While graduate students often associate business cards with professionals and those with “real” jobs, these simple cards are a must-have for MSc and PhD candidates looking to get ahead in their careers.
Why make a student business card?
- Making networking easier, more efficient and impactful. They are a simple and effective way to relay your contact information to colleagues and professionals that you meet at conferences, networking events, job fairs, coffee shops, etc.
- Forming a great first impression by showing that you are prepared, competent and confident
- Helping others remember who you are and what you can offer, making it that much more likely that they will refer you for the next exciting job opportunity
Where do you start and what do you include when designing your card? Here are the most important elements:
- Degree(s) obtained, and degree(s) in progress
- Phone number – Make sure this number leads to a professional voicemail
- Email address – Gmail is okay. Also, be aware that institutional emails may not always remain active after graduation
- LinkedIn URL – A personalized URL for a website, blog, or online portfolio showcasing your work is even better!
- The profession that you are interested in – Even if you have no related work experience, e.g., Communications Specialist and Marketing Professional
Leave out the university logo
Although many graduate students associate themselves with their university and think their business card should have the university logo on it, this is sometimes not possible when the university restricts the logo for use by staff and faculty only. However, it is not actually necessary, as you can simply list your university elsewhere, and the space you save can be used for more important information.
Twitter handles should only be included if you use Twitter for professional news and discussion in your current field or field(s) of interest. Facebook URLs should not be used in most cases.
Consider adding QR codes. QR codes can be quickly scanned by a smartphone to lead others directly to the URL of your website. This makes it even easier for others to find out more about you and contact you. A QR code can be used to fill the extra space that is usually reserved for the address of a business office (which graduate students don’t have). They can be made for free here.
Keep it simple
Although some creativity can help make your card unique and memorable, it is often a simpler and more streamlined card rather than an over-the-top and overcrowded card that is the most effective and memorable.
Where to print on a graduate student budget?
As graduate students, cost is often a concern for us. However, there are several sites that make the process easy, cheap, and even fun! Some of these are:
Tinyprints.com – A minimum order of only 10 cards is required. There are many simple business card templates and designs to choose from. No extra cost for addition of pictures.
Minted.com – A minimum order of 25 cards is required. There are more designs to choose from here than Tinyprints.
Vistaprint.com – A very large selection of designs and the most affordable. (I had mine printed here!)
Moo.com – Moo provides even more options for personalization, and also has options like plastic cards and mini-sized cards.
Now that you have business cards, remember to take them with you wherever you go. Consider getting a cardholder so that they are in great shape when you present them. You never know where and when you’ll meet your next important contact!
If you’d like to learn more about professional development for graduate students, check out our other blog series on networking. To keep updated on the latest in career development and industry trends, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for our updates!
Happy card-making and networking!