If I had the opportunity to go back in time and meet the freshman version of myself, I would undoubtedly be horrified. (I still have nightmares about the time I wore a polo shirt to our career fair). I dressed differently, I talked differently and I represented myself in social settings differently among other things. While I certainly have a long ways to go, three years in college and several internships have taught me so much about the intangible factors of kick starting a successful business career. During my time at my summer internship, which if you haven’t noticed, I’m forced to speak about in very vague terms due to several privacy regulations, I’ve practically doubled my knowledge of these factors. For this entry in my summer internship blog, I would like to share a few points that would have made an enormous difference in the beginning of my college career and saved me quite a bit of embarrassment as well.
Having a social life is actually very important
While the goal of hiring someone is to increase various measures of productivity such as profits, your boss and co-workers want to form a relationship in the work setting as well. When I first started working, I was under the impression that if I put my head down and worked hard every day, things would work out just fine. I soon found out that this wasn’t the way the world works. Business culture especially is based upon relationships. A simple happy hour or dinner party after work can be crucial for getting to truly know a group of people. It also helps develop trust and creates the perception of well-roundedness to others.
Learn to dress
There are so many rules that can be put here. Make sure your belt and shoes match, never button the bottom of your jacket, and for God’s sake, never wear a bowtie to work unless you’re positive you can pull it off (I see you Gordon Gee and Bill Nye). The list goes on and on. I’m not even going to attempt to address the feminine side of dressing professionally. The point is, keep it simple at first, and observe how people dress around you in various professional settings. There is something about dressing professionally that instills a sense of accountability and discipline at work.
Finally, no one likes a suck up, but find ways to stand out
Urban dictionary defines a suck up as “One who acts affectionately toward another so as to excel, usually because he cannot do so on his own merits.” There is a difference between doing this and impressing your superiors in a proper way. Learn the language of the industry, take initiative on a project, start work an hour early every once in a while. These prove that you have the ability to excel in a much more palatable fashion than an ill-placed compliment about your bosses “perfect family portraits.”
College is a great opportunity to learn about a particular industry and grades are given that accurately assess how well a person is doing. That being said, there is an entire ulterior set of skills necessary in the work world and I am far from fluent in it. At the very least, I don’t plan on wearing a polo shirt when I go looking for a full time job at our next career fair.