launch event? Awesome, right? Not to mention, academic departmentsand schools also enjoy boasting about their stellar students. Getting your business ashout out on your department’s homepage will only take place in college. Did I mentionall this promotion is virtually FREE?

5. Office and event space: Looking for an office that’s sans-roommate or a space to host your website launch? Look no further than campus! Universities and Colleges offer their students free or discounted event and office spaces. That’s virtually nonexistent outside of a college campus, there would be rent, property taxes and decorating budgets galore. There’s absolutely no downside to a free space to host mixers, meetings, events and promo. The money saved by not having to reserve an event space could be put back into the business.

Shelby Ivey Christie is a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and founder of Bombshells in Business, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower undergraduate students in entrepreneurship via events, Web resources and networking.  It also hosts internship and career prep workshops and fairs. A fab fashionista with a passion for style trends and shopping, her insights and works have been seen in W Magazine, Charlotte Style Magazine, QCityMetro, and Charlotte Business Journal.

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