The Office Walls Are Closing In
Ben Woodward
September 27, 2019
The Office Walls Are Closing In
If you are a Star Wars fan, you will remember the classic scene when Chewie, Hans, Leia, and Luke were trapped in the trash compactor on the Death Star. As they hid from the Storm Troopers, the walls began to close in.Does your office ever start to feel that way? By the end of the workday, I am far more productive if I leave the building.By leaving, there is less risk of interruption from phone calls and colleagues stopping by, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to clear your head and work in a new environment. Where do you like to work, if not in the office? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most common choices. HomeAdvantages: Working from home is many people's favorite alternative. You have access to everything you need: a charging station, optional background noise, food and drink, and it comes at no cost. You also have more control over your environment, meaning you can avoid distractions or seek them out should you require a break.Disadvantages: You will likely find working from home a huge test of will power. Your home is where you relax; it is where you escape from work, which is why motivating yourself to work from home is very difficult. In addition, if you live with family, spouse, or roommates it can be difficult to work if they seek out your attention. Coffee ShopsAdvantages: The change of scenery can be helpful to productivity, and a certain amount of background noise is usually preferable to total silence. In addition, coffee shops can often give you the chance to work outside, unlike the office, and access to beverages and snacks if required. Disadvantages: You do not have control of your environment, which means if someone starts speaking loudly on the phone, the location becomes very busy, or there are no charging ports, you will have to adapt. In addition, you pay for the privilege of working there, which can add up. LibraryAdvantages: If distractions detract from your ability to work, there is no better place than a library. It costs nothing and you will have access to a comfortable environment. The Library also has the advantage of being a new environment; the mere act of going out of your way to the library could focus your attention. Disadvantages: Trapping yourself in an environment where all you can do is focus on your work can be difficult; there may be little opportunity to grab coffee, or use the bathroom, etc. unless you are willing to pack up your laptop.Transportation Advantages: This is a great use of your time. If you are on a train, plane, or automobile, you have little else to do besides entertain yourself or work. It can also give you something on which to focus besides the monotony of travel.Disadvantages: Access to internet or charging stations will likely be your biggest challenge working on transportation. In addition, the cramped space and constant interruptions will make for difficult working environment.Wherever you choose to work, ultimately it is a question of what works best for you and your boss. Personally, I am a coffee shop worker and do so regularly. If you can work late into the night or early on a Saturday morning with the TV on and in the comfort of your bed, go for it!
4 Ways to Overcome a Mistake in the Workplace
Ben Woodward
September 9, 2019
4 Ways to Overcome a Mistake in the Workplace
Whether due to poor communication, an overbearing work schedule, or forgetfulness, mistakes happen in the workplace. For the strongest employees, it's not a common occurrence, but it is a certainty.For the most part, mistakes like forgetting to send an email or double booking yourself are easily fixed and there is no need to trouble your boss with the issue.Other mistakes, like the ones I will focus on in this blog, require you to repair the damage. They happen, and the way you go about managing the situation will say more about you as an employee than most of what you get right. Here is how you can handle mistakes like a true professional.1. Assess the damage and develop a plan of actionHow bad is the mistake? What are the overall consequences? Think about how much time you require to fix it and whom you should notify. Give yourself a moment to calm down; when you discover a big mistake it can be easy to panic – that will not help anyone.via GIPHY The next and most important step is that you have a plan of action before going to your boss. Start brainstorming how you intend to fix the problem; think about the best possible solutions and some of the questions your boss is likely to ask you when you present them. It is important that you know how you are going to fix it before you go in.2. Meet with your bossThis is the hard part -- telling your boss about the mistake. The key here is to explain exactly what happened. I recommend you do not omit any information and you ensure that you are humble and apologetic – do not lay blame, just tell the facts.Immediately present to your boss how you intend to fix the problem and answer any questions they might have. Following your meeting, you should also follow up with your boss on any unanswered questions. It is likely that your recommendation, if well thought out, will be adopted. Be prepared however for your boss to propose an alternative solution and if that is the decided upon option, run with it.via GIPHY3. Implement the solution Keep your boss up to date on the important steps to fixing your mistake and alert everyone who may be impacted. Be strategic and have confidence that your plan of action is the right one. After a bruising mistake, it can be easy to question yourself. 4. Learn from the experienceAs I said at the beginning, mistakes are inevitable, even the ones that require a lot of work to fix. For the most part, assuming your mistake is one of human error and not a breach of moral code, they are forgivable. Any organization seeking staff who never make mistakes will find themselves with an empty office. The key is to learn; ask yourself what you could have done differently. While others may be at fault, the most successful employees are those who are self-critical and learn ways to avoid mistakes in future, whether it's your own mistake or if you must figure out who you need to stay on top of. If you come away from your mistake a better employee, it'll be forgotten in no time. via GIPHY
Putting the Business in Business Casual
Sheridan Nolen
August 19, 2019
Putting the Business in Business Casual
If you're like me and always doubt what business casual means, here's a quick tutorial. Business Casual: a style of clothing less formal than traditional business wear, but still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression. It typically includes slacks or khakis, a dress shirt or polo shirt, blouses, dresses or skirts at knee-length or longer, and dress shoes. During cold weather, knit sweaters and vests are also acceptable. Business casual outfits provide a more relaxed look but still indicate professionalism. It can be hard to develop a clear understanding of business casual expectations if you have just started a new job or if it's your first time attending an event. Different employers and groups have a variety of expectations for business casual, but common denominators exist among them. Here are some general tricks to mastering business casual attire.1. Jackets and blazers are optional. Unlike business formal attire, business casual outfits can be worn with or without a suit jacket or blazer. It is entirely optional! You are not expected to wear a jacket or blazer in a business casual setting. via GIPHY2. If you'd wear it to the gym, leave it at home. Sorry ladies, but leggings aren't pants in the business world. They belong underneath dresses and skirts. Gentlemen, windbreakers and track jackets shouldn't be worn in a business casual setting either. Business casual does not include athletic wear. If you'd wear it to the gym, just leave it at home. via GIPHY3. Jeans are hit or miss. In general, avoid jeans in a business casual wardrobe. Some offices permit jeans as acceptable business casual clothing, but you should still avoid light-washed or ripped jeans to maintain a professional look. Pair your jeans with a button-up or dress shirt, a jacket, a good quality belt, and neat shoes. If you are wearing a button-up shirt, adding a tie is up to you. via GIPHY4. Dress up.The stress of feeling under-dressed is far worse than showing up overdressed for work or an event. For this reason, always dress up if you are unsure of business casual expectations. For example, many companies consider polo shirts part of the business-casual spectrum. If you are unsure whether this is the case with your current job or an event you are attending, go with a button-up shirt and a tie. Always dressing up does not mean wearing a three-piece suit as business casual – it means wear a jacket and tie, even if you're not sure if others will. via GIPHY5. Observe other employees.Your easiest tool to decoding what your office considers business casually is looking at your colleagues. Making observations about what people around you wear is the perfect way to gauge what your employer expects you to wear when they say business casual.
Beyond Your Job Description
Sheridan Nolen
August 5, 2019
Beyond Your Job Description
Good employees always complete their assigned tasks and duties on time and do them thoroughly. The work they present is up to the standard their boss expects. However, doing the minimum does not advance a good employee's career. What should you do to level-up? What does it take to become an exceptional employee? Going beyond your expected job responsibilities paves the way for advancing your career. Whether you're looking to move up in your current office or want a strong recommendation for another position elsewhere, here are some ways you can become an exceptional employee. An exceptional employee has a two-job mindset. Your first job is the one you were hired to do. The second job you decide for yourself. As an exceptional employee, you'll look for ways you can help different departments or people around you, even if you do not normally interact with each other. You'll help others with projects or tasks that you otherwise might not have done if you had not asked. By doing this, you demonstrate your commitment to the organization, company, or office. Exceptional employees are those who demonstrate that they are dynamic, collaborative members in the workplace. via GIPHYAn exceptional employee is open to developing new skills.You were hired because you have the necessary skills and qualifications to complete the basic description on the job application. Take it a step further. As an exceptional employee, you'll take initiative by challenging yourself to develop new skills, even if they are difficult and take a long time to learn. Exceptional employees know that stepping out of their comfort zones will not go unnoticed by their boss. Not only is learning new skills indicative of your desire to learn, but demonstrates your commitment to challenge yourself on behalf of the company. Reading a book by an expert in your field or taking extra certification courses are two great examples of going beyond your job description to enhance the work you are assigned to do. This behavior also sets a new standard for who is hired for your current position in the future. via GIPHYAn exceptional employee asks for more responsibilities, but doesn't drown. Your boss might be pleased with your performance at work, but they will be impressed if you have a chance to help alleviate their workload. It might not seem like it on the surface, but they can almost always use an extra hand. As an exceptional employee, you won't be afraid to ask your boss or supervisor for more responsibilities. Perhaps you want more challenging tasks or a larger quantity of the type of work you are already doing. You might even get a chance to work on a higher-ranking project if you simply ask for more work. Asking for more responsibilities is a testament to your diligence at work. It is important not to overload yourself while you're asking for more work. Know your personal limits and capabilities. Do not take on additional responsibilities if it is going to interfere with your ability to complete your basic job description duties. via GIPHY
Do's and Don’ts of Small Talk
Sheridan Nolen
July 22, 2019
Do's and Don’ts of Small Talk
I'm sure you've heard the phrase, “It's not what you know – it's who you know.” Most professional opportunities spark from conversation. Striking up a good conversation starts with a little bit of small talk. Because someone at a cocktail hour could potentially be your next boss, you want to make sure your short interactions leave a lasting, positive impression. It's important that you start off the conversation the right way. Here are some Do's and Don'ts of Small Talk.1. DO repeat someone's name.People will remember when you take extra care to catch their name. When someone introduces themselves to you, respond with “It's nice to meet you, [their name].” Using someone's name yields good results because people love receiving special attention. You are also much more likely to remember someone's name if you repeat it after meeting them. When the conversation is wrapping up, it doesn't hurt to repeat their name again. You could use something like, “It was nice talking to you, [their name]. Hopefully we will run into each other again soon.” This will leave a lasting impression. via GIPHY2. DO smile.Have you ever thought someone who looked angry or sad seemed approachable? Of course not! If you're looking to make friends at an event, you should keep a smile on your face. Nobody wants to start a conversation with a negative Nancy. 3. DO use small talk to start a meaningful conversation.Making new friends starts with meaningful conversation, but this can feel overwhelming being in a room with many people you do not know. You might be thinking, “Do I even have anything in common with these people?” The answer is yes! Everyone in the room is at the event for a reason. Don't be nervous. For me, one of the easiest conversation starters is a compliment. “I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” is a great way to break the ice. People love to be complimented. You can follow up by asking, “What brings you here?” or “How did you get involved with [organization hosting the event]?” Asking questions like “Are you from around here?” or “What do you do when you're not working?” help demonstrate your genuine interest in getting to know someone. This will start an engaging conversation. via GIPHY4. DON'T end a conversation abruptly. Don't look around for a reason to escape a conversation, even if it is going terribly. Leaving a conversation can be done gracefully. When you notice a conversation is starting to slow down, end it on a positive note. At a natural break in the conversation, smile and find a spontaneous transition. For example, “Well, I think I am going to grab another drink. It was great to meet you, [their name]!” is an acceptable, polite way to end a conversation. 5. DON'T spam your business cards.If you build enough rapport with someone, it is likely that they will give you their business card. It's easy to see past people who are simply speaking to you just to get your contact information. You also don't want to be the person who hands their business card to everyone. Make your connections meaningful by having a conversation worthy of you receiving the other person's business card. via GIPHY
What Makes a Great Intern Program?
Gen Sanchez and Ben Woodward
July 5, 2019
What Makes a Great Intern Program?
For every young politico, interning in Washington, D.C. is a dream come true. It is the opportunity to live and work in the heart of political activity.Luckily, there are many internship programs from which to choose. In particular, the summer internship programs offer the most choice not just professionally, but also socially, as D.C. comes to life with social and cultural events.For recruiters, finding interns is not difficult; but to attract the very best talent, organizations must compete. While payment is important in exchange for hard work, many interns understand it is not always possible to pay a living wage. It's not often money that motives the best talent to apply, it's the following.NetworkingThis is probably the most beneficial part of an internship. If interns are not going to happy hours, conferences, and policy luncheons at least once a week, they have wasted their time. The connections interns make are critical for their future success. Ensure that you provide interns with the time and the knowledge to make good contacts.via GIPHYOpportunity for GrowthAt the Leadership Institute, one or two interns from each class are commonly hired as full-time staff. This incentivizes interns to perform their best and shows their hard work does pay off. This is great for recent graduates or upcoming seniors still unsure of their next step after college.HousingFor many interns, affordable housing is the difference between coming out to D.C. or not. Organizations like Leadership Institute offer free housing, and George Washington University opens its dorms. As an organization, work with your interns to ensure they know what is available.via GIPHYGiving critical feedbackThis is crucial to the success of your interns. Aspiring professionals should to be taught how to see their projects through to completion, and then taught how to improve. Organizations do their interns no favors by treating them with kid gloves. Make sure your intern knows their weaknesses, so they walk away from your organization stronger.A positive work environmentNobody wants to work in a place where their work or is not valued. Remember, your intern today is your colleague or coalition partner tomorrow. When they're working for your organization you enjoy a close relationship; their time interning with you will affect how they work with you in future.via GIPHY
The Professional's Guide to Basic Dinner Etiquette
Sheridan Nolen
June 3, 2019
The Professional's Guide to Basic Dinner Etiquette
Sharing a meal is an excellent way to build interpersonal relationships. In fact, you can learn a lot about a person by the way they eat. It is rumored that President Ronald Reagan once said, “You can tell a lot about a fella by his way of eating jellybeans.” While you most likely won't be eating jellybeans at a formal dinner, it is worth noting that your actions, going as far as the way you eat, matter.Throughout your career, you will be invited into homes for formal dinners or have the opportunity to attend special galas. I wish I had understood dinner etiquette tips before attending these events. I look back and realize I might have looked immature with my lack of formal table manners. Having proper dinner etiquette will leave a lasting impression on potential employers, your current boss, and your peers. Being a courteous dinner guest at an important event, or in someone's home, demonstrates your respect for the host and other guests. via GIFERHere are a some ways you can exercise proper dinner etiquette.1. If you are a guest at a dinner party, bring a small gift for the host.The dinner host has spent countless hours cleaning their home, preparing food, and contacting guests in order to throw a successful party. Bringing a small gift, like a bottle of wine or flowers, is a nice gesture to demonstrate your gratitude for the host's hard work. via GIPHY2. Do not be the first one to start eating.At a dinner event, the guest of honor at a table will be the first one to eat. Once they begin, everyone else at the table may proceed. If there is not a specific guest of honor, then the host or hostess of the dinner party assumes that role. If you are at a gala or other event that does not have a guest of honor or host at your table, you must wait until everyone is seated with their food to begin eating. 3. Never touch your food!Unless you're eating fried chicken or bread, using silverware is the only way to politely eat your food. Eating with your hands looks quite animalistic. Need I say more?via GIPHY4. Hold your fork and knife properly.When cutting meat (and other foods), it is customary in the United States to hold your knife in your right hand and your fork in the left hand, tines down. The fork should be used to hold the meat in place as you cut off one small piece of meat. You should then place the knife on the right side of your plate and shift the fork to your right hand to eat the piece of meat. Repeat this process for each piece of meat that you eat. Yes – that means cutting and eating individual pieces at a time. Never cut up several pieces of meat at once.5. Introduce yourself to the other guests at the table.Personally, I find few things more awkward than having to eat a meal next to someone I have never met. Also, it's rude to sit next to someone and not acknowledge them. Upon arriving at the table, introduce yourself to guests who you do not know. Not only is this polite, but it also creates an opportunity to expand your professional network. via GIPHY
Informal Mentors: Friends You Never Knew You Had!
Ben Woodward
May 6, 2019
Informal Mentors: Friends You Never Knew You Had!
Growing up, we depend on mentors to teach us life skills and prepare us to stand on our own two feet. It starts with our parents, maybe an older sibling, grandparents, and then teachers. All of us can remember the most important lessons they taught us… where they succeeded, and where they made mistakes. My father taught me to go the extra mile and that nothing comes free. My mother taught good manners, and to care for the people around me. My sister taught me how to succeed academically and get into good schools. Now at 26, it is sometimes easy to be arrogant – “I don't need help” and “I know what I'm doing” are thoughts that cross my mind all too often. via GIPHYNo doubt, you have expertise and you are probably someone others look up to. However, no one ever stops developing, and you can always learn something from somebody. As you continue in your career, start looking for informal mentors who can help you grow. Here are five characteristics of a great mentor.1. They possess skills you aspire to obtainA mentor does not have to be someone in your place of work, and does not have to be older or senior to you. Often, a great mentor has a skill they are willing to teach you; such as writing, networking, public speaking, etc. If you identify someone who is great at a skill you would like to develop, ask him or her to teach you. 2. They are respectedA good mentor has to be someone people look up to, not just as a worker, but also as a person. Being good at your job is important, but that can be undermined by the personality of the individual. Ensure that people respect your new mentor. via GIPHY3. They take time out of their day to help othersDo not invest your time in someone who does not reciprocate. Not everyone is helpful because of the demands their time or lack of enthusiasm. Find a mentor who is willing to invest in you and roots for you to succeed.4. They don't sugar-coat There are few people more valuable in your life than those who tell you what you do not want to hear. A great mentor is someone who is willing to tell you what you do wrong and work with you to fix it.via GIPHY5. They understand confidentiality A mentor is someone you should be able to confide in. Do not choose a mentor who gossips, or is in a position where they have to report certain details. For example, if you are facing a cross roads in your career, a mentor outside of your current place of work could be helpful to give you honest and confidential advice. Finally, no matter how far you are in your career, you can learn from someone. Look for great mentors in your career and be humble enough to seek their guidance. via GIPHY
Be your boss’ go-to
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
April 22, 2019
Be your boss’ go-to
About a week ago, a guest lecturer came to work to teach about management. The advice he gave was incredible, and I can confidently say that as a young professional, my attitude about work has significantly changed. Although I cannot share the management lecture in its entirety, I'll share one idea which has stayed with me. The secret to becoming the go-to woman or man is anticipation. In other words, if you think ahead and preemptively meet the needs of your supervisor you will set yourself apart from your peers almost immediately. So here are three ways to become the Robin to your boss' Batman. via GIPHY1. Understand how your tasks and responsibilities are linked to their larger objectives. Usually, the work your supervisor is engaged in will be one level above the tasks you are engaged in. If you are the one drafting the memo, your boss is probably the one who will be presenting it to their boss. Or if you are organizing a database, your supervisor may be taking the data to create a visual aid for a client. When you are aware of where your smaller task fits into the larger goal, you and your boss can cooperate more definitively with one another. This will take you from assistant to partner in the mind of your supervisor. 2. Prepare your work as if it is going to be published. via GIPHYAlways remember that your supervisor's job is to delegate tasks to you. Your responsibility is to execute these tasks flawlessly. For instance, if you write reports for your supervisor, write them as if they are going directly to print. Treat the draft as if it will be published the moment you submit it to your boss. Make it easy for them to trust your work. Proofread what you write.Ask a trusted colleague for a second eye, and then, when you are sure that your work is perfect…PROOFREAD it AGAIN. 3. Get to know your bossOf course, it should be a given that you must always interact with your boss in a professional manner. I am not recommending that you necessarily go out for drinks with your boss or analyze their social media pages. I am suggesting that you integrate your work into their routines. If you know your boss checks emails at 9:30am every morning, make certain you have sent in the most important work to them by that time. Or if you know they do most of their meeting prep after lunch, hand them your findings on their way back to the desk. Even if Batman is the greatest D.C. hero of all time…he would be nowhere without Robin. Your boss knows you work hard. Anticipating your boss' needs will show you care about their success and the success of the organization. And that makes you a hero too. via GIPHY
5 Ways to Ease Your Commute
Ben Woodward
April 4, 2019
5 Ways to Ease Your Commute
You wake up on a Tuesday morning, around 7:00 am. After snoozing your alarm once, with all your might you drag yourself out of bed and get ready for the day. You just about have time for a quick breakfast before you make your way to work. You arrive at the metro… it's busy. Waiting at the platform, you see countless competitors arrive for your rightful place on the busy metro carriage. You miss the train because someone needed the extra space for their bike!Does this sound like your commute to work? I must admit, I'm a little spoiled these days. I have had jobs that required me to drive and then catch multiple trains. In the winter I remember scraping the ice off my windshield with one hand and attempting to eat my cereal with the other. I vowed, never again. Today, I live just a 5-minute walk from work.via GIPHYA difficult commute to work was not conducive to productivity when I arrived. I was either in a bad mood or I'd spend the first part of my morning drying off from the rain, or changing into my work clothes because it was too hot to wear a suit. While not everyone has the option of living close to work, especially in the city, there are ways to improve your commute.1. Go to bed and wake up earlierProbably easier said than done. We're all guilty of hitting the snooze button one too many times or binge-watching The Office hours after we should have gone to sleep. If you can reorganize your routine however, you'll find yourself much happier in the long run.More time in the morning means you can eat a full breakfast (I recommend breakfast tacos), you won't have to rush and risk forgetting something important, and you may even have time to walk. Also, the earlier you leave, it's more likely you will beat rush hour.via GIPHY2. Stop somewhere on your way to workTreat yourself before you arrive at work in the morning. If you give yourself something small to look forward to, it'll give you more incentive to leave the house on time and improve your mood.This can be something as simple as buying a fancy latte, taking 20 minutes to read, or even walking your dog a little longer. Whatever brings you joy in the morning, give yourself the time to do it. 3. Negotiate with your boss to start earlier and finish earlierIf your commute is really causing you difficulty because you live far away or there's temporary maintenance on your route, ask your boss if you can make different arrangements. Many organizations are open to flexible working hours, providing you have proven yourself a reliable employee. It may be that you can start an hour earlier and finish an hour earlier to avoid rush-hour. 4. Entertain yourself Find a way to entertain yourself during the stressful morning commute. More and more people extoll the virtues of podcasts as an opportunity to learn and entertain themselves. For others, music or reading is the answer.Whatever brings you joy in the morning, use it to ease the stress of your commute and put yourself in the right frame of mind before work. via GIPHY5. Not forgetting your commute home Somehow the commute home doesn't feel as bad because you're heading home to dinner rather than a busy workday. Your evening commute can be tedious however, especially when you spend it in traffic. Whenever I go to a sports event or concert, where many people are battling to get out of the same venue, I have always used the opportunity to go to a bar or have an evening stroll to avoid waiting around. By the time I decide to go home, my journey is far easier.I recommend the same with your commute home. If the rush hour is making your journey miserable, take extra time to run errands nearby, grab coffee with coworkers, or go to a gym near the office. By the time you have done that, your journey will be much smoother. Too many people consider their commute the worst part of their day. It doesn't have to be!
The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of the Professional Conference
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
March 25, 2019
The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of the Professional Conference
I recently attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for the very first time. It was truly a unique experience, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Conferences, on their own, can be great experiences. If you know how to approach a large professional event, you can leverage almost any conference in your favor. Let's examine some “DO's” and “DON'Ts” you should keep in mind before, during, and after a professional event or conference. Before the conference… DO…Plan ahead. Take the time to conduct research about the event you will be attending.via GIPHYYou should know almost everything you can reasonably know about the event. Be aware of every speaker in attendance, where they will be speaking, and for how long. If the event will feature booths with sponsors, vendors, and organizations, you should know which ones will be there and estimate how much time you should spend interacting with them. Be conscious of the venue itself. The location, the typical climate, or chance of inclement weather while you are in the area and prepare your wardrobe accordingly. Here is a strategy tip: Imagine yourself as a member of the “Events” staff at the event, and consider what you might expect them to know. During the conference…DO…Get plenty of rest. via GIPHYThe conference lifestyle is a true grind. The programming can begin early in the morning and continue into the late hours of the evening. This aspect of the typical conference schedule has pros and cons. Pro: the longer days mean you have more time to learn from speakers and network with other conference attendees. Con: it is a long day. DO…Remember to be flexible. The plans you made will change. Perhaps you had planned to attend a program that the conference is offering, but a connection you made after an earlier session would like to grab a coffee during that time. You must then make a decision based on the plans you have made thus far. Your plan is a guideline to keep you from getting lost in the endless possibilities the event presents to you. DO NOT…Make a fool of yourself. Nobody wants to be the person who leaves the event with a ton of business cards, but not an ounce of dignity. As long as the conference is on, YOU are “on.” Quite simply, during the event you will encounter scores of people. Some could be potential employers, colleagues, and perhaps most importantly, friends. You do not want to lose their respect before you have even met them! Any time you have food or drink at the conference pace yourself and remember your manners. Dress to impress. Wearing the appropriate attire reflects well on you as a professional. It means that you respect and honor those around you, it shows that you think about the impressions you make on others, but most importantly, it shows that you respect yourself. After the conference…DO…Follow up with new contacts you made at the conference. Send an email thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. Mention a topic you were talking about and ask if they would be willing to continue the conversation at some later date. DO NOT…Delay. Follow up with new contacts within 48 hours of meeting them. via GIPHYTry to keep all of your new connections alive. The best way to do this is to remain prominent in the mind of the person you connected with. So get going! Find a conference that interests you and make it the most productive week of your professional life.
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
Carol Wehe Cocks
February 22, 2019
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
“On Tuesday, February 19, one of our employees, Hayden Williams, was violently assaulted on University of California-Berkeley campus while working to recruit conservative student leaders in his capacity as Field Representative for The Leadership Institute. Hayden was invited to campus by Berkeley students who were part of the local Turning Point USA chapter.This event is shocking, but it is not isolated. Conservative and libertarian students have faced violence and intimidation for sharing their political philosophy on campus from coast to coast in this country. Unfortunately, the Leadership Institute reports on incidents like Hayden's all too often on our news site CampusReform.org.Violence has no place in the public policy process -- and it should never be the response to students who exercise their right to free speech. The Leadership Institute calls on the University of California-Berkeley to identify and hold accountable the assailant to the full extent of the law.”– Bryan Bernys, Vice President of Campus Programs at the Leadership Institute.
International Travel Builds Perspective for Two Interns
Grayce McAllister
February 11, 2019
International Travel Builds Perspective for Two Interns
When you look for learning opportunities or ways to expand your skills and broaden your knowledge base, it can be daunting to determine what is most valuable and where to spend your time. Two of Leadership Institute's Spring 2019 interns decided they would spend time abroad in 2018. As you read about their experiences, see you can use international travel to broaden your skills.Abbey Bongiorno, Leadership Institute's Development program intern, spent the fall of 2018 studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain.GrayceMcAllister, Leadership Institute's International Training intern, spent the summer of 2018 interning abroad in Haifa, Israel.Q. What did you learn in your study abroad?A. Abbey: “I learned so much from my study abroad, I could write an entire trilogy. I have gained an unbelievable amount of independence -- even though my school was a ten-hour drive from home, being in another country is even further out of anyone's comfort zone. Not only did I have to live and go to school with strangers, but I also had to speak a language that wasn't my own.”A. Grayce: “By interning in Israel, there were many experiences that challenged me, to see things through a new light. One of the first things I learned, is to explore and have an intuitive mind, open to discovery. Especially in Israel, there are many historical, Biblical, and current sites of great interest that await detection. “By interning for a company in Israel, I was able to learn business and interpersonal communication skills that would not have otherwise crossed my mind. It taught me to be more aware, observant, and eager to try new things. “Travelling internationally allows you to find out more about other places, but it also allows you to discover more about yourself, the interests you have, or challenge some of your preconceived ideas about other cultures.”Q. What cultural differences struck you in your travels?A. Grayce: “Israel was a fantastic place to visit and realize how awesome I have it here in the United States. Continually, we see there are many problems in the United States, but if we look at Israel, they are under a constant threat of being overtaken or attacked. “When I visited a Kibbutz near the Gaza border, the guide told us that the townspeople have seventeen seconds from time of missile launched to the time it lands. During this time, they must find shelter. Therefore, there are bomb shelters within close proximity to everything; but the item that struck me as most powerful is the attitude people have about the shelters. “As you can see in the picture, Israelis enjoy where they live and would not change it. They look for the best in their situation and therefore, paint the bomb shelters to fit into the specific area of the town. That made me appreciate how safe I am here in the US and realize that when you can't change the circumstances, your attitude is what counts.”A. Abbey: “I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to study abroad. Many of my mentors told me the one thing they most regret in their lifetimes (not just their undergraduate career) was not studying abroad. “I met so many amazing people, learned about and lived in different cultures, and really grew to appreciate where I'm from. Spain itself has only had its current constitution for 40 years. Learning about the workings of another country's laws was a real eye-opener.”
5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
January 23, 2019
5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Have you ever been lost? This is not a euphemism for anything. I am using the word “lost” in its most literal sense. It's that moment when you have walked for over an hour, and somehow you end up exactly where you began. Walking in circles, confused and disoriented. Such moments are characterized by a feeling of helplessness. When you start a new job, you may experience moments where you feel confused. You may feel lost. In those moments, one of the best things that you can do is to ask for directions. Most people in the workplace are eager to help you succeed. However, mentors are more likely to help a self-starter, or somebody who demonstrates they are willing to take initiative. So here are a few questions your supervisors want you to ask them. 1. “Who in the office do you recommend I get to know?”via GIPHYThis question indicates two things. First, it shows you have a desire to get acquainted with colleagues, which immediately categorizes you as a team player. Second, this question indicates that you have tact. If you do not know every person in your workplace, introducing yourself to a shortlist of folks will make for an office space with more friends and mentors who know you. This is the best way to establish yourself as a valuable member of the team.2. Following a project submission, ask: “How can I improve my work?” One of the best ways to encourage constructive criticism is to provide work worth critiquing. When you have completed work satisfactorily, open yourself up to suggestions from your supervisor. Even if some of the advice seems a bit harsh, remember that five minutes of brutal honesty may save you five years of professional embarrassment due to avoidable errors. 3. “How would you like to be informed of my progress?” Your supervisor is busy. You probably would not have your job if they were not continuously preoccupied. With this in mind, consider establishing timetables that suit your supervisor's needs as well as your own. 4. “Are you facing any challenges with which I can assist?” via GIPHYAsking this question shows them you understand the fact that your supervisor is busy and you wish to reduce their overall workload. It does not matter what you help them with, they will be glad to let you know what projects they are involved in. This also provides you with an opportunity to “earn your stripes” and demonstrate your abilities. *Remember, under-promise and over-perform.*5. “Where do you see this department going in the next year?” via GIPHYThis is a unique question to ask your supervisor. Essentially, this question demonstrates you are committed to the long-term success of your department. When supervisors see you are truly interested in the teams success overall, they will want to include you in their journey. This will give you a window into the past, present, and future of the department and perhaps the organization as a whole. You will have a better understanding of where you fit into their story, and this will keep you from getting lost in your own.
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
Ben Woodward
January 7, 2019
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
At the beginning of 2018, my boss and I planned a number of goals for the coming year. The competitive streak in me enjoys targets; they're an opportunity to exceed expectations and push yourself to excel.By the end of 2018, the Careers Division had significantly exceeded the targets set. We were thrilled.Following the success of 2018, the question remains, how does the Division continue to improve in 2019? By continuing to increase the numbers of people who learn essential skills, but also to never allow a focus on numbers to hinder quality. It's important for you and I to do what we do well.via GIPHYAs you start to think about your own career goals in 2019, I encourage you to not only think about how to stand out but to increase the quality of your output in 2019. Here are three ways you can improve the quality of your work.1. Listen to feedback and act on it.Whether it's from your boss, a colleague, or your clients and customers, feedback is precious. If you're fortunate enough to have people around you who are frank and give you honest feedback, don't allow your ego to prevent you from accepting it. If you don't have naturally frank people giving you feedback, invite and encourage feedback. It's vital to seek improvement in everything you do.When you get feedback, make an effort to note it down and figure out how you can act upon it. For example, if you organize an event, send surveys out and make it your mission to communicate how you've acted on the feedback to the person who gave it.via GIPHY2. Identify talent on your team and use it.Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your team is a critical skill, whether you're the manager or not. When working on projects, share out responsibilities based on what aspects of the work you and your colleagues will excel at. If you have strengths, offer to apply them to the team as a whole and not just your projects. Likewise, if you have weaknesses, you can ask your colleagues to assist. You can also ask your colleagues to help train you in the aspects of your job you find confusing.via GIPHY3. Allow yourself time to make improvements.Improving the quality of your work takes time whether it's through training or effective planning. Assign yourself time in the day for quality control. For example, if you take surveys from an event you ran, write up a summary of the feedback -- what went well and what didn't and how you intend to act on it. Submit the summary to your boss, so you have accountability.Remember, knowing what you do well is just as important as knowing your weaknesses. If you know what you do well, you can apply the same tactics to other projects.via GIPHYFinally, if there are any skills you'd like to improve in the New Year, the Leadership Institute has many training opportunities for you to learn to be more effective in your career: https://www.leadershipinstitute.org/Training/?Training=Career.
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
Carol Wehe Cocks
January 2, 2019
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
The Leadership Institute (LI) celebrated the close of 2018 with 14,687 trained. Since 1979, LI has trained 209,074 students.In 2018, LI trained its 200,000th student at a Youth Leadership School held at LI's Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, VA.Seventy-nine percent of LI's 2018 students were trained outside LI's headquarters. The Institute conducted training programs in 43 states. Leadership Institute graduates serving in the 116th Congress include three U.S. Senators and 26 members of the House of Representatives. LI's Campus Leadership Program finished 2018 with 2,111 active conservative student groups. 52 of these groups were student publications. LI's Campus Reform Online attracted 4,733,130 unique visitors and received 11.9 million page views in 2018 compared to 11.7 Million page views in all of 2017, 10.2 million page views in all of 2016, 5.7 million page views in all of 2015, 4.6 million page views in all of 2014, 5.8 million page views in all of 2013, and 2.8 million page views in all of 2012.CampusReform.org students, staff, and stories were featured 476 times on local and national television programs in 2018 compared to 216 placements in all of 2017.The Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program published stories by 104 student journalists. Campus Correspondents investigate and report on liberal bias, abuse, and indoctrination on college campuses nationwide. The Institute looks forward to its 40th anniversary in 2019.For a full report of Leadership Institute's 2018 successes, click here.
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
Ben Woodward
November 21, 2018
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
I love Thanksgiving. Being from the UK, I had not celebrated this wonderful holiday until moving to Washington, D.C. two years ago. The sentiment of this holiday is important; being with family, learning to appreciate the opportunities we have, and of course, forgetting about calories for the day!In your professional life, the sentiment of coming together is important too. Professionals depend heavily on each other as do organizations to assist each other to accomplish mutual goals. Your ability to build coalitions can make you an asset; here are four steps to building coalitions. 1. When you start your next project, identify potential coalition partnersThe best way to do this is to break down the various aspects of your project. Figure out the steps you need to take to complete the project and dimensions of the job you can do yourself. For work you can achieve internally, you probably want to avoid burdening others. For work where you require another person's expertise, first look internally within your organization before approaching partner organizations. Identify your coalition partner based on those who are most helpful, organizations closely aligned with yours, and professionals who you know you can work with. 2. Figure out what exactly what you need from your coalition partnerBefore you approach your coalition partner, know your ask. You want to avoid a situation where the coalition partner agrees to something without knowing exactly what is expected of them. You should be clear from the start.Some of the reasons you might approach a coalition partner are for their expertise, and perhaps they specialize in an area of policy you do not understand. Other times you might require the use of their workspace because it is in a prominent location. Most of the time when I approach a coalition partner it is for the use of their connections. Other times, you may want their sponsorship for an event. Whatever it is, make sure you know what you are looking for. via GIPHY3. Make a convincing pitch to your coalition partnerYou can do this by phone, email, or meeting (usually it depends on the nature and size of the ask). The key to a good pitch is a clear focus on how the partnership will benefit their organization. Perhaps you will sponsor one of their events in exchange; you'll give them name recognition, it doesn't cost them anything, you'll provide them with an email list, etc. When making your pitch, lay out a clear plan, timeline, budget, whatever your coalition partner needs to assist you. It's essential that you are easy to work with so that organizations want to help you again in the future. Also, be ready to answer questions or follow up with relevant information. If your ask requires a financial commitment, prepare to negotiate. via GIPHY4. Follow through with your plan and keep a clear line of communication If your coalition partner agrees to assist you, open a group chat on whatever platform you like best where you can share information and list out the respective tasks and dates for completion. This will keep all parties updated on the progress of your mutual project. You may also wish to schedule more meetings and phone calls to strategize and keep everyone on track. Make sure you follow through on whatever you agreed to in exchange for their help. If you decided to pay them, share contact information, etc. you should be prompt in your delivery following the completion of your mutual project. Finally, coalitions are a necessary good in your professional life. They strengthen the bond between organizations and the movement is better off for it. Make sure you uphold your organization's reputation as a reliable partner.via GIPHY
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Ben Woodward
November 5, 2018
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Just over a year ago, I spoke on a panel about non-conventional jobs in the conservative movement. Our task: to educate young professionals about the wide variety of career paths available to them.I was struck by the quality of my fellow panelists and, even as a panelist myself, how much I could learn from them.Among the speakers was Andrew McIndoe, a highly-talented development professional from The Heritage Foundation who served as Director of Donor Relations. Andrew had previously served as Morton Blackwell's intern, an experience that helped shape his career for years to come.Today, Andrew is Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation, a position he was promoted to just a few weeks ago. Andrew is the youngest vice president in Heritage's history and, with his more than 50 staff, is responsible for ensuring Heritage has all the resources it needs to advance conservative principles in the public policy process.I asked Andrew what advice he could offer young people hoping to follow his example:“I'd tell people not to try and replicate the success of another professional; instead, strike out on your own. Exemplify a strong work ethic, eagerly take on any task that comes your way, and do what you say you are going to do.”Andrew went on to say much of his success was because he invested in his professional development. Andrew attended many Leadership Institute trainings, interned at several conservative organizations, and networked and followed up with everyone he met. Most importantly, Andrew worked hard to build his reputation as a results-oriented and dynamic leader.When asked what he most looked forward to in his new role, Andrew said he was excited to partner with thousands of Heritage donors, committed patriots who are deeply concerned about the future of their country. Andrew enjoys his role as a “philanthropic consultant,” who can hear the dreams and concerns of donors and match them with Heritage's vision and mission.Going back to his early days as a Leadership Institute intern, Andrew remembered how working for Morton influenced his career: “My favorite memories are the many meaningful interactions I had with Morton. Whether it was something as simple as going over a project, or more in-depth conversations, I always left with a pearl of wisdom. Morton exemplifies many of the qualities I try to embody as a leader; humble with a selfless commitment to conservative principles.”In addition to this, Andrew has fond memories of living in the Fred Sacher House, the National Fourth of July Conservative Soirée, and the long-lasting friendships he made. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his one-year-old daughter Lottie and his wife, Haley. The McIndoes live on Capitol Hill and mentor Heritage interns as Resident Advisors in the E.W. Richardson Building. Andrew enjoys spending time in the kitchen with food and wine, playing golf, and travelling. In addition, Andrew just received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and looks forward to bringing a business/private sector ethos into his new role.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
Rachel Gill
October 31, 2018
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
You made it through the grueling process that is the job search, you went to interview after interview until finally you landed the job!All your hard work doesn't stop there. It's a new company with new people and you want to make sure you make the right impression on the first day. Here are some tips to make your first day go as smoothly as possible.1. Eat breakfastYou don't know the office culture yet and you might find yourself taking a later lunch than usual. Avoid getting “hangry” and making a bad first impression by giving yourself enough time in the morning to eat breakfast. As a bonus, you'll hopefully be more awake by the time you reach the office!via GIPHY2. Dress to impressIt is much better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You don't want to show up looking too casual. When you put effort into your appearance it shows that you care how you represent yourself. Companies are interested in employees who will represent themselves and their company well. Being under-dressed will garner attention from your superiors for all the wrong reasons.via GIPHY3. Plan out your route to work ahead of timeMaybe you moved to a new city and there are new traffic patterns. Use Google Maps to estimate how much time it will take you to get to the office. You don't want to be late because you got lost. Your boss will probably be forgiving because it's your first day, but you don't want to start off wasting their time.via GIPHY4. Arrive EarlyBecause you planned out your route ahead of time, you can make sure to arrive early. It shows that you took the initiative to prepare and are ready to hit the ground running and get to work -- which is exactly what you were hired to do! Live by the rule that “10 minutes early is on time and on time is late.”5. Come prepared with your own materialsMost offices will have a desk set up with pens, notepads, and sticky notes. On the off chance that you aren't set up with these things right away, it's always better to have than have not. Make sure you have a notepad to take notes on. The first day is usually full of onboarding information, so be sure to write (or type) it all down.via GIPHYBonus: Ask questionsIn my first job in college, I learned that it was much better to ask questions than do something wrong. Your supervisor will appreciate you asking for clarification before you make a mistake that costs them time and/or the organization money.There's no guarantee that your first day will be a smashing success, but by implementing these tips you can give yourself a fighting chance. Most of the time that's all you'll need to crush your first day.via GIPHY
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
Matthew Patterson
October 29, 2018
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
“Do I work or go to college?” Most of us ask that tough question of ourselves at some point. However, there is a third option -- do both!via GIPHYNot many people pick this route, and for good reason. However, some people either don't have a choice or it becomes the preferred option with the increased financial support. Here are some benefits and costs of being a full-time employee and student you should consider:Pro: You will get a head start on other graduates! Many people wait to get started in their career or gain experience until after they graduate, and this can prevent them from achieving their desired job right away. Most employers look for both education and work experience.via GIPHYCon: A full-time school schedule and full-time workweek require good time management, especially when simultaneous. It can be a daunting task to find time to do all your school work while maintaining your work ethic on the job, which can lead to undue stress. Pro: Time Management! Once you get it down it can be one of your most valuable assets. Time management is one of the most fundamental and productive skills you can master, and nothing will do it like taking on two full-time obligations.via GIPHYCon: With papers, work projects, and assignments piling up, something will have to give and it's often your social life. This doesn't mean you won't be able to go out and have fun; you will have to put those time management skills to work and find time to cut loose!via GIPHYPro: You will have unique experience. Not many people work and go to school full time. As Robert Frost said, taking the road less travelled makes all the difference. When you are applying to your next job, being able to handle all this work will make you stand out as a motivated multitasker!Con: In the same way it's difficult to find time to go out and have fun, you can also find it difficult to cook a healthy meal or go to the gym. With proper planning and a 24-hour gym nothing is impossible, but it will take a bit more dedication than it would otherwise!As someone who chose to pursue a career and school at the same time, I can say for myself the pros far outweigh the cons. While I occasionally miss going out with my friends or sleeping in after a long day, the payoff is more than worth the temporary lack of comfort.via GIPHY
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