By Marianne Brigola, Com Career Advisor
No, I’m not talking about Bruce Springsteen here. Each year, the Student Professional Development Center hosts Professional Discovery Week, featuring a week of programming covering a broad spectrum of career topics, including networking, life after Elon, graduate school and industry-specific topics.
This year, the School of Communications hosted a panel of employers who shared their advice to students about what it takes to stand out as a new employee. This years’ panel included:
- Brian Formica, ’07, Main Sports Anchor at WFMY 2 News in Greensboro, NC
- Kristin Genszler, ’12, Production Manager and Associate Producer at Trailblazer Studios in Raleigh, NC
- Angi Wesson, Account Supervisor at Trone Brand Energy in High Point, NC
- Paul Milton, Assistant Managing Editor, Targeted Media at Baltimore Sun Media Group in Baltimore, MD
Each of our panel members supervise entry-level employees and interns in their respective companies. Panelists spoke on everything from applying for work to starting off strong on your first day. Some great advice they shared included:
Know how you’re branding yourself: All the panelists agreed that once someone works for them, that person also represents their company and their social media presence was a key factor in the hiring decision. Formica said that he looks at social media accounts even before taking a look at someone’s resume.
Showing your skills is more valuable that just telling someone about them. Resumes are great, but even more important is samples of your work. Milton said he often hears from applicants who apply with the intention of building their portfolio with the position—the ones who get hired are the ones with existing clips and samples that demonstrate the skills they’re claiming to have. For iMedia students, this might be done with your resume and more importantly with your electronic portfolio.
Stand out in your application. When you’re applying to jobs you want to stand out, but don’t overlook simple, effective ways to stand out. When Genszler was looking for jobs, she mailed in physical copies of her resume. She heard back from more employers with this strategy, often with signed letters that provided her with a company contact to follow up with. She landed her first job using this strategy.
Once you start. Be resourceful + decisive. Panelists all agreed that while you can use the excuse of being “new” for a few weeks, that doesn’t mean you should be lackadaisical or passive when it comes to learning what you need for the job, meeting new people at your company and showing that you’re ready to work. Wesson emphasized the importance of being true to how you presented yourself at the interview. If you’re claiming to be driven—demonstrate it! Don’t show up at 9 and then leave immediately at the end of the day.
Be comfortable and continue to grow where you are. This is particularly important for those who have not yet had their first professional, full-time work experience. In school you get used to a cycle of classes, a summer break and then a new change once the school year starts. Once you leave college, that’s not always the case–you may find yourself in the same job/role for one, two, three years or more. This can be difficult for some to adjust to, particularly if they are in their first year out of college or graduate school. Formica emphasized the importance of being comfortable in a role and recognizing that change doesn’t always come as quickly as it did in college. Recognize this and take active steps to improve your skills and knowledge so that you are ready for that next opportunity when it arrives.