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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Words of Wisdom For Graduates

Graduation originally uploaded by Peter F. Martin.
Drew McLellan from Drew's Marketing Minute needs our help. He's looking to give back to young graduates in Help me give college grads a fighting chance by gathering as much advice as possible that he will capture in an e-book.

I have a wonderful nephew who graduated last June from U.Va., and a terrific niece who just started at Villanova, so have a vested interest in making sure that they get this e-book!

Drew encourages all of us - including YOU, dear reader - to contribute to this worthy project! Simply address any of these topics in the comment section of his post [or forward me your thoughts and I'll get them to Drew]:

+ How you landed your first job (war/success story)
+ What you wish you had known when you were trying to get your first job
+ Advice for someone trying to break into the marketing/advertising business
+ Words of wisdom about careers in general

He reminds us: "Someone helped you once upon a time. Time to return the favor."

Here goes!

When I think about my first work experiences after college, I can't help but consider each individual job experience as well as the entirety of these experiences before business school in terms of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

At first, it's about physiological needs: figuring out what's what and where [my workspace/desk, the lunchroom, the bathrooms...] and what the basics are [phone number, passwords, dress code, responsibilities...].

Then, it's about safety & security: how quickly can I absorb all of the newness? how can I fit it? how can make it beyond whatever the trial period is? can I position myself for an early evaluation to get feedback? how have others been successful in this position? what's critical?

Next, comes love & belonging: who has an interesting perspective on the job/company/marketplace? can I get to know that person? who might offer advice? how can I get more involved?

Then, self-esteem & esteem of others: I'm really proud of what I am contributing. how can I add more value? within the organization and outside of it?

And finally self-actualization - am I pursuing my passions? how can I develop further? can I do it in this environment?

From that perspective:
+ Definitely be dependable, professional, punctual, responsible, courteous... Commit to deadlines and meet those deadlines.

+ Keep a positive attitude, be interested and enthusiastic. If you can't be upbeat and professional, then find another job where you can be, otherwise you will enter into a vicious cycle of unhappiness.

+ Be an information sponge. Watch, listen, absorb. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Understand the big picture and appreciate that even the smallest details matter to that big picture. Look at the big picture from your customer's perspective, and your customer's customer's perspective. Can you improve on anything?

+ Be flexible and willing to take on even the most boring jobs. Can you be creative in how you get those jobs done? [I once had to sharpen pencils for my boss. To ensure that he always had ready access to sharpened pencils, I bought him an electric pencil sharpener. Never again did he have to wait on me for perfect pencils!]

+ Finally, don't get caught up in internal politics. Therein lies the road to ruin!

Be sure, too, to refer to Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni's post titled Five Tips to Succeed at Work. She succinctly addresses success at work from the perspective of the strategist, the investor, the connector, the master thinker and the business statement - advice valuable not only to a recent graduate, but to anyone serious about success at work!

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