Developing Your Personal Brand

At orientation in May, we heard from a speaker about your personal brand.  Your personal brand is how people perceive you and how you present yourself.  Some other ways to explain it are how you choose to carry yourself, your reputation, and what people think of when they hear your name.  During this presentation, we had to write down adjectives we could use to describe ourselves, adjectives our friends would use to describe us, adjectives our parents would use to describe us, and adjectives we hope to describe ourselves as in ten years.  We then discussed how some people we are close with get an entirely different version of who we are than others, and the importance of staying consistent in how we present ourselves. I really enjoyed this speaker and reflecting on being the best version of myself during both work and at home.  I wanted to share some of the key takeaways I’ve learned from my internship that I feel greatly help in developing your personal brand.  I am in my last week and will be presenting soon, but I wanted to reflect upon my journey before it’s over!

Be proactive

One of the worst misconceptions is that it is wrong to ask too many questions.  Asking questions not only shows your boss that you’re engaged in what you’re working on, but it helps to understand your project better.  Being proactive is all about going after what you want, and that includes seeking help and resources that you need to succeed.  Others may have years of experience that they are willing to share with you, but they just need to know how they can help you.

Be open-minded

Being open-minded is not just about coming up with different ideas or options to solve a problem.  It also could mean being open to taking an entirely different career path than you intended to.  I’ve noticed at Meijer that some employees have different majors than the role they are in and did not intend to take the path they took in their career.  One of the speakers we listened to, Vik Srinivasan, is the Senior Vice President of Properties & Real Estate at Meijer. However, he was an engineering major.  He is responsible for new store designs, construction, locations, store repairs & maintenance, outlot and in-store tenant programs, and Environmental Sustainability.  He probably never thought he’d be doing what he is now, but it’s okay to change paths.  Rick Keyes started out in the pharmacy department at Meijer and worked several more roles up until becoming President and CEO.  Don’t limit yourself by your own perception of what you intend to do with your career.  Be open to change, and you may find enjoyment in an entirely different career path than you intended.

Be patient

You are not going to fix something overnight—it could take many weeks, even months.  The project I’ve been working on will end up taking me my entire 12-week internship.  It can be really frustrating at times when you have a vision for something, but you can’t just blink and see it happen instantly.  Everything takes time, and so you have to be patient and work toward your plan every day in order to see results in the long run.  There are going to be times when your project becomes very tedious and you feel like you’ll never see the resolution, but keep going!

Embrace failure

Failure can actually be rewarding.  It’s not only okay to make mistakes—it’s good to make them.  If you’re trying to solve a problem, the only way you’ll know the best method is to try multiple ones and see which do or don’t work.  In your failure, you can learn how to adapt to different circumstances and learn more about your problem or project.  This will help you to be better prepared for the unexpected in the future.

Own your career

My favorite piece of advice came from Janet Kelley, the Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer & Secretary of Meijer.  She spoke about her role and gave several pieces of advice for us, including owning your career.  I think it’s incredibly important to work to your best ability in every single role you have.  This is the only way to advance in your career goals.  You alone are in charge of your own success.  Only you can determine how high your goals are going to be and how hard you’re going to work to achieve them.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not capable of your most difficult goal—go after it and work even harder!


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