Whether you are in the beginning of your career or looking for ways to advance, if you address these four areas, you can successfully manage your career.
1. Owning Your Career
You may think that your company is going to manage your career, but in most cases this does not happen. You are responsible. What are you doing to seek out information from role models and mentors to help you determine your career path? Look a level or two ahead of you and ask that person questions like, “How did you get to this position? What was your path?” Then ask yourself, “How can I develop myself to get there?” Ten percent of what you learn is from taking classes; 20% is from a coach/ mentor/ boss;, and 70% is through on-the-job experiences. Seek out opportunities to be put on projects and to help out. Possess the motivation, show that initiative, and don’t forget to master the job you have now.
2. Create/Develop Your Skill Set
Is your company laying people off, but hiring people, too? Welcome to the world of shifting work skills. You need to take the emotion out of it and look forward to the growing industries and the skills required to be successful where the growth is. Technology, healthcare and hospitality are examples of growing industries. Assess yourself. What skills do you possess that will transfer? How can you sell that to a future employer? What new skills must you acquire to be successful? What most people want in a job is 1) challenge 2) balance and 3) authenticity and passion. Find your passion. Companies are open to employees from other industries as long as the skills are there.
3. Create Your Personal Brand
It’s amazing at how little time and energy people put into planning; whether it is for their next interview, their next career move, or even a networking event. Take the time to create short commercials about each point of your resume. What did you do, what did you learn, what was the result? Understand yourself and prepare one- or two-minute stories that tell the listener who you are and what’s unique about you. Practice! By understanding yourself and preparing your message, you are creating your personal “brand.” Once you master this, take it to social media and make your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook, and your Twitter feed portray the authentic message that you control.
4. Be a Leader
All employers want leaders in their organization. Leadership is complex; it grows over time. Anyone can demonstrate leadership. It’s not always the highest performers that employers want to hire and promote, but the ones that have the highest potential to lead. What are some ways to develop leadership? Find the holes in your organization. Where can you make the biggest contribution? Get involved; raise your hand for additional projects. Does it mean putting in extra time? Of course it does! Do the work associated with the next level. Be agile, flexible, and develop new skills. It’s a choice you make. If you are caught leading; you may be identified for that next level position! Being a team player is essential in today’s market. It’s a “we” environment. Develop an “I am here to serve, to help you/ manager/company succeed” attitude.
Interested in more? Here are some Recommended Readings:
Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves
You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, by Mark Sanborn
(Article provided to CPC by Fairfield University Alumni Relations )
Samantha MacDonald ’11 – An alumna from the Class of 2011 shares her experience.
Samantha MacDonald graduated from Fairfield in 2011 with a degree in international business and management, and promptly got a job as a mutual fund account administrator at BNY Mellon. “The job market was tough after graduation,” Samantha noted, “I took the opportunity I was given, I was lucky to find a job.”
A little over a year into her job, Samantha knew that finance was not the right field for her. She figured out that she wanted to work in public relations or advertising, but didn’t know how to go about making the change.
Deciding What to Do
Even after realizing that finance was not for me, it was difficult to decide where to go next. I learned that knowing what you don’t like is just as important to knowing what you do like. I decided to do a little “soul searching,” and combine my interests and strengths. I was always interested in brand management and marketing, and my strengths included writing and creativity. This led me to believe that a career in public relations or advertising would suit me well.
How Fairfield Helped
Fairfield had been an excellent resource when I was an undergraduate. I worked with Cath Borgman (director of career planning center) during that time, and she offered advice surrounding potential careers, interviews, and resume development.
After signing up for Fairfield’s “Boston Young Alumni Job Search Workshop,” I got in touch with the director of Alumni Career Services at Fairfield, Julie Tuozzoli, and started working directly with her regarding my career switch. From providing me with industry resources to helping me rewrite my resume and re-shape my LinkedIn profile, Julie was a tremendous help.
Networking, Networking, Networking
In my pursuit to change careers I explored many paths. First, I worked with Julie to re-shape my resume, cover letter outline, and LinkedIn profile. Then, I reached out to the Fairfield community. I found local graduates in the Boston area through the FAN (Fairfield Alumni Network). Everyone was very responsive and happy to answer my questions. I set up a few meetings and phone calls with people who worked in public relations and advertising.
Next, I made use of my personal network by reaching out to family and friends for advice or hints about potential job openings.
Lastly, I took advantage of workshops and networking events. Although not yet a member, I attended my first Pub Club (Publicity Club of New England) writing workshop. I networked with young professionals and got the chance to set foot inside a big Boston ad agency for the first time. I also attended a few networking/career events hosted by Fairfield. I connected with alumni in a variety of industries and received helpful advice. As a result of these experiences, I gained a great group of personal resources.
Although I hadn’t used it much before this experience, LinkedIn became an excellent resource as well. I began joining groups related to public relations and advertising, and reaching out to local Fairfield graduates. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses I received. Through one Fairfield graduate, I connected with a local woman who was starting a health non-profit in the community. It turned out that she was looking for a communications assistant for her launch. I needed the writing experience, and she needed some assistance. While at BNY Mellon, I simultaneously held a part-time internship with this local non-profit. It was tough to balance the two jobs, but well worth the experience.
A Full-Time Internship
I met a lot of helpful—and realistic—people on my journey to a new career. I quickly learned that public relations and advertising were difficult fields to break into. After a long haul of applying for jobs that I didn’t yet have the experience for, I realized that an internship might be my ticket in the door for this particular industry. Through traditional online searching, I found a full-time internship at Regan Communications Group, a well-known public relations firm with clients in the consumer, lifestyle and hospitality sectors.
I left my full-time position at BNY Mellon for this opportunity. As crazy as it sounded at the time, I knew that this would be my chance to make a career switch. For seven months, I served as a public relations intern, in which I worked on major client accounts in the hospitality and nonprofit sectors. I created and edited media advisories, press releases, news stories, and coverage reports for clients and special events. I was able to grow my knowledge of print, digital, and social media outlets by working on different writing assignments, media clips, and newspaper pitches.
After my internship experience, I landed a job as a copywriter/Internet marketing specialist at Web Solutions, a Connecticut-based web design, Internet marketing and branding agency. The experience has been very exciting and motivating – I love my new career!