A student recently asked me, what five things do you wish you had known when you graduated. I think they really meant, "what mistakes did you make that I should avoid'! In the Master of Science in Business Analysis program at Catholic University, we want every one of students to have the best chance of success. So in addition to the theory, skills and critical thinking, we also give them sound practical training and advice. Here's my list, I hope you'll add to it.
1) Listen Better: That requires patience, open mindedness and avoiding jumping to conclusions. Listen to the whole discussion. If you understand the matter from the other person's point of view, you will be better able to defend your point of view. Listening is a skill. Practice it.
|Lauren Keates Practices Listening|
|Kathryn Sullivan explains the next course|
3) Invest in your Appearance: I know it's a cliche but clothes and appearance do say a lot about you. It's hard to justify a large clothes budget when you're starting out with bills to pay and school loans. But you have to look at this as an investment in your future. You spent tens of thousands of dollars on an education to get here, capitalize on that investment. For Christmas or graduation, forgo the latest electronic gadget and ask friends and family to contribute to your "professional wardrobe fund". Thank them with a picture of you "dressed to the nines".
|Mary Ann counsels the women on attire|
I have heard so many comments after presentations about the things that stick out, the slacks that are too short, the shoes are scuffed, that inappropriate blouse. And when in doubt, best to be over dressed than under dressed..
4) Network, Network and Network some more: I previously wrote a piece on this in my blog. I just can't emphasize enough the importance of creating and nurturing a lifelong network of contacts. It is so much easier today with the social media tools like Linked In and Google + and Facebook. Separate the social from the professional and manage the latter with great care. I find Christmas cards are a good way to just touch base and let people know you value your association with them. Or divide your list into 12 monthly piles and drop a note to this months list to let them know what you're doing. A lost art is the hand written note, rediscover it and set yourself miles apart from the e mail crowd. Invest in note cards with your name on them. Simple, elegant, professional. I've never forgotten a region manager at Exxon that sent a birthday greeting to me as a 23 year old employee. It was a simple act that meant a lot. I tried to follow that example with my own employees throughout the years, always with a hand written personal note about a recent accomplishment, project or, better yet, family event.
|Andrew MacDougall with Tobi Kuhle Kehinde|
Now it's your turn. What do you wish you had known when you graduated...
Professor Stewart McHie
Program Director, MSBA