7 People You Must Meet at the NACE Conference in Chicago

Dan BlackDan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting, EY LLP
2013-14 NACE President
Twitter: @DanBlack_EY
LinkedIn: Dan Black

 
I have a confession to make: I LOVE people. I mean, I love virtually EVERYONE … almost without exception. It’s actually become a running joke among my family and friends whenever I talk about meeting someone new. I will run through a litany of positive qualities that I’ve observed in my first encounter with the person and will then get a statement like, “let me guess Dan, you REALLY liked them, right?” To which I will enthusiastically reply in the affirmative as my friends share a sarcastic laugh at my expense. What can I say? When it comes to other people I’m consistently glass-half-full.

With that as a backdrop you can probably imagine how excited I am to attend the NACE Annual Conference this year. Like all the other NACE events I’ve attended over the last 15-plus years, it’s an opportunity to meet some extraordinary people, virtually all of whom share a passion for our profession. For a people-person, this is like the holy grail of networking opportunities, and I fully intend to “leave it all on the field” while I’m there. And since there are few things that I like better than helping other NACE members, I thought I’d give you a few tips on some people to look out for once you arrive in Chicago. Please note that this list could go on and on – there will be hundreds of people to meet and interact with – but I’ll keep the list to a mentally manageable length of seven to get you started. And so without further ado (and in no particular order), here are a few “must-meet” personalities for your reading pleasure:

Manny ContomanolisManny Contomanolis: Director of Career Services and Cooperative Education at RIT and a past president of NACE. You want NACE history? Institutional knowledge? Best practices? Manny’s been around the block a few times and knows more about Career Services than just about anyone I know. Oh, and in case that makes him sound “seasoned”, offer to buy him a cocktail (Gin and Tonic will do nicely) and ask him about men’s fashion. Or fitness. Or Greek history. Suffice it to say that Manny makes the “Most Interesting Man in the World” sound like an insurance salesman. You’re welcome.

Kathleen PowellKathleen Powell: NACE President-Elect and Executive Director of Career Development at William & Mary. Talk about a visionary! Kathleen’s done it all … and has just gone through the process of establishing NACE’s strategic committees for the upcoming fiscal year. She’s an ideal person to tell you all about getting involved with our great organization, and equally equipped to talk about life on the water (her other love). On top of all that, she’s got a sense of humor that’s engaging and a wit that’s as dry as Manny’s gin (see bullet one). You won’t want to miss the opportunity to get to know this special lady before her whirlwind NACE presidency term starts on July 1!

ongDave Ong: Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting at Maximus and NACE VP-Employer. If networking were a sport, Dave would have a spot on the All World team; I’ve never met anyone who has created and maintained so many real connections with people all over the world. Dave has a true passion for helping people, as is evidenced by his track record mentoring dozens of recruiting professionals through NACE over the years. My advice: talk to Dave about building relationships—he’s the best in the business. Then talk to him about his definition of “fast food” in Jerusalem—I promise you it’s a great story.

board-christiangarciaChristian Garcia: Associate Dean and Executive Director at University of Miami and NACE Director—College. If you thought you needed to be long in the tooth to be a force in this profession, then you haven’t met Christian Garcia. An innovator who thinks outside the box, Christian is a prime example of how to get great things done, all while having some fun along the way. Ask him about his path to the NACE board and the innovative things he’s done at Miami (Hire a Cane!). And if you don’t believe me about the fun, be sure ask him to show you his socks; they will most definitely be on fleek (and I actually know what that means now!).

ed-kocEd Koc: NACE Director of Research, Public Policy and Legislative Affairs. Big fan of big data? Like to understand what’s happening in Washington, D.C. besides the partisan bickering? Not sure where to start when thinking about a new school strategy? If any of these things are on your mind, then Ed should be on your dance card; there are few people who know more about research and public policy in the university/recruitment space than he does. Just bring him a decaf coffee (trust me) and let the conversation fly!

Shawn VanDerzielShawn VanDerziel: Chief Human Resources Officer at The Field Museum and a past NACE president. In addition to a nice guy who is probably one of the best active listeners I’ve ever met, Shawn will also be our host for the 60th Anniversary Gala at the Chicago Field Museum on June 9th. If you see him, ask him about how to maximize your time at the conference, as well as your time in Chicago….and then get to the Gala where you can see Shawn in his natural habitat!

dawn carterDawn Carter: Director, Early Careers at Intuit and current NACE President. I saved this sassy and classy lady for last … and for good reason. Dawn is always where the buck stops, whether it’s on tough issues in the profession, big decisions on the Board, or leading the way for younger professionals. Dawn will be running around like a crazed person at the conference, but be sure to stop her and ask her about her love for NACE and how she thinks the profession is evolving. Then tell her a joke … if it’s a good one, you’ll be treated to the timeless Dawn chuckle, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!

Now that I’ve given you a head start, why stop there??? Start mapping out your strategy now, and by the time you arrive at that conference you’ll be primed and ready to unlock the limitless possibilities of the great NACE network. See you in Chicago!

Dan BlackEditor’s Note: There’s one more person you should introduce yourself to while in Chicago—and that’s Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting at EY and a former NACE president. His picture is next to “extrovert” in the dictionary. He’s well known for his wit and easy laugh, and his absolute devotion to NACE. He’s a must-add to your must-meet list.

Here’s How to Prepare for #NACE16

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman

 

Hello, NACE blogosphere friends. It’s me, the prodigal blogger. It has been a roller coaster of a year in my shop, so I have not had a chance to post anything new and exciting to the blog recently. And for that, I am sure you are most grateful. But with another fabulous NACE Annual Conference on the horizon, I have come out of semi-retirement to offer some tips on making the most of this year’s conference. Of course, you can revisit my past blog post about people you should meet at a NACE gathering. It’s always a fun, diverting read.

What do I recommend you do in preparation for the conference? Here are my top five suggestions in no strategic order:

  1. Pack for anything and everything: Of course, this IS a professional conference, so you will need to present as polished and ready to work. But it is also a social event, so bring your party outfit or whatever you need to paint the town red. And because you will want to continue your fitness regimen, bring your best walking shoes or workout clothes. We will be in Chicago, but it will be June, so you make the call on a swimsuit. For a big twist, there is the splashy and flashy 60th Anniversary Gala, where cocktail attire is required. Please now refer to Google or Wikipedia for a good definition and examples of cocktail attire.
  2. Target your must-see programs: You have probably realized that a list of conference programs has already hit the interwebs. Review that list with care and try to prioritize which sessions are your “must haves” and “have nots.” That way, you can mark them down ahead of time, strategize how to get to most of them within the three-day program, and actually get a seat in the room. Yes, arrive early and scope out your spot. The rooms fill up fast.
  3. Make contact before the trip: Many of you use the NACE Annual Conference not only to educate, inform, and enrich yourself, but also to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts. Don’t wait until June 7th to arrange your meetings, get-togethers, coffee chats, and breakfast catch-ups. You might find that everyone else’s calendars are booked solid. If there are people you definitely want to speak to live and in person, shoot them an e-mail now and get them to mark you down on their calendar. You’ll find a list of attendees under MyNACE > Events.
  4. Study the tech: If you are looking to discover what the latest and greatest resources, apps, and technology tools are for our biz, the conference Exhibit Hall is an awesome and mind-blowing venue. There is A LOT to take in, and it can sometimes feel so overwhelming, you just sort of float in and out of the room, never knowing at which booth to stop or to whom to pose a question. Do some homework ahead of time if you might be shopping for information or products and research the vendors to target and narrow down accordingly.
  5. Be ready to record and share: Whether you are cutting edge and have your handy iPad, laptop, or mobile device, or you prefer the old school approach of a pen and pad of paper, be ready to take notes. You will hear so many good ideas, nuggets of information, websites for future reference, and names of people to hunt down later on LinkedIn. And of course, your staff and colleagues left behind to hold down the fort will want a recap and for you to share with them all your pearls of wisdom gained. Make the report–out easy by doing the work up front at the conference. It would be challenging to bring back a deep dish pizza slice for everyone, but you can bring back a great number of takeaways nonetheless.

How to Crush #NACE16 Social Media

Shannon Kelly ConklinShannon Conklin, Associate Director of Assessment and Technology, Temple University Career Center
Twitter: @shannonkconklin
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonkconklinkevin grubb

Kevin Grubb, Associate Director, Digital Media & Assessment at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb

Seven days. That’s how many days until it’s officially “go time” in Chicago for the NACE 2016 Conference and Expo. Are you ready?!

We’re putting together some finishing touches to the planned parts of our itineraries, and, as we think about how to soak up the most from the conference, we’re thinking about social media. In all of our combined years as members of NACE and conference-goers, social media has been a driving force in our experiences. Why? Because it’s powered by us—all of us. So, as we prep, we wanted to pass along this…

Our list of 10 ways to crush social media at #NACE16:

  • Always, always include the #hashtag

Planning to post on social media to engage with the NACE 2016 conference? On the fence? Well, if there’s one thing you do, make sure you include #NACE16 in any of your conference-related social media posts. This is your key to the limitless possibilities in Chicago. No matter when or where you tweet, share (Facebook), or snap a photo (Instagram), always tag your post with #NACE16 to elevate your experience as well as that of others. You can easily connect with these platforms on the NACE app! (Get tips on how to use the app, 3 – 4 p.m., Tuesday at NACE Connect.)

Did you know NACE is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year? At the 60th Anniversary Gala, you can use the hashtag #NACE60 on your posts. (We can’t help but think of Sally O’Malley from Saturday Night Live here – shhheeeeeeee’s 60! 60 years old.)

Pro tip: If you use a social media dashboard app like HootSuite, create a stream dedicated to #nace16 to organize all of the posts about the conference.

  • Know your platforms now and always

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, oh my! NACE has us covered on all the key social media platforms in Chicago. Whether you prefer visuals or text, you have options to follow all the action and contribute to the conversation on your platform of choice. Here are the NACE accounts to follow (if you’re not already), that will be documenting all the action:

Remember, the conversation starts now and continues after the conference. Log on today so you’re up-to-date on tips for the conference and other NACE news, and hit the conference floor running when you arrive in Chicago.

  • Tagging is a sure-fire path to engagement

Want to thank a presenter for a great workshop? Missed a session? Have a question after visiting the Expo Hall? Tagging individuals on social while asking your question or making your comment is the solution. The power to spark a new conversation or form an otherwise missed connection can all be accomplished by tagging an individual’s or organization’s social media account.

Pro tip: Use the conference app to research attendees, presenters, and keynote speakers to make sure you use the correct social media handle when tagging.

  • Use social media to learn and share your learning

In a session and have an “aha!” moment? Tweet it. In a between-sessions chat with a colleague and picked up a new idea? Post it. See a slide that sums up the challenges you’ve been facing at work? Snap a pic, tag the presenter, and put it out to your network. When you share the knowledge you learn at the conference, you’ll not only add value to your network, you’ll also create a timeline of learning you can access later. Win-win.

Pro tip: When you share something you’ve learned, leave some space to explain your view or why you think it’s important. Help your audience realize your expertise, too.

  • Use social media for fun (and show off Chicago!)

Throughout the conference, keep the social in social media. Your posts can be nuggets of knowledge via text, but also add creative captions and pictures. Your posts should not be limited to just the sessions either. Share the moments in between sessions, capture your experience at the expo hall, and, let’s not forget, the amazing city of Chicago! As you explore the city with new friends and colleagues, showcase the fun you’re having and the sites you discover. All of these elements tell the story of #NACE16.

  • Stay charged on the go

We’ve all been there: you’re tweeting, tagging, taking notes, and the dreaded “20%” warning pops up on your screen. Fear not, NACE has you covered with the NACEConnect Recharging Lounge and TECHbar. Amidst all the conference action, this is your go-to spot to recharge your mobile device AND you. Get your devices prepped for the next round of knowledge, and maybe even make a few connections while you wait.

Pro tip: Use this space to network and compare notes with other attendees who are also refueling. Some of the best takeaways and connections at the NACE annual conference can be made during these in-between sessions moments.

Extra pro tip: Get yourself a mobile charging unit for your devices so you can charge anywhere, anytime!

  • Post before the conference to track & reach your goals

What are you hoping to learn at #NACE16? Whom are you excited to meet or learn from? Set and establish those goals, then consider using social media to ask your network to help you meet them. Colleagues may be able to point you to a great session, the NACE staff may be able to point you to existing resources for some background reading, and those people you want to meet may get right back to you to set up a time for coffee. Put your thoughts out there so the universe can answer.

  • And maximize social media after the conference to your knowledge

You probably already know it (but, just in case, here’s a study from Harvard to prove it); reflecting on your experiences helps you maximize your learning. Take the same approach with the NACE conference this year using social media. After the conference concludes, Storify your posts or write a blog post about your experience. You may find you can make new meaning of things when you take a larger look all you picked up from your time with NACE.

            Pro tip: Write a blog post for NACE about your conference experience. It will help you reflect and could invite great conversation from more folks about, generating new ideas and new relationships. (Send your blog to Claudia Allen.)

  • Get involved in the “New to Your Network” challenge

At the conference this year, NACE is hosting a “New to Your Network” challenge, where they’re asking you to take a photo with someone new to your network. Then, post that photo to social media using #NACE16 (don’t forget to tag each other) and your photo will be entered into the NACE conference Storify. We’ve both met fantastic people at the NACE conferences over the years, so we expect to see lots of these photos in our feeds!

  • Take our “why I love the profession” challenge

And if that’s not enough, we have a special challenge for you! We’ve known each other for years, and our friendship started in the profession (via Twitter – isn’t that fitting?). We love this field for many reasons, one of which is all of the incredible people we’ve come to know over the years. So, as NACE celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, let’s show some love for our work.

            Our challenge to you: Use one post on social media to tell us why you love the profession. Make sure to use #NACE16 and mention one or both of us (here’s Kevin on Twitter, Shannon on Twitter, Kevin on Instagram, and Shannon on Instagram). We’ll be sharing your posts and your reasons could make it into the official Storify for the conference! If you’re not going to the conference—or if you’re just feeling the love right now—you can even comment right here on the blog and let us know. We’d love to see the love everywhere.

Now you’re ready to crush social media at #NACE16. We can’t wait to see you online and at the conference in Chicago!

Kevin Grubb is Associate Director at the Villanova University Career Center. Shannon Conklin is Associate Director at the Temple University Career Center. They are two of the authors of the Career Counselor’s Guide to Social Media in the Job Search.

Kevin and Shannon will be presenting a session, “We’re All Technologists: Successfully Realizing the Power of Your Team’s New Technology,” at the 2016 NACE Conference and would love to see you there! Their session is Wednesday, 3 – 4 p.m., Salon A5.

 

 

Etiquette Is Professionalism at Its Best!

Kathleen Powell

Kathleen Powell, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs, Executive Director of Career Development, Cohen Career Center, William & Mary
President-Elect, National Association of Colleges and Employers
Twitter: @powellka
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kathleenipowell/

Remember when you witnessed students, colleagues, and co-workers on their phones and perhaps thought, “Why are they checking Facebook or texting?” Well, the fact of the matter is, they could have been checking the time, tweeting something you said that was profound or thought provoking, or uploading a PowerPoint deck slide to LinkedIn or Twitter. With technology comes a new world to navigate and etiquette requires a new way of thinking and working with others.

How did we ever get along without e-mail, texting, chats, and messaging? Do you find yourself inundated with e-mails and voice messages? Last year at the 2015 NACE conference, Lindsey Pollak shared that XX Company did away with voice mails and others would be following suit. For those who are aligned with companies/organizations where voice mail is a thing of the past, it is one less distraction. However, there are still organizations, mine included, that have voice mail. So, what is the protocol for replies?

Must we answer every e-mail that comes to our inbox, must we return every call? It seems if those seeking our attention don’t get our consideration via voice mail, they share on their message they’ve sent us an e-mail, just in case we need or want more information and want to respond through e-mail versus a return call.

The question still stands, “do we need to reply to every e-mail and voice mail?” Professional courtesy and etiquette dictates that we do! Between you and me, I try to respond to every ping, but some days I’m outmatched by my inbox! That said, I find great joy in unsolicited mass e-mails where I can choose to reply if the message is of interest, or use the ever so efficient, delete key.

The best way to handle unsolicited, mass e-mails is to find the link to unsubscribe. Sometimes I wonder how I got on some e-mail distribution lists in the first place! Please don’t be annoyed, rude, or indifferent. Either unsubscribe, ask to be removed from the list, or delete. Don’t unsubscribe by hitting “reply all.” Reply if you’re interested, but otherwise, unsolicited, mass e-mails from those unknown to you don’t mandate a response.

I’m going to switch gears to an arena that doesn’t get much attention. Deadlines, meetings, and the way we speak and treat our co-workers! I’m a strong believer in professional courtesy—etiquette. You know you are expecting a report, data set, something that is required for you to move. If you’ve promise to deliver on a deadline, respect that deadline. If you find yourself up to your eye balls in alligators, step up and ask if there is space and place for an extension as courteously and professionally as humanly possible. Being human is hard, but I’ve found we may be hard on the outside, but soft in the middle. We all want a win and success is achieved when we work together to solve for the greater good. Meeting deadlines and fulfilling promised obligations goes a long way.

Meetings! Do you find your work world is a series of meetings? You move from one to another, and let’s not forget about conference calls! If you give your word and commit to a meeting or conference call, keep that commitment. Good etiquette—professionalism—aligns with dependable and punctual. In this day and age, many of us are oversubscribed, double-booked, and rarely have time to come up for air. It’s not a contest to see who is busier, has more meetings, or who is more important. If possible, control your time and commitments. Remember, others may be counting on you and you can’t be all in if you’re physically in one place, but mentally in another.

I mentioned conference calls. Don’t be the person who puts their phone on mute and is never heard from again! Or the person who is typing, and yes, talking on their cell phone thinking they are on mute when in fact, we’ve all just heard what you think about the call itself! Research tells us we can’t multi-task. We think we can, but are brains are not wired that way. Your multi-pronged attention will be at the expense of something!

Have you had a colleague, co-worker, or supervisor who uses words as weapons? Don’t be that individual. Speak to others as you would expect others to speak to you. Being human is hard and emotions can and sometimes do run deep. Once words are out, they can’t be taken back. Come to a place where facts, and maybe figures, drive a debate, heated conversation. Perhaps, “I believe” is heard over “I feel.” Feelings can be hurt, words can hurt, but beliefs change, opinions can expand and retract. For some, apologizing is a sign of weakness, for others it is a “tool” to move on to the next item of business; no harm, no foul. We’ve all heard the saying, “people may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” I may not always get it right, but in my humble opinion, the sign of professionalism is acknowledging our own shortcomings, accepting responsibility when things don’t go well that were in our control, and the courage and steadfastness to make amends.

In essence, professionalism—etiquette—is how you engage and treat others. Those who exemplify strong etiquette treat everyone as valuable, contributing members to their organization, treat everyone’s time as valuable as theirs, are tolerant of being human, and are considerate and kind when it comes to people’s feelings.

For me, at the end of the day, acting with professional etiquette, integrity, means bringing my best self to the table.

Calling for a Return to Relationships

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

When I was first introduced to the world of student services as an educational psychology student, what intrigued me was the coaching aspect. I was taught that the key to successful coaching was to recognize your student as resourceful and whole, and to “meet them where they are.” That phrase, a decade and a half later, still floats into my brain when I talk with a client.

It takes a good deal of curiosity to really find out where a student is in her path of life and where she wants that journey to lead. Probing questions are called for, along with the ability to offer real encouragement and very often a sense of humor plus a sympathetic ear. In short, challenging a student to head toward his or her individual goals requires an authentic connection—an honest-to-goodness old fashioned relationship where you know the other person and where she’s been, where she is, and where she is going.

But I see this art of coaching frequently dwindling in career development departments. As colleges and parents focus on the ROI of the ever-increasing tuition payment, the focus has tipped, in my opinion, towards “checking the box” of offering services.

As we struggle to serve a large population, automating processes has become the norm. Resumes are dropped off by students, checked for typos by career services associates, and picked up the next morning again with rarely a discussion of what type of job the resume is trying to target or transferable skills a student might have left uncovered. Students are given access to a myriad of career assessment tests but may never have a conversation with an adviser about how results should be interpreted or how the results might affect their college experience. Pamphlets about the importance of job shadows, professional associations, networking—you name it—are developed and distributed without follow up to see if students understood the advice, are ready to get their feet wet, or have the support they need to make real progress.

In this stunted model, the responsibility is placed on the student to build their own career development program using the bits and pieces we provide. Have you ever heard of a baseball coach putting bats, gloves, and balls on the field and then sitting in the dugout? Our intentions are good and the resources are solid, but our efforts are in danger of falling flat in terms of providing support that actually moves a student toward career success.

I propose that the way to help a student is to know a student. Have all these resources and tools ready to use and share, but at the right moment—when your client is ready to take that particular step in her journey.

And, I should mention, only in a real relationship can you expect accountability from a student. In any other scenario, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope students are listening to the advice out there—on your department’s website, in the pamphlets, in your class visit—but they are more likely listening to whatever is streaming through their headphones. I have heard many career services professionals complain that students are unresponsive and lackadaisical. I am positive that those same students would be attentive and engaged if a relationship was in place with their career adviser.

Another thing to consider is the impact not having relationships with your students will have on employers. How would I identify which job opportunity or company I would recommend to a student without understanding his/her objectives and strengths? I would be failing my employers as a result of not knowing my students.
If I’m worth my salt as a career development professional, I want to be able to push a student toward progress—and progress is a highly subjective term. I need to be keenly aware of what progress would mean to the individual in front of me. There is no standard or bulk option. Does this stretch me thin? Heck yeah. Is it worth it? Heck yeah. Relationships are what make me love being a career development professional. Seeing my students transform into flourishing professionals is the best feeling in the world. And if I was busy checking the box, I would miss it.

Saying Yes to the Global Career Services Summit

Kelli Smith Director of University Career Services at the Fleish

Kelli K. Smith, Director of University Career Services, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, Binghamton University
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drkelliksmith
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kellikapustkasmith/

A few weeks ago I returned from the inaugural Global Career Services Summit held at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (U.K.). It was the brainchild of Bob Athwal, Director of Student Experience and Careers at the University of Leicester, and Tom Devlin, Executive Director of the University of California Berkeley Career Center.

The program was the first of its kind and included a group of 68 career professionals invited to participate and some select sponsors from eight countries. The primary focus of the summit was to share best practices, discuss accountability within our profession, examine the global work force of tomorrow, explore new career center models, and provide opportunities for cultural exchange among practitioners. Since it was, perhaps, the most beneficial professional development experience of my life thus far, I wanted to share a few reflections. I was struck most by the fact that we were all dealing with very similar issues. Yes, we have some different terminology. We use the terms “placement” or “career outcomes” where our U.K. friends use “employability.” But I left intrigued by how the challenges we face and the innovations we are attempting are quite comparable. For example, we all face the challenge of our institutions recruiting more and more international students, but our governments restricting their ability to work in our country. In fact, by percentage, our friends abroad face this challenge even more than we do in the United States.

Secondly, we are all acutely aware of federal—and in many cases more so state—pressure on institutions for positive career outcomes. At the same time, our Take the National Student Survey Todaycolleagues in the United Kingdom are dealing with the “DHLE” (Destination of Leavers). We now have NACE standards providing our institutions much needed structure to create an “apples to apples” comparison for parents (as noted in this recent article by Billie Streufert), they have the National Student Survey which was prominently promoted all over the University of Leicester student union area, including large promotions along their walkways.

There are striking similarities in how we are challenged with a barrage of reports about the skills gap our college graduates have. As we know here in the U.S., a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) task force comprised of representatives from both the higher education and corporate world developed a definition and identified seven competencies associated with career readiness for the new college graduate in 2015.

After being inspired to research a bit more what, for example, the U.K. is facing in this regard, I found an interesting blog from the London School of Economics and Political Science by Steven Ward. This helped me rethink the way I view this perceived gap and how we can add to the conversation in a different way. Without the conference, I would not have discovered this article and had my thinking challenged in that way.

The skills gap holds some new graduates back.It was also striking how we are sometimes responding in similar ways to external challenges. For example, during the tour of our host institution and career center at the University of Leicester, which has approximately 21 thousand students, we examined the efficiency of their appointment model and how they moved from hour-long appointments to 20 minute appointments with significant pre-work assigned to students in advance.

We needed to make similar changes at Binghamton University and moved to a structured amount of time for our walk-in appointments and to 30-minute individual appointments, allowing for us to grow our individual appointment number by 130 percent the following year with the same staffing. However, while we did have “pre-work” assigned to our practice interview appointment students, we have not done what Leicester has with our other appointments So, I plan for our department to examine that concept further.

And while we have dipped our toe into a program to assist in sophomore’s professional and leadership development skills, I liked seeing how Leicester partnered with an external vendor, The SmartyTrain, to create an innovative skills development program called “The Leicester Award.” I predict that we will, over time, see more career centers developing innovative ways to help students develop the key skills we know employers are seeking, rather than only educate students about what the skills are and how to best articulate their skills and strengths.

Marilyn Mackes leading a session

Marilyn Mackes leading a session

Naturally the networking and new friendships made with leaders in our field that I admire was, personally, my favorite part of the conference. It was also noted as being one of the best benefits for others; 66 percent of the participants stressed the importance of networking as being a primary conference benefit. It set the stage for professionals in our field from Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Italy, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. to engage in meaningful relationships, thus opening up opportunities and potential collaborations that may otherwise not occur.

One of my biggest professional takeaways was around an idea that Paul Blackmore from the University of Exeter brought up one night at dinner. We often do not realize how we can get stuck in a systems thinking mindset within our own countries. When we expose ourselves to others outside of our regular connections and cultures, our thinking is challenged and we may take different—and better—approaches to solving challenges that we might not have otherwise even considered. We begin to question our own stereotypes and traditional ways of thinking, as well as aspects of our own culture that were previously unexamined. It all sounds quite similar to what we say our students gain when they study abroad, right?

I also left with some questions…

  • How much do economic conditions affect our profession’s current state of being and initiatives?
  • What would our experience have been with a mix of different countries? It was a great start, but we all agreed there were other countries that would be helpful in the future.
  • How can we continue the momentum and build partnerships with similar institutions as ours around the globe in order to better our service to students and employers?

I arrived home before heading to NASPA with a feeling of being so grateful for the initial invitation to participate. There was never any hesitation on my part since I have never been in a position to travel to Europe and have dreamed of going for years. Plus, the list of attendees was too great to miss. When I received the invitation I knew it would mean being out of the office for nearly three consecutive weeks in March for work and family reasons, plus it would mean flying my in-laws in to assist with our children since my partner would be traveling at the same time.

Reunion of former Indiana University colleagues

Reunion of former Indiana University colleagues

I would be remiss to not add how thankful I also am that Tim Luzader and Marianna Savoca, colleagues from our days at Indiana University, reached to out see if I would like to travel with them a couple days early to see London. Traveling with them was most certainly a highlight I will always treasure, too. The entire experience was, most certainly, one of the best professional experiences I have ever had. Saying “yes” to this invitation was a decision I’ll never regret, and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity and those that made the summit happen.

 

What Is Professionalism?

Ross WadeRoss Wade, Director of Career Development, Elon University’s Student Professional Development Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

I was recently asked to present to Elon University students participating in the Executive Internship program (an internship for Elon undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in higher education). I agreed without a second thought, assuming talking about professionalism would be a breeze. Turns out it’s not. I struggled to put this presentation together. What is professionalism? What is a professional? How did I become a professional? Workspaces can include professionals from four different generations—does each generation define professionalism differently? How does race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, etc. tie into professionalism? Yep…I fell right down that rabbit hole.

I decided to start with reflecting on my own “professional evolution.” What have I learned over the past 20 years? How did I learn it? Where? My foundational experience, regarding professionalism, was as an intern for a documentary production company. I was unpaid, worked 60+ hours a week, was challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone everyday, and I LOVED it. Through this experience, and over the next few years, I created (though at the time unconsciously) a set of rules for professionalism for myself:

  1. Be kind
  2. Never come with problems, only come with solutions
  3. Always work hard
  4. Think before you react
  5. Before asking others, try to figure it out on your own
  6. Think smarter not harder
  7. Recognize feedback, in all the ways it comes to you, and use it to your advantage
  8. Be authentic

These rules have always worked for me, but I wondered what others have learned over their careers. So I asked my contacts on LinkedIn, and received over 100 comments in less than 48 hours. Below is a list of the top five:

  • Be on time
  • Be curious, a life-long learner
  • Be honest, and do what you say you are going to do…have integrity
  • Treat others with respect, patience, and kindness
  • Be authentic

Next, I did some research on generational differences in the workplace (Lindsey Baker’s dissertation on intergenerational knowledge transfer has some great information). I discovered that professionalism is comprised of three key principles: motivation, work ethic, and communication—each generation bringing their own versions of these principles to the workplace.

In a nutshell, there are some differences that can lead to conflicts when it comes to “professionalism.” For example, a Generation X worker is more likely to be intrinsically motivated, whereas a Baby Boomer worker is more likely to be externally motivated (promotions, awards).

What about work ethic? A Millennial worker may feel their contribution to their employer is not based on time spent in the office, whereas a Baby Boomer worker may think a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday reflects a strong work ethic and professionalism.

Communication? A Generation X worker may be more inclined to using text or e-mail to communicate, whereas a Baby Boomer worker may prefer face-to-face discussions and formal meetings.

All this said, employers and employees find great value in working in multigenerational workplaces. Why? Because we can all learn a lot from each other. As a Gen X supervisor, managing a handful of Millennial staffers, it is important for me to remember they may be more extrinsically motivated—so knowing the raise and promotion structure as well as opportunities for professional development is very important to them. This helps me motivate them to do their best work.

Bottom line? Everyone is different, so the quickest and best way to find out is to ask. This information can be gleaned during job interviews or when a worker is newly hired and meeting colleagues and leadership. Asking these types of questions will not only reflect empathy and conscientiousness, but also professionalism.