Monday, August 20, 2012

Your Career and You: “Use Your ‘Wings’!”

I was driving home from an appointment this morning when a bird darted out into the road in front of me. Now this isn’t an uncommon thing, but this particular bird caught my attention.

First of all…he (I’ll assume it was a “guy” bird until told otherwise) didn’t strike me as being the brightest candle on the menorah.

And the look of sheer panic in his beady little eyes told me he really hadn’t thought this through very carefully.

So he hunkered down and picked up speed…running.

My Thoughts...

“It’s a road, for Pete’s sake!...And you’re a bird!!

Why in heaven’s name are you running across the road trying to beat the oncoming traffic?!?

Some Almighty Being gave you wingsnot to use as decorations…to fly.”

Then, me being me, I started thinking about conversations I’ve had recently with students at Curry College, where I oversee the Communication Department’s undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most PR courses, and at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area.

While some of the folks with whom I’ve been chatting both in person and online seem to have their respective acts together and are diligently mining the career opportunities that they discover, others…not so much.

These latter “birds” only bubble up to the surface sporadically…usually when panic sets in because the month’s rent is due and they realize where they are in the jobsearch process.

So why “wings”?

“Wings” are my metaphor for “contacts”…people who can help you rise out of your current situation and soar over the others…your competition for that job.

Where do you find these wings?

In a number of ways:

The point here is that you don’t have to “run” through your job search. You can take advantage of the uplifting support of new and existing friends, colleagues, classmates, teachers…anyone and everyone who can give you a boost.

Sometimes that boost is a referral or a suggested place to look.

Other times, it’s a comforting reassurance that you’re not in this alone…that there are others on the sidelines who believe in you and are cheering you on.

Whatever the case, they’re there for you, so take advantage of them.

Use your “wings” and, with luck, soar into a new opportunity or a fresh start!

“No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.”
-William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” (Proverbs of Hell, l. 15) [1790-1793]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Your Career and You: "They're Not Always 'Little' Things"

Once in a while I wander off mentally and start beating myself up for not “making a difference.” It's a "me" thing, and I've gotten used to it.

I was halfway down that path this morning when my phone rang.

From the other end of the line came a little giggle as my wife, Margaret, excitedly told me that one of the senior people in her company had just returned from vacation and had brought her some chocolates and a little gift.

Now Margaret routinely brings back souvenirs for her friends and co-workers when we go away. But she doesn’t expect others to reciprocate…this is just something she always has done.

And I'm sure the person who brought her these gifts was doing what she would usually do.

But, as I listened to the sheer joy in Margaret's voice, I realized that what we might think of as a “little thing” just might be seen by others as BIG.

And that’s something important to remember as you’re interacting with your co-workers, your friends, strangers who you meet in the course of your day…the actions that you take, the things that you say, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, can make a world of difference to someone else.

I try to emphasize this in my classroom conversations at Curry College, where I’m full-time faculty in the Communication Department and teach most of the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration courses, as well as at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area.

I caution my students that actions, words, and deeds are powerful forces for good as well as for harm. And I urge them to never forget that the person on the receiving end of something you do or say will then make a decision based on your action, word, or deed.

I’m not trying to get all navel-worshippy deep here. I’m just thinking about the feeling of absolute glee that a simple action on the part of one person (way higher in the “food chain,” by the way) brought to someone else.

And, you know what? My day has gotten brighter as well!

“And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”
--Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, “Pleasure” [1923]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Your Career and You: "Enthusiastic" or "Obsessive"?

I started thinking this morning…after a flurry of email conversations with someone about a request he had made (and which he had been assured multiple times had been taken care of)…about the fine line between being perceived as “enthusiastic about an opportunity” and being regarded as “borderline obsessive.”

While this is something I think about from time to time, I haven’t really gone much deeper than that. But I’m thinking I need to.


Because I’m always telling my undergrad Communication students at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as my graduate Organizational and Professional Communication students at Regis College (a very cool part-time gig!) how important follow-up is and how they should be diligent in their follow-up on job or internship applications as well as PR outreach to media and others.

I forget sometimes, though, that “follow-up” can be interpreted in several ways, most of which are good…some of which are just two whiskers short of “creepy.”


Once a week…NOT on a Monday or Friday. I suggest this because of my own work schedules both present and past.
> On Monday, I’m preparing for the week ahead and/or dealing with some issue that bubbled up over the weekend.
> On Friday, I’m reflecting on the week that was and (mentally, at least) promising myself some downtime over the coming weekend.


More than once a week…unless you actually have spoken with someone who suggested you “call back [fill in the blank].”


Because if you’ve left me a message…phone, email, note tied to a brick and thrown through my office window…I will get back to you…when I have time.

I hate to break this to you, but you are not my first priority, no matter how nice you are and how wonderfully formatted your resume (or news release) is.

On the job/internship side of this diatribe…I might be desperate to fill a position or eager to support the internship concept, but I have a “real” job to do as well, and I’ll get to the other stuff as quickly as I can.

On the news release side…if you’ve sent news, I will get back to you…I need your information and you are important to me.

However…if you’ve sent me a “my boss just got an award and he/she wants to let our customers know” release…well…….

I appreciate enthusiasm. My professional colleagues do as well.

I don’t appreciate stalkers or people who disrupt my train of thought or workflow.

Learning the difference between enthusiasm and obsessiveness is part of the “growing up” process for us. You will, as have I, get your hand slapped once in a while.

Take that act as “guidance” and not as “punishment.”

Be enthusiastic, and that enthusiasm will show…in the quality of your work…in the realization of your successes.

Be obsessive and…

Wait! Hear that sound??


“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson - “Essays: First Series. Circles.” [1841]