The term “branding” is often overused, but your personal brand–who you are and what you stand for–is your authentic voice that can keep you present in the workplace, even when you decide to take a break from it.

What is a personal brand

Many young women strive to build successful careers, but they may also be thinking down the line about when they decide to get married and have kids. Whether or not they decide to return to the workforce, how can they keep that brand going?

Pamela Weinberg is a career coach and Founding Partner of Mind Your Own Business Moms, working with women in various stages of career development both privately and in groups. Weinberg joined Levo League yesterday for Office Hours and provided five concrete tips for how to build a brand in the beginning of your career that will last your whole professional life.

1. Take on side projects.

Do it for fun or do it for free, says Weinberg. You never know, but down the road those side projects could turn into real, lucrative ventures for you. Side projects are also a great way to explore your passions, hobbies, and interests. Use the time you have now to delve deeper into and develop your other skills and talents.

2. Volunteer the smart way.

Take your good will to a soup kitchen, to one-off volunteer events, the library, or other local organizations and institutions. Just remember that when you take on volunteer projects to choose ones that build your resume, either in your current industry or in an industry you may want to step into down the line.

3. Build your network in and out of your own field.

There is no better time to network than before you need a job, says Weinberg, because when you’re already employed you’re not asking anyone for any favors. Start getting involved now with organizations or industries you may want to work in in the future; this takes the pressure off you to make requests and the people you network with to meet them.

4. Join professional associations in your own or a desired industry.

Professional associations are a fantastic way to learn what other opportunities may exist in a field that you may not know about that could offer better flexibility or better work-life balance.

5. Continue your education.

Take continuing education classes in a field you’re interested in. This isn’t just a key tool for building skills, for also for finding networking opportunities and learning about a new industry. We’re lucky that there are so many options to do this at local colleges, universities, and adult education centers in cities all over the world.

For more insightful advice from Pamela Weinberg, click here to watch her Office Hours.