In the world of business communications, change is a constant. While change may seem stressful, it is actually the best way to learn about ourselves to grow as professionals. As millennials in this challenging industry, landing that dream internship or job is difficult enough. But, then actually succeeding at our new jobs in the midst of all of these technology and industry changes… well, that’s a whole other feat.
The student portion of the 2014 IABC Heritage Region Conference featured keynote speakers and a young professionals panel with expertise on how millennials can succeed in communications roles today. We learned that through all of these changes, we need to continuously grow as new challenges arise and find creative ways to engage with our clients, customers, media and employees.
At the start of the keynote session, Tracy Zimmerman, Director of Global Employee Engagement and Internal Communications for GE Healthcare, asked three students from each side of the room to switch seats. While some students stayed in their seats, others jumped up to participate. We immediately introduced ourselves to the new person next to us. The room began to buzz with friendly conversations and excitement. This was Tracy’s first lesson about engaging: we need to put ourselves out there, raise our hands, jump in, and get to know as many people as possible.
When going through change, you discover what you can handle. Tracy told us to embrace change and pay attention to how we go through it… Does your stomach turn at the thought of something new? Are you energized and excited? Are you inspired with new ideas? When facing change, be flexible, adaptable and ask questions.
Once you establish your professional goal, figure out how you will get there and start by taking your first step. Instead of asking your boss or mentor to help you grow, tell them what you want to achieve and ask for ways they can help you get there. Find out what you need to learn to grow your professional career. Do you need to take on a new role in internal communications or media relations? Should you enroll in a leadership training or Photoshop class? Tracy encouraged us to raise our hands to work on projects that will help us build new skills.
Tracy reminded us to take time to invest in ourselves, particularly around our professional image. To be blunt, our appearances do matter. Our employers want us to represent and uphold the company image and reputation. Tracy pressed us to consider important questions: How do you want to be seen? When you leave a room, what do you want people to say about you?
We also need to invest in our teams. “You can have individual performers, but you need to work as one team,” Tracy said. The best leaders are empathetic and good listeners. First off, you need to show that you understand and care about people. To fix problems, ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to find solutions.
- Location matters (easier to hire someone local who won’t have to move)
- Proofread for typos
- Create one resume as a template and “spin it” for each company
- Showcase only your best points from work and school
- Make sure your resume and LinkedIn match (they both need to be recent)
- Match tone of organization
- Show that you did your research
- Reflect your interest in the company
- Do your homework on the company
- Google yourself (employers will do this!)
- Have three clear bullet points about why you want the job
- Have a list of (good!) questions to ask the interviewer
- Example: Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?
Beginning your first job (yay!)
- Respond to emails from your supervisor
- Ask questions
- Follow-up and report progress on projects
- After 30 days…
- Set up a structure for success (organize desk, set goals, plot out how you will be successful)
- Plan vacation time (reset!)
Catherine closed with memorable advice: “Stay hungry. The day you’re not learning, your career is over.”
A Young Professionals Panel featured Timothy Barry, Event Coordinator at CBI, Advanstar Pharmaceutical Sciences Group, Tiffany Pinciaro, Internal Communications Senior Marketing Specialist at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and Hayley Collins, Communications Consultant for Public Partnerships at Public Consulting Group.