November 2, 2016 by sophiawding
Q: How often should I reach out to people in my network? I want to maintain authentic connections.
A: LinkedIn is a great way to keep track of your network of contacts, however it still takes personal outreach to keep the connections warm. What do I mean by warm? You want to feel comfortable reaching out to your contacts for a reference or request for an intro to a needed contact. When you stay in touch with your contacts, the connection feels more authentic and asking for a favor feels more natural.
Make a list of crucial contacts: great references for future jobs, past internship cohorts, contacts at companies you want to work at in the future, contacts working in industries you’re interested in working in, possible good business partners for future collaborations, etc. Reach out to these contacts in a quick email or to meet for coffee at least twice a year.
Q: What do I say if I don’t actually have anything to ask from them, but I want to stay in touch?
A: Tell them what you’ve been working on towards your career goals (thanks to their advice/guidance), ask how they are doing and about any interesting (positive) news you’ve just heard about their company. If they are a BBA alum you can fill them in on current McCombs news and/or share fun UT related conversation starters. Also, make sure you’re available to help them when needed. Are they recruiting at UT/McCombs? Usually recruiters love to have a current student contact to get your student perspective/advice.
Q: What is the traditional ladder?
A: Some corporations have a very linear approach when it comes to growing within the company; they have a clear timeline, a starting point (entry-level position) and career path to leadership. Other companies are leaner and therefore you have the opportunity to wear many hats right from the start, to develop cross-over skills, and the opportunity to transfer to different roles/departments quickly. Basically, there is not one “traditional ladder” to climb.
Q: How do I “climb the ladder”/ keep moving up in my career?
A: Here are a few tips to get a job at the next level and keep growing in your career:
- Know what you want next. Map out where you want to be in the future and work towards that goal. Talk with people in roles you aspire to have and check out LinkedIn to learn about different career paths and skills people have in roles/industries you’re interested in working in the future.
- Be willing to take on projects. Show initiative and willingness to figure things out.
- Be self-motivated and eager to learn more and go above and beyond. Keep honing your skills and take every opportunity to grow and develop.
- Be a leader and team player. Work hard, know your stuff, and be the co-worker teammates know they can count on and come to for recommendations and guidance.
- Be open to feedback/criticism. In order to grow, you have to know your pitfalls and where you can improve. Plus feedback from coworkers helps you put your best foot forward to clients, etc.
- Look around for a rock star upper level co-worker that could be a mentor. Learn from them and seek their advice and mentorship.
Q: How do I choose between offers?
A: Evaluate what is important to you and in what order: salary (including benefits, re-location, signing bonus; see BBA Salary Stats), location (do you want to try living in NYC or stay close to home), culture (are you okay with traveling all the time for work), etc.
Listen to your gut. Hopefully you also interviewed them through the recruiting process. Does it feel like the right opportunity for you? Could you work with the people you met and do you feel like you’re a good fit?
Consider your career goals and the skills you need to gain. Do you find the work you will be doing interesting and/or beneficial to your personal growth? You want to consider if the position will help you get to where you want to go next. Does this job set you up to gain the skills you need to obtain your career goals?
Don’t be afraid to commit. I’ve recently become aware of “FOMO” or “Fear of Missing Out” (see our related blog: BBA Peer Insights: Full-Time FOMO). McCombs’ students are fortunate to have many opportunities, however this can also be overwhelming. Make pros and cons lists, compare all of your opportunities side-by-side, meet with your Career Coach and discuss offer negotiations, talk with your parents and friends; make the most informed/educated decision for yourself and feel good about it! This is your first job, not your last job. It’s a stepping stone and the start of your career journey. Whether or not it turns out to be the best decision of your life; it will be a part of your development towards your goals.
Q: Do I start at a big company with a good/well-known reputation or a smaller, less well-known company—how much does brand matter?
A: There is value in both bigger name companies and smaller. It is good to focus on the transferable skills you will get at whichever company you choose and how these skills will help you attain your career goals. You want to be able to add great skills and accomplishments to your resume and examples to share during interviews. It’s most important to be able to sell yourself and your personal brand.
Save the Date for the Upperclassmen Coffee Chat on 11/8; RSVP via RecruitMcCombs!