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ExPRessions :: young professional

Posts Tagged ‘ young professional ’

Recently, @JohnKHartman made a suggestion to me via DM: “You want to be good in PR? Take upper level liberal arts classes that will make you a better, more broadly educated person, not claptrap.”

I’ve taken some liberal arts classes. But what has served me the most in my career so far has been my internships and PR classes. I hardly think that makes me a “claptrap.” Each young professional has their own set of experiences giving them an education. I’ve learned a lot through my various experiences (from carriage driver to advertising sales and writing contracts for a company to building Web sites). My experiences have taught me a lot.

So do liberal arts matter?

A Patriot-News op-ed said, “The most straightforward answer is liberal arts colleges, at their best, provide an exceptionally effective learning environment for developing the kind of intellectual power and propensity for action that the world needs to tackle the daunting challenges we face…many CEOs are looking for employees with the attributes that a liberal arts education instills: critical thinking, clear communication, collaboration, an appreciation for diverse points of view, the ability to approach a problem from multiple perspectives, ethical judgment and lifelong learning skills.”

So should a young professional take liberal arts courses?

If you have the money and time to pursue liberal arts classes, by all means do it. But, I’d honestly rather read and learn on my own time. I’ve read books on various random subjects including criminology, archaeology, art and more.

But, remember to spend time developing yourself into a marketable candidate. Focus on skills you need in the workplace (check out “5 Must-Have Transferable Skills for Entry-Level Job Seekers” by Heather Huhman).

“When I was at Burson-Marsteller, almost none of our interns and entry-level professionals had a liberal arts education. As a hiring manager, experience vastly outweighs your specific degree,” said Huhman, who is an experienced hiring manager and founder of ComeRecommended.com.

While I’m not discounting the value of the liberal arts classes, I think “intellectual power” and other great skills can be developed in other ways. I also feel that the attributes CEO’s are looking for can be developed in other ways. In fact, many of these attributes had already began to be developed from the way I was raised as a child. Additional skills have been developed when I’ve worked a variety of jobs (I’ve worked at large stables, been a carriage driver, and worked in sales, PR and advertising).

What do you think? Has a liberal arts education helped you? Or, have you been successful without? Additionally, what do you do as a professional to develop the attributes CEO’s are looking for?

2010With only a few appointments and work days during my winter break, I thought I would be very productive. But, I relaxed instead, reading novels, spending time with family and friends, baking cookies and sleeping in.

Reflecting over my last winter break before graduation, I’m glad I took time for myself. While I love being a Go-Getter Girl, I was definitely worn out after finals. In order to be happy and productive before starting my career and another semester, I needed a real break.

I found a list with 52 tips to help with happiness and productivity on Zen Habits. Happiness is linked to productivity – happy people generally work better with others, are more creative and motivated, are problem-solvers and make better decisions, have more energy and optimism, get sick less and learn faster.

Here are 10 tips for a productive new year as a young professional. In parenthesis are the corresponding numbered tips from the Zen Habit’s site that inspired my own tip.

  1. Don’t take on too much. Ambitious young professionals are known for saying yes to every opportunity. Instead of taking on additional responsibility, focus your time on the opportunities that will help you the most. (#2)
  2. Reboot your brain. You don’t have to actually meditate. Find something that calms you, like music or reading, or do something known to have a calming effect, like yoga. (#10)
  3. Keep a notebook. Lara Kretler (@LaraK) got me started on doing this and it has helped me stay organized. She used a composition book at work to keep notes in for everything (or so it seemed to me) and she always seemed incredibly organized. I now have two notebooks – one for work and one for everything else. For work, I take notes at meetings and about assignments. The other notebook holds my to-do lists, grocery lists, ideas and other random things. (#11)
  4. Figure out what you want. Don’t buy into the “you’re a college student, so you don’t have to choose now” idea. Research industries, job shadow at companies and figure out where you might like to be working when you graduate. Think about things, such as whether or not you want to stay in the state or if you want to have kids. You need to know what you want in order to get there. (#16)
  5. Set short and long term goals. Once you know what you want, you need to figure out how you are going to get there. Penelope Trunk’s latest post on keeping resolutions has great tips on goal setting. (#17 & 18)
  6. Choose priorities. Not everyone is a to-do list person. But, you will be more productive if you know the tasks need to be done each week and which ones are the most important. (#20)
  7. Organize your e-mails. Sometimes I’m terrible at this, letting more than 100 emails pile up before I go through them all. I always feel great when my inbox is cleared and I have folders containing the messages I need to save. (#27)
  8. Learn to delegate and accept help from others. Sometimes you don’t have to be the one to do certain things. In addition to not saying yes to every opportunity, have people help you with the tasks that don’t absolutely need to be done by you. (#30)
  9. Stop trying to be a multi-tasker. You are often more productive when you focus on a single task rather than five all at once. (#44)
  10. Take time to relax. Sit down with a glass of wine and good friends or relax in a bubble bath to read a novel. You’ll be more refreshed when you get back to work if you take time for yourself. (#51)

Related posts:

Featured Professional:

Liz Presson (@elizabethcp), Brand Evangelist (Manager) for GOSO, a BOALT product in Washington, D.C.

How hard was it to find a position out of state?


Looking for a position in DC was stressful. My internship was coming to an end, and I knew that they wouldn’t be hiring due to the economy. I knew that I had to make something happen fast. For about a month I was doing five to seven interviews a week. Some were for paid internships, but most for full-time positions.

Any down time I had was completely dedicated to my job search. I went to every interview I was invited to. Even though I needed a job and was completely ready to start my career, I was not going to settle. I turned down a couple of second interviews for positions that weren’t going to fit for me.

Because I didn’t know much about the area I had to do a lot of research. I would drive around looking at names on buildings and go home and Google the names. I utilized every contact I had and just asked questions– where should I look, what companies they knew, etc.

What does your position entail?

My position requires that I head up all efforts in the promotion of GOSO,  a social media and marketing suite for automotive dealers. I not only tout the benefits of GOSO to the automotive community, but I also work hard to position the GOSO brand as a social media industry leader. This includes writing all promotional materials: web copy, commercials and blog posts. I present the GOSO product to automotive OEMs (Ford, Chrysler, etc.) and dealer principals. I utilize social media tools and I’m an advocate of the social media movement. I also help design our booth at automotive expos and conferences.

What has helped you develop your career and improve your skills?

I’m lucky enough to work closely with my superiors. The owner of the company, Adam Boalt (@boalt), gives me consistent feedback. He’s readily available and I can ask questions without hesitation. I think that finding someone knowledgeable within a company and using them as a resource is the most valuable way to learn. Honest feedback is priceless.

What has been the most difficult part the transition from full-time student to full-time professional?

As a full-time student and advertising manager at CMU, I was always busy– classes, work and homework. Any free time I had went to being a college kid, as it should. As a full-time employee, my free time is my own. It’s liberating to come home and feel free, but it’s important to decide who you want to be in addition to your 9 to 5. I love my field, and I want to be the best. So, I’ve made my job part of my life. I’m available to clients all the time, and because writing is a key aspect of my job I’m a food writer and I have a personal blog. That’s been the hardest part, deciding what my personal life is going to be like now that I have time for one.

What would you suggest to a young professional who is preparing to enter the workforce?

I suggest entering the workforce with an open mind. I had a very specific idea of what kind of public relations job I wanted, and if I wouldn’t have opened my mind I would not have the job I do today.

Be careful when applying for positions on Craigslist. I was asked to come in for an interview by email for a PR/marketing position posted on Craigslist. When I got to the place, which turned out to be a chiropractor’s office, there were at least 20 other people sitting in the room. The doctor came out and told us that he needed a PR person, but first we had to pass a test. He gave us 100 fliers and told us to go out on the street and hand them out to people who were willing to give their email addresses and phone numbers to us. Then, they would call the people the following week and whichever interviewee got the office the most business would win the position.

Did I mention that this was on an extremely hot DC summer day? I was in a full business suite with high-heals. I had my portfolio and briefcase in hand. The office was clearly getting free help by having interviewee’s work. Truly out of line, needless to say I left after about a half hour and never looked back.


Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.