Top 15 Tips for New Professionals

Top Tips for New Professionals

Georgetown prepares its graduates to be men and women for others. To work toward social impact. To think. To analyze.  To dissect. To debate. To learn. To explore. To synthesize. To question.

I am continually amazed, even after 8 years of working at Georgetown, just how impressive our students are. They are literally building wells in Africa, starting companies, solving medical problems, creating national headlines, and leading movements for change.  They are smart. Educated. Thoughtful. Accomplished.  Socially conscious. Skilled.

As well as Georgetown prepares students to leave the Hilltop, the fact remains that going from backpack to briefcase, campus to corporate, can be eye-opening.  Even if you’re smart. Even if you’re accomplished.

Here are a few tips, based on the benefit of hindsight, as our seniors begin to think about leaving the Hilltop in a few short months:

1. Under promise, over deliver.  Manage expectations.

2. Good news travels fast, bad news travels faster.  Your boss doesn’t want to be the last to know. Say sorry.

3.  Be hungry. Come in early, stay late. You won’t always have the luxury of time but you do now.

4. Send thank you notes. Your mom was right.  They go a long way.

5. Dress for the job you want. Not the one you have. Leave the bar-wear at home.

6. Find a mentor/advocate/sponsor. And know the difference.  And know that you don’t need a signed piece of paper and a handshake to have someone be your mentor. They may not even realize it. And that’s ok.

7.  Learn to navigate ambiguity. Don’t let it paralyze your progress. Keep moving.

8.  Do your time.  You may not get a promotion in 6 months, or even a year.  Manage your own expectations of success based on your company culture, industry, and position.

9.  Re-learn how to write.   You’re not writing your thesis or history lit review.  Keep it short and sweet.

10.  Steer clear of the office gossip.  It will do you no good and it may actually be bad for your career.

11.  Anticipate needs.  Of your boss, your teammates. It sets you apart.

12.  Start to think about your personal and professional brand.  You get to reinvent yourself when you start your first job and you don’t get that opportunity very often.

13.  Manage up.

14.  Be confident. You went to Georgetown.  You are smart. You were hired for a reason.

15. Be humble.  Just because you went to Georgetown doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Know what you don’t know.

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What We’re Reading This Week

Daniel Pink

Greetings from the Hilltop, blog readers!  Whitney Pezza, Associate Director, Alumni Career Services, here to guest blog today, and share with you one of my new favorite books, “To Sell Is Human” by Daniel Pink.

I’m a longtime Daniel Pink fan, and I love his work.  In fact, one of my proudest career moments was when Mr. Pink replied to one of my Hoya Gateway tweets. (Seriously, see the picture below). I recommend this particular book to anyone and everyone.  Here’s the short summary:

Who should read it? Anyone who is interested in being a more effective persuader. Anyone who is interested in better understanding the people with whom they work and interact.

Why? According to Pink, everyone is in sales now, and in order to be an effective seller, it’s crucial to understand how to best persuade others to take action.  The days of the sleazy car salesperson should be long behind us – sales is about much more thank most people think, and everyone is doing it.  Pink commissioned a study that shows that  people, from lawyers to teachers, spend 40% of their work time selling something.

Quotable: In an interview about his book, Daniel Pink discusses why the book and the traits he outlines within are pertinent to everyone, regardless of their industry, “Whether we’re selling an idea, a product, or ourselves, we need a high degree of openness, honesty, and transparency. It’s a very different world and a lot of the research shows that doing well in this world depends on having fundamentally human qualities — understanding people’s perspectives or leaving people better off.”

I hope you find the time to enjoy and learn from this book!  Be sure the check out the discussion guide, too.

Daniel Pink 2

What We’re Reading This Week

Happy Friday!  We hope you enjoy some of the articles we’ve been perusing this week:

The Case for Mission Driven Business

Favorite quote: The 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study, for example, found that 69 percent of Americans consider a company’s social/environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 89 percent are likely or very likely to switch from one brand to another—price and quality being equal—if the competing brand is associated with a good cause. Over the past decade, socially responsible investing has risen more than 258 percent, according to the Social Investment Forum.

Death to Powerpoint: How to Speak Like a Pro Without the Slides: Ironic, I know, since we use Powerpoint for our webinars (we have to!).  That being said, I do believe that in office environments where in-person meetings fill up so much of the day, people’s disdain for Powerpoint presentations is growing.  This article encourages speakers to focus on their personal presentation (tone, body language, the words coming out of your mouth) instead of leaning on what the slide show portrays.

Favorite quote: ‘Human beings aren’t good multi-taskers. “Showing people slides demands that an audience multi-task,” Morgan says. By asking them to read what’s on the slide and trying to take the speaker’s message,” it actually interferes with retention of the important kind of information we really need to get from a speech.”‘

“Choose to Lead – Lessons from the Cubicle to the Boardroom” : A Discussion with Kathleen McLean (CIO of ADT): Kathleen McLean highlights her discussion on rising up the ranks with the GU Women in Leadership group.

Favorite quote: “As I moved up the ranks and led increasingly bigger teams and transformational projects, the rewards but also the scope, obstacles and risks grew as well.  This is when I learned that I didn’t have to know everything, I couldn’t possibly know everything and I needed to leverage the collective wisdom and power of the people on my team.”

The Rise of Invisible Work: On the Sharing Economy and how it is changing the employment landscape – potentially in a more positive way than you may think.

Favorite quote: ‘“It’s like an invisible economy,” says Molly Turner, Airbnb’s director of public policy. And companies inside it need to get real sophisticated, real fast in figuring out how to measure this invisible economy, she says, because for many people this looks like an important part of the future of work. It could even be a big component in our understanding of why America’s jobs numbers look so lethargic.’

How to Do Less: A Short Guide: A wonderful reminder (in a time when most people are being pulled in 80 directions) to savor each moment in your life.  You will reap the rewards if you practice mindfulness and avoid over scheduling yourself.

Favorite quote: “Think of yourself as a collector. Each day is limited, our lives are limited, and we can try to cram as many things as we possibly can into these containers, or we can collect just the experiences worthy of being in these limited days.”

Things We Love Around the Office

The first full work week of 2014 is almost over.  With holiday festivities behind us, we find ourselves crying trying to get excited about the little things that make the work day more enjoyable or productive.  Here are our Top 5 for January:

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Receiving upgraded office technology is like waking up on Christmas morning as a 7-year-old.   My sleek new phone now allows me to check my call history, plug-in a headset, and feel confident that people on the other end of the line can hear me! Exciting stuff – feel free to call me next time you have a question, beacuse I sure do enjoy talking on my new phone.

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Sugar & Carbs

There’s nothing like free baked goods to boost workplace morale (or subsitute for that lunch you were too cold busy to grab)! We especially love these treats since they were made by Dog Tag Bakery, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing wounded veterans and their spouses with education and job opportunities.  Drop some hints around your office by sending your coworkers to

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Useful Schwag

We ordered these cloths for our amazing alumni volunteers, and we have to admit, they come in handy. Dirty iPad, phone, glasses, or computer screen?  No worries; the ACS cleaning cloth will get rid of the mightiest smudges so that you can get back to reading that email, chatting with a loved one, or tuning in to a webinar!

NOTE: You will receive one of these if you attend one of our events.  Something to think about…

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Sharpie Pens

For the professional that wants some color (try 6 different ones!) on their notepad and/or needs help organizing their to-do list.  We swear they also make your handwriting look better.

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Natural Light

We feel extremely lucky to work in an environment in which we can feel fresh air or sunlight at any time – a rare thing in most office buildings!  It honestly makes a huge difference in the work happiness factor, and I can lure my cubicle colleagues to meetings in my office.

What items brighten your day at the office?  We would love to know!


Make Your New Year’s Career Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about eating healthy and working out. Consider making some work resolutions too to maximize your career. Apparently you are much more likely to achieve a goal if you take the time to put pen to paper (or keyboard to screen as is the case here). In the spirit of the New Year and in the hopes that posting these will make us that much more accountable, below are our staff resolutions. We hope they inspire you!Bridget Holmes, Senior Director, Career Initiatives
Be more organized.
I used to be able to remember my to-do list, birthdays, and my grocery list without even writing it down.  Now, with working full time and having two little ones at home, my memory is just not what it used to be!  Here are some tips:

1. Maximize your calendar.  Utilize your calendar system to keep track of all dates and deadlines that are important to you – even birthdays.  If you utilize Google calendar in particular, it makes it easy to share dates, deadlines, and meetings with colleagues.
2.  Maximize your email.  Color code your emails by category, file them to make it easier to find.  It’s the little things that can make a big impact. Use the task list in either your email or calendar to keep a running list.
3. File things.  Electronically.  While paper may never go away, having a scanned copy of some of those important documents can save you from a panic attack later.
4.  Take notes.   Meeting after meeting means you may not remember the action items from your 9am at 3pm.  Keep a notebook, take notes on your IPad, whatever works for you – just be consistent and keep it all together. Follow up meetings with typed notes to those in attendance to keep everyone on the same page.
5. Keep lists. To do lists, project lists, grocery lists, etc.  I never met a list I didn’t like.Sarah Hay, Assistant Director, Alumni Career Services
Time Blocking
Having both internal and external clients and stakeholders in addition to the interdependent nature of many of our projects makes it easy to get derailed from your daily to-do list. 2014 is going to be all about time blocking for me. Over and over again in the Webinar Program, we hear presenters discuss the importance of only checking email at set intervals, and not treating every request as urgent.  Some strategies for achieving this goal:

1) Update your to-do list. Often.
2) Prioritize. Check in with your manager to to understand prioritization of projects and deadlines
3) Respond to emails in order of importance/urgency, not time
4) Recognize first, respond later. If  you are coming close to the end of the day but need to respond to emails, send brief responses letting the person know you saw their note and will be responding soon.  If there is one urgent item in their email, respond to that and tell them you will send a more thorough response later.
5) Make more internal phone calls.  Sometimes a task can be crossed off quickly if you can speak with a colleague as opposed to communicating via email.  It only takes a few seconds to try someone’s extension!
6) Step back from the inbox. Close out of email while working on projects and on phone calls.  It is too easy to respond to things that pop up in your inbox!
7) Less meetings.  Do not schedule meetings for the sake of meetings.  See our blog post on the topic!
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