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(November 2017) There are many things I wish I’d done different in college. The personal and professional decisions I made during that time, both good and bad, played a role in where I am today. I recently read an article in the New York Times by Susan Shapiro, in which she talks about the college advice she wishes she’d taken. She shares stories from her personal life and professional life as a professor at Columbia University.
As a student at the University of Michigan, Shapiro says she hated tests and barely maintained a B average. She didn’t see the value in studying for classes until later in her academic career. She tells a story about her niece who was recently invited on a trip to Argentina based on her 3.7 GPA.
“I was retroactively envious to learn that a 3.5 GPA or higher at many schools qualifies you for free trips, scholarships, grants, awards, private parties and top internships,” she writes. “Students certainly don’t need to strive obsessively for perfection, but I should have prioritized grades ...”
Shapiro has a few more points that I won’t detail here, but I encourage you to read the full article.
Her point, as I see it, is that students should take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. Four years in college (assuming you graduate on-time) is not long. Before you know it, you’ve graduated and have started your career. What you do now as a student will determine how far you can go after graduation.
So, heed this advice now, and hopefully one day, many years down the road, you’ll look back at your time here at UIW without regrets. Finish the semester strong, Cardinals!
(October 2017) When job searching, be sure to look for more in a company than just the paycheck. What are the benefits? Do the employees seem happy? Are there opportunities for career advancement?
These are all important factors when considering an employer. Here are three steps from Monster.com to make sure a company is the right fit for you and your career.
Ask good questions
We talked about asking meaningful questions in September’s blog. You can scroll down or click here to read over those. The important thing to remember in an interview is that you're interviewing the company just as much as it's interviewing you. They are trying to read you, and you should be trying to read them.
Ask open-ended questions to make the interviewer think about the answer. “Why do you like working here?” “What makes people want to stay here?” “What opportunities for advancement exist in your company?” Have some questions planned before the interview so you’re not caught off guard.
Tour the company
Many times, companies will take you on a tour of the facility during an interview. Take advantage of this access to make some mental notes. Do the people seem happy? Are they friendly? Is the work environment clean and well-lit? A few simple observations can help determine a healthy workplace.
Monster.com says to arrive a few minutes early and talk to a receptionist, if you can. They have great insight into the company and can be a great source of information.
Before accepting a job offer or even applying, be sure to research the company. Find out its history and its vision. Where are the leaders steering the ship? Is that somewhere you want to go?
Maybe you know of someone who works at the company or has in the past. Find out what they think and if they think you’d be a good fit for the culture.
Taking the time to complete these simple steps can prevent you from jumping into a job you’ll dread going to every day. Look before you leap. You’ll be glad you did.
(September 2017) Preparation is the key to a successful interview. Once they’re done asking about your work history and qualifications, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. This is not the time to ask about vacations or your salary. Instead, plan a few meaningful questions ahead of time. Here are some suggestions.
If hired, what do I need to accomplish in my first 6-12 months to be a success and have an impact?
The answer to this question will help you gauge the expectations for the new hire. Some interviewers might not be prepared to answer this question, which could mean they are just looking for someone to fill a timesheet. If the interviewer responds with specific needs and goals, it could be a sign of a worthwhile career opportunity. Asking this question can also give you an opportunity to discuss how you are prepared to achieve those goals.
What will the company look like in a year? From any perspective – product, people, team?
According to TimeInc.net, the answer will allow you to discern whether a company has true vision. Is the interviewer rambling? It the answer delusional? Does it all make sense and tie to the data and learnings you have so far? As a new hire, it’s good to learn how you will fit into the team before accepting a job offer. This question will assist in accomplishing that task.
What is your timeline for deciding on this position?
At the end of the interview you should ask what the next step in the hiring process will be. "Never leave an interview without finding out the company's timeline for making a decision and determining when and how you should follow up afterwards about your candidacy,” according to Fortune.com.
These are just a few ideas. There are many other meaningful questions you can ask during an interview. Click here for more.
(May 2017) You can learn a lot about a person by the way they communicate with others. In a business setting, it’s important to present yourself in the best light possible. You might be the smartest person in the room, but it won’t matter if you can’t send a coherent email.
I’d like to share a list of words it would benefit you to drop from your vocabulary.
Most of the time, “that” is not necessary. If you find yourself writing it a lot, reread your sentences without the word. If it makes sense, leave “that” out.
This one is used incorrectly a lot these days. If something is funny, someone might say “I literally died laughing.” No, you didn’t. It might be OK to say around friends, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if you start using words incorrectly around co-workers and managers. So, it might be best to eliminate the word altogether, unless you’re using it correctly.
This one is simple. Just drop the “ir” and go with “regardless.”
Absolutely is often redundant. For instance, something isn’t more necessary if you say it’s “absolutely necessary.” It’s either necessary or it’s not. There aren’t degrees of necessary.
These are just a few suggestions to improve your vocabulary and writing skills. Perhaps the greatest way to improve your writing is to proofread. You’d be surprised what you can miss.
Click here to check out the full list of words at Time.com.
(April 2017) The first month at a new job is a whirlwind of excitement and nervousness. Once you have officially been hired, it’s important to take a step back and really think about the things you’d like to accomplish in your new role. It’s equally important to know the things you should not do in your first 30 days. Below is a short list of mistakes to avoid.
Two of the mistakes to avoid in your first 30 days involve social media. First, be careful about what you post online when talking about your previous job. Don’t post things like “I’m so glad to be leaving,” or “I’m finally free of this place.” It’s important to show grace and humility, even if your old job was the worst. The things you post online live forever and help to shape the impression your new employer has of you.
The second social media faux pas is being too quick to add new coworkers as friends online. Doing so could seem insincere or disingenuous. Slow down and be smart. It’s OK to use LinkedIn to connect on a professional level, but be careful about adding them to your Facebook friends list too quickly. Make sure these are relationships that will last. Here is a good rule of thumb from FastCompany.com: “The more personal information that’s revealed on the social media platform, the more time you should wait before engaging with your colleagues.”
Defining Your Role
FastCompany.com says to treat your first 30 days as the “ask anything” period, and I agree. Your natural reaction might be to just lay low for a while and let things come to you. Let me encourage you to engage with your new coworkers early and often. If there is something you are unsure on, ask someone for help. It’s better to ask questions early on instead of waiting several months when you should probably already know the answers. Consider setting up one-on-one meetings with your coworkers to go over your new responsibilities.
Hopefully your new employer will offer a great benefits package. It’s important to know what’s available to you and make your selections as soon as possible. Most employers will give you a certain time period to register for health and other benefits. Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up when you might be rushed to make a decision. Learn about your new employer’s 401K options, as well. If you’re unclear on any of the benefits options, set up a one-on-one meeting with a human resources representative.
Click here to read the full list of Mistakes to Avoid on FastCompany.com.
(March 2017) For job seekers, negotiating salaries with an employer can be a tricky tightrope to walk. This is especially true for students or recent graduates looking for an internship or their first job out of college.
With the end of the semester just around the corner and many students looking for summer internships and jobs, I thought now would be a good time to go over some best practices for approaching salary negotiations.
Know your value
It’s important to know how much you're worth in the job market before entering into any salary negotiations. Tools like Payscale.com are a great way to get an idea of how much the average person with your knowledge, skills and experience commands in salary. Speak with a trusted colleague, adviser or professor about this, as well. Without this basic information on hand, you will be entering salary negotiations at a serious disadvantage.
Never give the first number
Let the interviewer give the first salary number. This can be tricky because he or she will try to do the same thing by getting you to give the first number. However, if you do give the first number, you are telling the employer just how little they have to pay in order for you to be happy.
By letting the employer give the first number, you will have room to go up. If you give the first number, they have no reason to offer more.
The interviewer will probably ask something like, “What are your salary requirements?” That is a direct question, but you can’t give in by offering a direct answer. Penelope Trunk of Time.com recommends job seekers to offer a soft answer, such as, “Let’s talk about the job requirements first, so I can get a sense of what you need.” Trunk offers several great responses to tough interview questions about salary requirements. Click here to read them all.
The truth is, an employer has a certain amount budgeted for any job they are offering. As an applicant, you need to figure out what that amount is before you offer any salary requirements of your own. You might get a low offer to start out, but don’t be afraid to counter-offer. Never accept the first offer. If an employer is unwilling to budge on a low offer, it might be an indicator of how much (or little) they value the position.
More than salary
If an employer can’t or won’t meet your salary requirements, you might try negotiating for other incentives. For instance, you can negotiate for a sign-on bonus, stock options or perhaps more vacation time than was previously offered. This is, of course, assuming the salary they do offer is not too far from what you requested.
In summary, salary negotiations can be difficult, tense and even a bit awkward, especially if it’s your first time going through the process. Just remember to research the market value for the position and be prepared to counter offer. Do your best to keep emotion out of the process and remember that business is business.
Check out these 10 Commandments of Salary Negotiation for more ideas.
(November 2016) Preparing for an interview can make a person feel like they are being pulled in every direction while trying to memorize dozens of talking points. The truth is, with a little preparation and planning, an interview can be a stress-free experience. With that said, here are some things you should definitely not say during an interview.
It’s important to research the company to which you are applying. Make sure you have read up on the job and the company itself so you don’t end up saying things like “So, tell me what you do.” Interviewers will be unimpressed if you haven’t taken the time to prepare enough to even know what the company does.
When talking about your work or academic history, it’s important to know how your experience will directly relate to the job you want. This is where it’s important to have researched the company and the job. Even if you don’t have the experience working in a certain area, don’t say that to an interviewer. Instead, talk about how what you did at your former employer will help you complete the tasks of your new job.
There are some phrases to avoid when talking about your work history. Don’t badmouth or talk down about your old boss or employer. That shows the interviewer that you might be difficult to work with, even if that’s not the case. If you’re asked what you didn’t like about your old job, I suggest highlighting an area of interest that your old employer didn’t offer but the new job does. This shows that you’re interested in the new job and what you’ll be doing if hired.
It’s good to be prepared if the interviewer asks if you have any questions. You should have these questions prepared ahead of time, but don’t ask about vacation time or other employee perks right off the bat. You are there to pitch yourself to the company, not the other way around. If you’re asked to come back for a second interview or are offered the job, then you are safe to ask about those things.
These are just a few topics and phrases to avoid. Here is a list of 30 more to read over before heading to an interview.
My hope for students is to be well prepared and thoughtful in their approach to interview opportunities. If you take the time to prepare and think about what you want to say, you’ll represent yourself well and be confident in your chances at landing the job.
(October 2016) I hope your semester is progressing nicely as you make great strides in and out of the classroom. This month, I would like to talk about some habits you would be wise to avoid so as to not become “that person” around the office. An article I read recently lists nine habits that could earn you a bad reputation around the office.
While there are many other bad habits that can set you back in the workplace, these nine cover many of the problem areas.
It can be easy to just come into work every day, punch the clock and leave, which can lead to the bad habit of doing the bare minimum. An office environment is collaborative and requires all members of the team to pull their own weight. If co-workers see you barely doing any work and leaving them to pick up the slack, it won’t be long before you find yourself making enemies. If your work becomes too much to handle, ask someone for help before it leads to you earning a bad reputation.
Many people are quick to take credit for an idea that paid off, but far fewer will readily hold themselves accountable when things don’t go well in the office. If you’re unwilling to take credit for your missteps, it could lead to another bad habit: finger-pointing. This solves nothing while overlooking or delaying the positive approach of problem solving to avoid the same mistake in the future.
The last bad habit I would like to touch on is engaging in workplace gossip. Let me encourage you to focus your time and energy on more productive things. The article quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, who perhaps had the best take on this topic. She said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
(September 2016) With the first month of the fall semester behind us, I’d like to talk about building connections. By now you’ve hopefully settled into the routine of the semester and are becoming acquainted with your classmates and professors. My hope is that by the time finals roll around you will know more than just a few faces.
A recent article on theMuse.com lists seven easy ways to make a lasting impression on your coworkers and improve your chance of earning a full-time job offer. Some might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often we overlook them.It’s easy to get midway through the semester and realize you haven’t made any real connections. The same is true of internships. When you find yourself in a new workplace, it might take some time to adjust. But allow me encourage you to capitalize on the limited time of your internship.
My hope is for students to be proactive and intentional as they embark on new challenges.
Smiling might be the easiest of the seven connection-building techniques the author said she employed. While the usual closed-mouth grin might suffice, the author said she found much more success by offering everyone, even strangers, a “legitimate, teeth-and-all smile.”
“I found that almost everyone would grin back. In two seconds, we’d create a genuine, enjoyable connection, which would make talking to them in the kitchen or at happy hour that much easier and organic,” she writes.
This simple action lays the groundwork for a more in-depth connection at a later time. The same is true of talking, which is the second tactic on the author’s list.
Chitchat might not be in your nature, but with a little effort and intentional dialogue, you can make a new connection. The author said she would simply ask people how their day was going while they both got coffee or tea. She said that not everyone wants to have a conversation, but most do, in her experience.
A more business-minded approach to making connections, or networking, is adding coworkers on LinkedIn.
“Sarah from Advertising probably wouldn’t have remembered me from our short encounter alone, but the request reinforced my name, face and title in her mind,” the author writes.
Some of the other techniques are holding doors open for people and going to office events. Click here to see the full list.
The common goal of all the techniques is to meet people and leave an impression once your internship is over. Obviously you want companies to know you’re smart and can do the work, but it might take something a little more to make them remember you.
After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And perhaps more importantly, it’s who knows you.
(August 2016) - As the fall semester gets underway, students are returning to campus for another round of classes. But it’s never too early to begin planning for the next step, whether that’s an internship or finding a job after graduation. The key to landing any internship or job is the interview.
Interviewees must have go-to answers hammered out long before sitting down with a prospective employer. How you answer behavioral questions can make or break your chances of landing your dream internship or job.
“Tell me about a time when …” “Give me an example of a time when …” “Describe a time when …"
Being well prepared for an interview means anticipating some of the questions you might be asked.
TheMuse.com’s Lily Zhang compiled a list of 30 behavioral interview questions hopeful hires should be ready to answer. Zhang breaks the questions into six categories.
Employers want to hear more than cookie-cutter responses. They want examples of times when you’ve exemplified desirable employee characteristics. For any question an interviewer asks, you should have a polished answer complete with a real-world example.
One of the teamwork questions Zhang says interviewees should be prepared for is: “Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.”
Only you have the answer for questions like this. When preparing a compelling answer, Zhang says to recall a time when there was a conflict between you and your coworkers and how you used your communication skills to get past the issue.
Interviewers will often asked veiled questions in an attempt to learn about what motivates you. A question to be on the lookout for is: “Tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.”
Zhang says your answer would ideally address the underlying question, not just the one being asked.
For example, if your proudest achievement is graduating with a 4.0 GPA, be sure to elaborate on why that is and how you got to that point. Think about how your answer and phrasing might come across to the person asking the question. While you might have achieved great things personally, it most likely wasn’t without the help of others.
I highly recommend you take the time to read through the full list of questions before your next big interview. Read them here.
(Jan. 15, 2016) - First, I want to welcome our students back from the fall break. I hope you are prepared and eager to begin a new semester.
A new year has come and with it new personal challenges. Many of you may have resolutions to recreate the inner or outer you: spend more time with family, learn a new skill, or discover the gym again. I offer you another challenge, one of heart and mind: a test of ethics.
I was recently interviewed by San Antonio Magazine on the erosion of the global view of business people and what we can do to temper this attitude. In the article, I am quoted as saying business people are the new boogeyman. I believe there is truth in that statement; the lack of ethical considerations by few has harmed the professional credibility of many.
In 2001, the Enron scandal broke and we dove into the divisiveness of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling; c-suite executives were on the chopping block. In 2008, The Great Recession moved the public scorn to hedge fund managers, brokers and bankers. Most recently, Martin Shkreli and big pharma inspired the national outrage. Each time, a nation collectively gathered their proverbial pitchforks and roared for accountability.
Business people are not lurking in the shadows waiting to steal the elderly’s pensions. In fact, only a small percentage has contributed to the idea’s matriculation. However, we are still confronted by the ethical earthquake that shakes the public’s confidence in business.
As students, you are the future stewards of the business world. The values you hold closely will drive the ethos that influences organizational decisions and practices. For 2016, I challenge you to think about the ways you infuse your values into your studies, relationships and goals. Many of your courses have ethical discussions embedded in the lectures. I ask you to pay close attention to the discourse you have with your peers on ethical issues. Talk about the ethical challenges you may face in the evolving business world and how you can work together to make a positive impact upon it.
I want you to know that the administration, faculty and staff in the H-E-B School of Business & Administration have also had these discussions. We understand the importance of teaching students about the confluence between business and ethics.
As Cardinals, you are taught to view the world in greater terms than just yourself. The UIW Mission of social justice is driven by a tenet of service, service based on making ethical decisions that focus on the well being of the community.
It is up to you to change the boogeyman into a hero once again.
(Dec. 15, 2015) - One of the joys of the holiday season is the office party. Some office parties are elaborate affairs while others are quite intimate. Whether large or small, the office holiday party is a time to connect with your peers away from budgets and deadlines. For my final blog of 2015, I want to share with you my personal views on company socials.
First, attendance is mandatory. For some people, holiday parties can seem like a forced exercise in corporate merriment and to a degree they may be right, but it’s all about relationship building. Your relationship with the organization and your coworkers is evident at company-sponsored events; think of it as team building. You know Carlos in the accounting department that you have only spoken to on the phone? It’s time to meet him in person and laugh about that mistake he helped you correct.
Holiday parties help build company culture. The steps on the corporate ladder are lowered for the evening and you will mingle with managers, executives and even the CEO. Shake hands and speak with all of them; make your presence known. This is one of only a few opportunities where you all will be gathered so closely.
Be composed. The time of the year is festive, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your professionalism at home. The Santa Clause costume you found on E-bay should stay in the box, but a creative and classy tie always makes an impression. But the most important part of your outfit should be your smile. The key is for you to remember that you are still an employee and your actions will influence your image within the company. In other words, you need to be aware of the message you are sending through your behavior.
A few more short tips:
As we watch the sunset on 2015, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I hope it is a time of refreshment and preparation for a new year filled with new challenges.
(Nov. 25, 2015) - It is becoming a pattern: I like to share information on career searching. I do this because you may not hear this information as much as you need to. In my last blog, I wrote on the importance of asking the right questions during the interview process. But that is only one small piece to solving the employment puzzle. For this month’s blog, I want to talk about your resume.
The mighty resume: a single sheet (maybe two), condensed of all your achievements, skills and competencies; the gateway to the interview. Your resume holds immense power. A strong resume, in content and structure, can set you on the path to achieving your career aspirations. A glossed over, fumbled resume leads to nowhere.
Having conducted hundreds of interviews over my tenor in higher education, I am still amazed by the number of people that make these common mistakes.
Remember, during the first stage of evaluating applicants, the goal is to not find “the one," but to eliminate people from the pool so the manager can focus on a smaller number of resumes. During this first cut, the small mistakes stand out, as the focus is to eliminate people. Typos, gone! Wrong contact information, gone! Incoherent cover letter, gone! These are simple mistakes, but they are also simple to correct.
When crafting your resume, formatting is key. You want the reader’s eye to easily maneuver the page, spot important information that correlates directly to the position and move your resume to the top of the stack. Keywords are important, but don’t over do it. In our digital age, human resource departments often use software to identify terminology in your resume that matches that of the position. Use it to your advantage by reviewing the job description and researching the company website.
Lastly, your resume should reflect your accomplishments, not list your job duties. What did you achieve at your previous employer or during your time as a student? Did you produce a marketing plan that was adopted by a local small business during your Capstone project or help a nonprofit reach a fundraising goal? Also, be quantitative! If at your previous job, you produced spreadsheets, don’t just simply state it – quantify it: “I produced 5 spreadsheets a week increasing the efficiency of xyz.”
Putting together the perfect resume may seem daunting, so I encourage you to take advantage of the many great support services we offer on campus such as the Career Services Center. There, you can attend workshops on building your resume or forming clear and concise cover letters; both are skills that should be practiced and perfected.
Make it harder to be cut in the first stage. For more common job search mistakes, take a look at this comprehensive list. Ignore them at your peril.
(Oct. 29, 2015) - The Fall 2015 semester is in full motion. As students, you’ve made it through midterms, progressed in your community service initiatives and joined your peers in many of the student organizations we have on campus.
Last week, the Accounting Society and the Business Club held their annual networking reception. It was a great event, one that has grown over the years through the support of the San Antonio business community and HEBSBA students.
To me, the networking reception is one of the defining events we hold as a school. It is a time for students to use what they have learned, to sell their skills to potential employers and gain confidence in their abilities. As a business school, it is the materialization of what we prepare our students to accomplish: gain a meaningful career in your field.
Simple conversations can lead to big opportunities. As I watched students interact with the attending business professionals, I thought, do they know the questions to ask at the end of the interview? Over many years of being both the interviewer and interviewee, I find the questions candidates ask are as telling as the answers given.
It takes diligent research to know what the appropriate questions are, more so, what questions will make you stand out. Here is an infographic I came across and would like to share with you.
The questions presented are specific and to the point. Specifically, the last question: do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? This question allows you to exit an interview knowing that you have left nothing unattended. The anxiety after leaving an interview can make you doubt your accomplishments, qualifications, and even yourself. You should not retract from discussing an employer’s hesitations, this time allows you to expand and defend. In that moment, with your weaknesses on the table, you may impress more than just the employer.
As always, please contact me if you find these suggestions useful. I would like to hear from you.
(Sept. 16, 2015) - I came across this article and I would like to share the message with you. I hear many students use these phrases in their conversations with me, their professors and each other. As the author of this piece noted, "What you say and how you say it can have a big impact on your success."
Unfortunately, what seems like an innocent phrase in the workplace can lead you straight out the door. As an HEBSBA business student, I want you to practice the behaviors here on campus that will lead to success. This semester, I challenge you to avoid using these phrases; I think you will find an improvement in your interactions with people.
I wish you continued success this semester. Take advantages of the resources we have here on campus for you and please let me know how you are doing whenever you see me.