Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stop Tripping - 5 Actionable Steps to Get Out of Your Own Way

Based on the expertise of Christina Schmidt, Associate Director of Business Marketing – Kelley Graduate Career Services

Getting a full-time MBA requires a lot of sacrifice, but you already know that. If you’re uprooting your life and taking two full years off of work, I bet you’re willing to do everything within your power that will help you succeed. No matter how great your academics are, how many extracurriculars you participate in, or even how many people you meet, the one thing that will sabotage your efforts (if you’re not conscious) is you. Take a look at the following list and make a note to be mindful: these are things coaches see happen on a regular basis.

Not saying thank you. Kelley career coaches cite this as the number one blunder students commit. As incredibly simple as it sounds (and the minimal effort it requires), not saying thank you is one of the most foolish and quickest ways to make people turn away. It doesn’t matter if it was “only” an informational interview; anytime someone willingly gives up their time in an effort to help you, a small gesture like a thank you goes a long way in communicating what you think about them. If you want to take it a step further, The Muse has three tips on writing a thank-you note people won’t forget. 

Coming across unprofessional. Recruiters are used to corporate environments where many people are vying for their attention. In light of that, be sure any written material that you send uses proper English – spelling and grammar. When going through a pile of resumes, glaring errors make it an easy decision as to which ones will be tossed out first.
Unprofessionalism can also come across verbally. Particularly for those whose first language is not English, practice is key. Although it can be a challenging language to learn, if recruiters see you’re making progress with each interaction, that sends them the message you’re willing to make the effort to be a better employee. On a similar note, when you are having a conversation with someone, be conscientious of things like personal space and cultural norms.

Taking the summer off. Yes, you may be back in the working world, but this isn’t just a time to apply your new knowledge from the classroom. It can be easy to jump back into old habits, but don’t slide backward; continue networking the way you did when you were looking for a job. As GCS Director Eric Johnson would say, never eat lunch alone. 

Being timid at your internship. We hear you – being the low man on the totem pole can be intimidating, but being too nervous to speak up or ask questions sends your boss the wrong message. Use your words to figure out the details of your project, but don’t stop there. Go beyond the objectives and ask questions that will clue you in as to how the office operates. Your offer is likely contingent upon whether or not you know whom to impress. Figure out the office dynamics and get a feel for who the key influencers are.

Only talking to companies you’re interested in. It may seem counterintuitive, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. By holding a conversation with someone from a different company, you just might hit it off. And even though that might not change your mind about their company, it makes them much more inclined to leverage their network and reach out to a contact they have at a company you are interested in. Everyone has value, and by writing off someone who isn’t in your “plan,” you’re closing yourself off to opportunities you haven’t yet imagined.


These five helpful hints aren’t earth-shattering – we totally get that. But we do promise, they happen a lot more than you’d think. Whether you’re getting an MBA, applying for a new job, or are just out in the working world, make a conscious effort to be mindful and put these into practice. It might open up a few more doors than you’d expect. 

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