Tips from the pro bag

Today, before the career fair, I went through my, “pro bag,” which is really just a fancier bag than I usually carry, and inside I keep a leather portfolio, copies of my resume on nice paper and breath mints. When I break this bag out, it’s business time (but not Flight of the Concords-style). So tonight I removed papers from my summer jobs and also came across some notes from the PRSSA UW-Madison spring 2009 conference.

As a part of the conference planning committee, I got to help select speakers and coordinate the event. It was definitely hard work to even get people to return our phone calls, let alone committ to speaking, but it turned out fine. Better than fine, actually. The sense of accomplishment we felt at seeing participants and speakers making connections and networking was very fulfilling. I’m already looking forward to the 2010 conference: As I inch closer to graduation, those career tips are becoming even more invaluable.

Anyway – my point is, I came across those notes and found that I was given some pretty good career and interviewing advice, and I want to share it with you. So without further ado…

Push yourself to prove yourself.

– You might have to get out of your comfort zone when approaching prospective employers, but not many people get jobs sitting around on their butts. If you want an amazing opportunity that you feel highly unqualified for, I’ve got six words for you: Fake it til you make it. Even if you’re not an outgoing person, put only the best parts of your personality on display and convince those employers you’re it. Once you get that job, don’t catch yourself doing the bare minimum – the real winners are the ones who lead the group and go the extra mile. Have I used enough cliches yet?

Do not gossip about people at work, don’t contribute or participate in it either.

– This is an easy one to get caught up in, especially when you’re new. Having someone confide their dislike for someone else might give you an in in the new office, but it will only complicate things further down the road. Be friendly with everyone and try to get to know as many people as possible. That’s really the best way to get a worthy in at the office – make yourself known and available to all, and pipe up when people are asking for help or advice.

Do your best to end your day at a certain time.

– There are always exceptions to this rule, but I’ve found that having a set schedule works really well for me. Knowing exactly how much time I have to get all of my goals accomplished in the day really pushes me to make the most of that time. Letting yourself take one, then two, then three little breaks will just make you feel guilty later when you see all the work that magically hasn’t done itself, and you might stay late. That can turn into a vicious cycle that starts with too much leniency and ends with late nights at work, when you should be taking that time to relax (not so much during the work day).

These are just a few of many notes I took at the conference, so in the next few weeks I’ll throw some in when I’m trying to talk careers. Also, I am by no means an experienced professional, I’m just reporting back to you what some people I respect told me. If you disagree, think I’m totally off-base, or have some commentary to add, go for it! I really do appreciate any and all feedback, especially because I’m no career expert myself and would love to learn more.

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