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6 min read

Ace College and Your Career with These 6 App Workflows

By Emily Irish · July 20, 2017
automation-for-college-student primary img

There’s no denying it—software and technology play a massive role in pretty much every industry.

Yet even while software know-how is becoming a standard requirement for jobs, most colleges won't teach you even the basics of popular business software. It’s up to you to find and learn the software that will help you impress employers.

job listings requiring Zapier knowledge

The good news is that many of the top business apps offer a freemium model, so you can start gaining skills with these tools right away, even if you're a broke college kid. As a bonus, you can use these apps to make yourself more productive and efficient with your studies.

That's where Zapier comes in. Zapier is a tool that helps you build code-free workflows between the apps you use every day, so you can spend less time on robot-work and more time on the skills you’ll take into your future career.

Experiment with workflows between hundreds of the Web’s most popular business apps. From G Suite to Slack to Trello, MailChimp, Asana, and Pipedrive—you name it, and you can probably build an integration with it.

And yes—put it on your resume. (In fact, many job openings these days even list experience with or knowledge of using Zapier as a requirement or a plus.)

The following Zapier workflows will help you get familiar with some of the best business tools on the market, while also helping you to organize and manage your schedule, tasks, notes, and projects.

Stay Organized with Less Effort

Google Calendar for Students
Google Calendar. Works like magic.
[My Zaps] helped me stay on top of my work from week to week by making sure I was setting clear goals and reflecting on how the last week went.

Nat Eliason, entrepreneur, Carnegie Mellon Class of '15

Assignments, tasks, and deadlines—oh my! With so much to keep track of, it’s tough to stay on that "yellow brick road" leading to good grades. You know being more organized would help, but do you really have the time to step back, figure out, and set up a good organization system?

Yes! You do! Or, more accurately, the robots do. Set up an automated system for your notes, deadlines, and tasks—then forget about it and focus your energy on getting that paper done.

For example, entrepreneur and Carnegie Mellon alumni Nat Eliason set up a workflow of weekly Trello cards, new weekly and monthly Evernote notes, and a series of reminders to help him set aside time for reflections and goal setting in the midst of his busy schedule.

Create Trello cards weekly at scheduled time

Create Trello cards weekly at scheduled time
  • Schedule by Zapier logo
  • Trello logo
Schedule by Zapier + Trello

Take notes on tasks and assignments in class via Evernote or OneNote and have them automatically create reminders, calendar events, even tasks in your to-do app of choice with these Zaps (our word for automated workflows).

If a lot of your class communication comes through email, leverage your inbox to trigger workflows that send relevant information to the place where you can actually act on it.

(For example: professor emailing you reading assignment PDFs or very detailed emails? Automatically send them to a Google Drive folder with the notes and materials from your class, so you don’t have to dig for the PDF later. You can even have Zapier text you when a new file hits your Google Drive, so you don’t have to obsessively check your .edu address.)

Get reminders about all your important classes, deadlines, and assignments—in the way that fits most naturally with your workflow. Whether you want to receive text message reminders or just want to make sure that your calendar (aka, second brain) is always 100% up to date, these Zaps can help:

Get Assignments in Your To-Do List App, ASAP

Add Emails to Your To-Do List
Gmail and ToDoist

You’re juggling a lot of credit hours. Hyper-organized though you might be, sometimes it’s just too easy for an assignment to slip through the cracks. So why risk that last-minute panic when you could make sure your assignments always make it into your inbox—automatically?

Here’s how it works. With Email by Zapier you can set up a custom address. Then set up a mail filter in your .edu mail client to auto-forward assignment emails to your new Zapiermail address. This custom email address then acts as the trigger for a workflow that you define in Zapier. Your forwarded emails will then go straight to your favorite to-do app as a new task, with the details you define in Zapier.

Do your teachers send emails with lots of assignment details in the message body—details you don’t want to miss? Or are your assignment titles not included in the email subject line? Use Zapier’s Email Parser tool as an extra step to extract key details from your professors' emails and send those details into your to-do app.

Voila! Now your to-do list will automatically update with your latest assignments and what you have to do to complete them, so you can focus on actually doing those assignments.

Don’t Let Due Dates Sneak Up on You

ToDoist and Google Calendar
Send your tasks directly to your calendar

Assignments, quizzes, exams, group project deadlines—there’s a lot to keep track of at school. Let Zapier help you focus on actually doing the work by taking over all of your reminders.

Simply track assignments in the to-do app of your choice, then set up Zapier to automatically copy task deadlines to your calendar. (Alternatively, you can set up your own deadlines in Google Calendar.)

You can even add a step to your Zap or create a separate Zap to text you a predetermined time before the deadline. A recommendation? Either add several reminders, or set your reminder a day or two before the deadline. That way, if you’re behind (and we all procrastinate), you still have some buffer time to get your work done.

Supercharge Group Project Collaboration

Track project ownership and progression with Trello.

Group projects often bring with them many heartaches and hurdles. But never fear—there’s an app for that (well, actually several). Two of the most important success factors for group projects are good communication and having enough check-ins and solid deadlines.

I've used Zapier to send me text/Slack notifications for new bug reports on group programming projects. That was always very helpful.

Nat Eliason, entrepreneur, Carnegie Mellon Class of '15

If we had to recommend just a couple of apps for managing your group project, we’d have to include Slack, Asana, and Trello. Slack is a team chat program that allows you to organize discussion channels and use notification bots. Asana is a free project management tool based around shared checklists. Trello is a kanban board project management tool that helps you track your tasks through stages.

Learn more about each of these tools and how you can use them for your group projects in 20+ Productivity Apps for College Students and Young Professionals

With these apps and Zapier, you can build a streamlined workflow for your projects that supports communication, keeps your project on track, and monitors deadlines. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Share Notes with Friends

Google Docs
Collaborate on notes with Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful collaborative tool. Get a 365º view of your classes by comparing notes with your friends and classmates—automatically. Take notes in Evernote or OneNote, then let Zapier use those notes to create Google Docs that are shared with your friends (since everyone has a Google account, right?). Then it’s easy to comment or collaborate within Google Docs, to share ideas, perspectives, and discuss the material.

Manage Student Organization Work

Google Sheets and Gmail Zap
Quickly send mass emails with Google Sheets and Gmail.

Getting involved in one or more student organizations is a good idea for many reasons, including developing crucial soft skills, building your network, and buffing up your resume. But it’s also a lot of work.

Take a good hard look at the work you do every day in your organization. Does all of it really require your unique human skills and oversight? If the answer is "no," take a look at some of the ways you can automate the repetitive and time-consuming parts of your role, so you can focus on the parts that you really care about.

Do you do marketing for your student organization? Zapier can lend a hand, from helping you automate social media, to managing forms and subscribers, to helping you curate your blog or newsletter.

Are you an administrator in your student organization? Zapier can help you manage club finances, recruitment, and project management with free tools like Paypal, Google Sheets, Trello, Gmail, and many more.

With 6 months of free Zapier and access to hundreds of great free apps, there’s a lot you can automate on a limited—or even no—budget. For more ideas, visit our Zap Templates Collection for quick ways to automate social media, project management, file management, human resources, and more.

As with many things in life, the best way to get started is to dive in and start experimenting. Try new app combinations while building your own workflows. Have fun with GIFS. Find new ways to build efficiencies into your schedule. Automate your way around daily hurdles.

And when you finally step into that shiny new career, you can be confident knowing that the robots work for you.

Want more tips to help you succeed in college? Here are some of our favorites:

Graduation image by Baim Hanif.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'