Sunday, February 22, 2009

Real World Session 3: What Your Professors Didn't Tell You About Your First Job

After lunch, we went to a session about the real experience you'll get in your first job.  Speakers included Rebecca Treacy-Lenda (UPS). Carrie England (Jackson Spalding), and David Jones (William Mills Agency).  Each of the speakers had a main point to make, and then opened it up for questions from the students. 

Here are my notes of the most important points:
  • Just because you're graduating doesn't mean you stop learning - be a student in your first job!
  • Throughout the first several years of your career, continue to work on building your personal brand.
  • PR is more than just the traditional activities you learn in school - you do deal with money and create value for your form.
  • It's very important to understand office politics in order to fit in at your first job.
  • Our generation is typically perceived as one that expects things to be handed to us, lacks face-to-face communication skills (especially in light of the social media movement), and is unwilling to put in our time and pay our dues.  Be aware of and overcome these stereotypes!
  • When you ask questions, ask the right person (ie: don't ask the VP where to find the stapler).
  • An entry-level position is usually just a very small step up from an internship - you may still have "busy work" tasks, but this is so you'll understand the "why" behind everything the firm does.
  • You have to be able to prove you can excel at the basics of your job before you can expect to be trusted with bigger responsibilities.
  • Know the environment you're working in, and feel the company out during the interview to find the right fit for you - ask people why they like working there.
  • Make an impression, even if you have to suck up a bit - make sure you gain respect from the beginning
  • In the first 6 months of your job people pay special attention to you - dress appropriately (even more formal than the rest of the office), be on time (or early), make all of your work (even "drafts") flawless.
  • Network at every level.
  • Ask for feedback, but don't sound needy.  
  • A good boss should be involved in your work but you may need to take the initiative to make them aware of what you're doing.
  • Have an idea of what you want to do even beyond your first job - set clear goals that are not client/job specific.
  • Take initiative - generally you won't just be handed more responsibilities unless you demonstrate you're prepared for them.

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