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ExPRessions :: young professionals

Posts Tagged ‘ young professionals ’

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Guest Post by: Hannah DeMilta (@HannahDemilta)

Attending classes and doing your homework is often not enough to secure a job after graduation. You have to be proactive and constantly networking, willing to take on multiple internships perhaps even a post-grad internship before landing that entry-level position. While the job market remains competitive, there are several things undergrads can do to help get ahead. I speak from the experience of a public relations major, but most of these tips could be applied to any major.

Learn from the best: If you are interested in public relations and healthcare, you should probably know who the leaders in this field are. This might require doing some research. Follow them on twitter and read blogs and articles. If you aren’t sure who the leaders in your field are, don’t be afraid to ask someone to point you in the right direction. Always be looking ahead to those influencers and learn from them because one day you want to be them.

Intern as much as possible: One internship experience is great, but 10 internship experiences are even better. I’m NOT suggesting you intern for the sake of interning, but if you can continue to gain skills and make contacts, you definitely should. Take your four years of college to really learn what career possibilities are out there. I’ve gotten something different out of each of my internships. Multiple internships also teach you to work for different people with different style of management. Learn what styles work for you.

Network at events that are not “networking events”: It’s great to attend networking events, especially if they are geared toward students. These are often set-up to be focused on the students and they can help you “get comfortable” chatting with professionals. However, I would challenge you to seek other events not just for students. Attend tweet-ups and popular meet-ups in your area. Meet professionals that aren’t expecting to see a student. It may be more intimidating at first but you’ll also gain a lot of respect for being professional and thinking on a larger scale.

Ask questions, ask A LOT of questions: This is something I regret not doing at my first internships. I wouldn’t want to bother people so I would sometimes limit my questions. I’m not referring to just asking questions about projects you are working on, I mean any questions. If you want to know why your boss is pitching to one news station but not another, ask. Be polite, but remember you are there to learn. Small details matter and you should always be curious to learn.

Send thank you notes: It’s a known rule to send a thank you note after an interview but I think there are other times a thank you can be issued. Definitely thank someone for a written or verbal recommendation. You don’t have to write a message, you can send an email or direct message them on Twitter. Sometimes you can just thank someone for their guidance or mentoring. Be genuine, and don’t thank everyone on your contact list to suck up. Give thanks where thanks is due and it will be remembered.

What other advice would you give to an undergrad to get ahead? What are some ways young professionals can achieve success?

Hannah DeMilta is a senior Public Relations major at Otterbein College with a minor in Deaf Culture and Language (ASL). She is the site manager and PR coordinator for SportsNetworker.com and current communications intern for Al Jamiat Magazine. Hannah is passionate about community service and working with others. Feel free to connect with her on twitter.

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Win a copy of Young Professional’s Guide to Success. Comment on, tweet about or blog about blog posts posted from today to Dec. 21 to gain points to win. Read the contest rules here. I have three copies to give away!

ScrabbleRyan Kohnen, author of Young Professional’s Guide to Success, compiled advice and stories from CEOs, executives and community leaders for his book. Here is an interview with Ryan, who has donated three copies of his book to give away on this blog.

Is there a trait or attitude you see repeating in the stories that led these people to success?

There are two major traits I saw with these executives and leaders. First, they experienced as much as they could within every role they had. They threw the job description out the window and did whatever their superiors said to do AND more. Far too often, young professionals get asked to do things that they may feel are beneath them or not part of their job description. These were the opportunities that these CEOs and leaders used to differentiate themselves. The worst thing you could ever say is, “It’s not part of my job description.” Not only did these leaders willfully do these small jobs outside of their scope, but they embraced the experience and found learning opportunities in them.

Secondly, these executives and leaders were always extremely prepared. I’m not talking about the big events, such as an annual performance review. I’m talking about EVERY little event. For example, if your boss says you have a meeting in four hours, but does not say what it is regarding, anticipate what it could be about. Show up prepared on a variety of topics and issues. Sometimes you may not guess properly, but sometimes you’ll be more prepared than anyone else.

How can young professionals help set themselves up for success?

Among the other items discussed, I would encourage all young professionals to practice and engage in more face-to-face communication. I’ve noticed our generation is much weaker at face-to-face conversation and communications. The importance of communication, relationship building and public speaking skills is of utmost importance when you are in major leadership role. Go to lunch with your friends instead of texting. Go to a business luncheon and TRY to ask more questions and learn from people as opposed to talking or sitting their quietly. Instead of sending that email, call the person. Ninety percent of most communication between young professionals is through technology. Try to get that to 80 percent and when you’ve hit 80 percent, go for 70 percent and so on.

You refer to Generation Y as “Generation A.D.D.” Why is this and how can millennial overcome stereotypes?

A lot of the stereotypes about our attention spans, communication style and approach to work and life, are true! Yes, I’m part of Generation A.D.D. – and I embrace these things. I have grown up with the Internet, text messaging, video games and extreme stimulation from all angles. I don’t think its about overcoming stereotypes.  It’s about showing the value in our different way of doing things and thinking.

What is the biggest mistake young professionals make?

I would go back to the biggest opportunity young professionals have – experience everything! Young professionals sometimes have a bit of “Entitlement Disorder,” where they feel like they don’t have to do certain things or are “above” performing certain duties and tasks. A lot of us are ready for the next challenge or opportunity before we are actually given the opportunity. This is probably the biggest weakness of our generation. We need to slow down and embrace some of these other opportunities and find the value in it.


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.