Friday, June 24, 2016

Career Advice

As I’m sitting here, eyes burning from lack of sleep and brain a fuzzy mess (I guess I’m finally too old to be pulling all-nighters anymore, even if they occurred four days ago), I think about what a great opportunity I’ve been given and am grateful for it and all of the amazing people who stop by and freely share their knowledge with me.

Today at work, I was given a lot of great advice by three different people that I want to share with you, because I think that you should also benefit from their wisdom as well. Their advice all ranged from management to interviews to networking, which is all very useful for upcoming interns and graduates.

Rich, my supervisor, stopped by my and Cole’s cubicles this morning and just started talking to us about management. He told me that he really liked millennials because like us because we didn’t need our hands held; he could just tell me he wanted this project done and wouldn’t need to check on me every hour compared to some of his older employees who have Master degrees and still need to know every little detail before starting a project.

He eventually asked the two of us if we thought about holding managerial positions, and we both thought so. It wasn’t really a question I had thought about before, but the more I pondered over it, the more I realized that I actually would like the position. This is because I usually am the one organizing and making sure projects and deadlines are met in group settings anyway, and because I like knowing my teammates and giving them opportunities to do thrive in what they do best.

In response to that, Rich gave us some tips about the darker side of management that most people don’t talk about. The first is to be aware of the generational gap, as mentioned earlier. Some workers, who have worked in AT&T for decades and have their Master’s still need someone to tell exactly what they need to do, which is counterintuitive, especially when you could be the one just working on the project by the time you finish telling someone else what exactly to do.

His second tip is to always be unbiased, especially when it comes to giving employees opportunities for exposure and promotion. You want to give the employee that did the lion’s share of the work to receive the most credit and be able to stand firm and tell that to all of the other employees why you chose that one particular employee, and that’s hard to do sometimes.

His third tip, which was the most important in my opinion, was that you need to make people want to work for you and that if you focus on bettering the person instead of meeting ends, then you’ll receive a better product overall. 

His fourth tip is that not only do you have your own problems to solve, you also have to shoulder your whole team’s burden, which is also tough. You have to learn to get to the problem, discuss it with them to resolve it, and repeat it again for the next person.

Rich made a great statement about managers: to be a manager, you need to want to help people. It’s very true. At the heart of it, you need to be able to help the people under you in order to have a good team who can tackle any problem that comes along the way.

Aaron, an Assistant Director who actually got AT&T to look into our college for instructional design interns, took us out to lunch at this Greek place. He told us about how he got to where he was and gave us a lot of advice as well about figuring out what we want to do after college and how to ace interviews.

He made a great point about choosing jobs. Don’t ever get a job for the money, because you’ll never be satisfied. Instead, if you’re debating on two different job offers, think about 3-5 years in the future and consider which job will still make you happy.

I told him how during the upcoming school year, I was hoping to apply for jobs and figuring out what I want to do and get job interviews to help practice for when I actually apply for a company that I like. In response to that, he gave us some advice on how to do better in job hunting and how to maintain your career success at work.

He told us that we have to make our resumes stand out, to invest in fancy resume templates and change them to fit you better, and it’ll make a difference, especially to the recruiters. If they see that your resume looks the same as everyone else along with having the same background and education as everyone else, then you won’t stand a chance. He offered to let us look at his resume and look over our resumes as well, which I will definitely take him up on his offer once I edit mine again.

Regarding interviews, it’s good to already know the answers to the basic questions like your strengths and weaknesses, but it’s also good to know about the STAR approach when they start asking behavior interview questions. Behavior-based questions are something along the lines of “Tell me about a time when you failed at something and overcame the challenge.” To answer that, you have to hit upon the Situation that you were in, the Tasks that you had to accomplish, the Actions you took, and the results you achieved. Being able to answer those questions easily will really impress the interviewers.

He also said that he likes to ask this question when he’s interviewing people: Who is the best in your field? This question reveals a lot about you. For instance, if you don’t even know who is the best in your field, then you’re not as passionate about it than you think. If you know who is the best in your field, that means that you know them and their style, which can translate into how you work since you already have in-depth knowledge about it.

He then told us that you also have to maintain your career success based on three key elements: Performance, Image, and Exposure (PIE). You need to be able to Perform well or else you won’t keep your job for long, maintain your Image and personal brand so that people will remember you to include you in important jobs, and Expose yourself and your work so that people know who you are and what you’re good at.

He stated that it’s good to maintain a 40-30-30 balance between the elements, because at the end of the day, your performance is important since it’s your actual job to accomplish these tasks. In addition, it’s good to maintain a balance because if you have too much exposure, people will come to you with stuff that is over your head and be disappointed and will lower your image when you can’t deliver in the end.

Then, later in the day, Matt, my old mentor from last summer, stopped by to ask how things were going. I told him how I was still debating if continuing grad school was the best option for me. He told me that even if I didn’t use my Master’s at work, it still looks really good on my resume, because it tells others that I went beyond just college education to want to improve and gain more knowledge in a field. Since most of today’s job requires a Bachelor’s degree, they’re now becoming like high school diplomas: a regular occurrence. That is why a Master’s lets you stand out more. And it might suck taking classes that you aren’t interested in, but it usually helps in the long run.

So yeah, today was the day of advice, lol. I got a lot of information from a lot of wise people who have worked their way up in the company and have a ton of knowledge and experience to share, and I wanted to write it down to remember it for later. That, and like how they willingly shared their knowledge with me, I wanted to share it with you as well, because I want to help everyone floundering after college and in jobs who still don’t know what to do, because I will soon be one of you guys as well.

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