By: Peer Career Coach Dahun Mamora
Most of the time, we search the internet and meet with career coaches to gather strategies on acing interviews so we get our dream job. However, getting the job is one thing, but keeping the job is another. Therefore, what do we need to do to excel on the job, so we maximize our opportunities at the company we work for? Our amazing panelists from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds provided insight on the subject at our panel event on Monday December 9th, 2019. Members of the panel were: Esteban Lopez, Rakesh Adhikesavan, Fatima Azfar, Xochitl Castel and Rafal Wojtowicz. Below are key takeaways from the discussion that will be beneficial to you.
Your network is your net worth: The panelists got their previous internships and jobs because of who they knew. Some of the panelists got their jobs through professors they had worked with, others through connections they made at networking events, such as conferences and company meet-and-greets (to name a few). It is also recommended to join professional organizations on campus such as ACW (Association for Women in Computing), NSBE (National Society of Women Engineers), SWE (Society of Women Engineers). Being a part of these organizations allows you to attend their conferences on the school’s budget, which subsequently creates the opportunity for students to network. Additionally, whenever you attend career fairs and other networking events, focus on socializing rather than getting an interview or a job. This helps you understand specific traits the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. It is also beneficial psychologically because we generally are more relaxed when we socialize than when we are out to get a job.
Do not underestimate the power of relationships: We have probably heard this phrase, “it is not what you know, but who you know”. Indeed, your relationships at work can serve as a launchpad for your career. Consequently, how do you build relationships with your colleagues? First, be friendly to your colleagues and keep a smile on your face. Second, figure out or ask your colleagues what they are most passionate about and start conversations based on that; people love to talk about themselves and their passion. And remember, not all conversations at work should be about work. Third, have a personal brand. You do not have to try so hard to be like others, when you have something unique to offer. For example, if you are from a unique cultural background, feel free to bring your unique delicacies to work for lunch, or even for your team to taste!
Do not take your coursework for granted: Some courses you are taking may be directly related to your job, while others may not. The non-related courses may be beneficial in developing skills to help you succeed on the job. For example, classes where you give presentations frequently and gather feedback, will develop your presentation skills, confidence and teach you to be meticulous on the job. Other non-related courses may serve as training in finding specific resources to help you solve problems on the job. Consequently, your classes are valuable!
Ask questions: Someone once told me: “the only questions that are stupid are the questions not asked!” Do not be scared to ask questions, especially as an intern. Most of the time, the projects you are assigned at work are supposed to be very challenging. Meaning that you are not expected to have them figured out initially. So ask questions whenever you are in doubt. It is better to verify something and do it the right way than to do it in doubt and them mess things up.