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Top 5 Tips To Implement Your Personal Brand

By Valia Glytsis

December 11, 2017

Thanks to those of you who joined us on our webinar about defining a personal brand (didn’t see it? Watch on demand!). While discussing branding is fun and energizing, putting into practice is critical for lasting momentum and success.

Below are some practical tips and mindset-based insights to help you stay on course as you navigate “what’s next” and continue to define who you are from the inside-out!

#1. Be the Boss of Your Thoughts.

Mindset is the glue that holds our personal brand together. The top invader of owning our brand is our mental chatter. This mental chatter shows up as imposter syndrome, playing small, feeling insecure, suffering from low confidence. Here are a few tips to tackle this inner critic when it decides to pop up and say ‘hello’ (by the way, it usually surfaces when you are courageous enough to take up more space and be BIGGER):

Name It.
This voice is completely normal and part of our human experience. It never goes away. However, you can objectify it and recognize that it is simply a piece of your thoughts, not an all-encompassing sense of self. Give it a name and a separate identity so you can remind yourself it is “other”.

Unravel It.
This voice gets scary when it takes a life of its own and begins to catastrophize our thoughts and feelings. It can only take hold of you if you buy into its narrative. Instead, allow it to unravel. Keep asking it: “And then what happens?” See how your worst nightmare eventually runs out of steam if you let it unwind. It can only go up from there when you realize that the worst case is actually kind of OK.

Ritualize It.
This voice can bleed into all aspects of your life if you allow it. Rather than have it consume you, give it its own ritual. During this time, journal about the voice, share what it is telling you out loud, read to it, and so on. By honoring it with ritual, you’ll realize that you can actually nurture it like you would do to a younger version of yourself (which is exactly what this voice represents – it’s here to keep you safe and secure!)

#2. Know What Your Stand For.

Our personal values are the fundamental point of differentiation in our brand. Even if you and I share similar strengths and passion, what is most meaningful to us and how we make our decisions is at the core of our inner truth. Revisit the branding webinar for more details on doing a personal values exercise – this work is paramount. Write out your personal values that are most prevalent right now.

WARNING: This work normally elicits thinking well into the future for “aspirational” values rather than “practiced” values. Aspirational values do not exist in our current reality and if we continue to strive for them in the day-to-day, we feel as if we are failing. Instead, be honest about your practiced values that are alive and honored in your current life chapter.

For example, give yourself permission to stand for “Excellence” rather than “Balance” right now. It is OK. In fact, it is truth and will allow you to make empowered choices and meaningful connections.

#3. Get Clear On What You Want.

All too often, I see women getting very vague and wishy-washy when asked what they want. This is detrimental to a brand. We think we are being “easy” by allowing more options and flexibility while, in fact, we are making it extra difficult for our audience to support us or open possibilities. Get very clear on what you want. And remember, this doesn’t mean you have to know what you want for the rest of your life. The magic words are: “for right now”.

What do you want for right now in your personal and professional path? For example, rather than saying: “I want a job in consulting”, you can specify, “I want a job in X company with a focus on digital strategy; I prefer a start-up environment where I can leverage my entrepreneurial skills. Working in San Francisco would be ideal.” The former tells me nothing about a personal brand; the latter tells me quite a bit.

Even if it feels unnatural, allow yourself to be targeted, specific, and clear on what you are asking for. You make yourself visible and allow others to be partners on the path.

#4. Ask Assertively and Own Your Space.

Nothing is more tragic than having a compelling brand (content-wise) and then shrinking completely when declaring your brand to the world! The magic tool here is assertion. There is a misconception that “assertive” is half way between passive and aggressive. In fact, assertive is nowhere on that continuum. Assertive is all about clarity. When you are clear, you speak succinctly with power and gravitas. A few pointers to clear up your verbal and written brand communication pronto:

Clear the Verbal Clutter.
That means no more filler words or hedging words like “just”, “kind of”, “maybe”. These words and phrases diminish your impact.

Stop Apologizing.
That means no more qualifying phrases to apologize for your opinion or the space you are taking. “Sorry to bother you but…” – sound familiar?

Punctuate and Pause.
That means take your space! Watch any tendencies to rush, pile questions, end a bold statement with up-talk, etc. If you believe that you deserve your space, your personal brand will shine. If you don’t give it its space, it will shrink in kind.

#5. Connect with Why.

Move beyond “what” you want to do and into “why” you want to do it. When we infuse our brand, our values, our choices with the power of why, we compel people with emotion, not just logic. Connecting with “why” allows for human vulnerability to be the glue between the rational objectives and professional goals we outline. “Why” engages people’s hearts, including your own.

If you have a hard time connecting with your personal mission and purpose, try thinking of it this way: A purpose is nothing more than where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger. Keep connecting to what matters to you and where you find meaning. The puzzle pieces of your brand will then be brilliantly obvious to you when you spot them! Your work is to stay true to the uniquely distinctive you.

 

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Scheduling Spring Classes and Career Connections

By Aury Cifuentes

November 9, 2017

Whether you are in your first year or are a seasoned senior ready to register for the last semester of undergrad, it is always wise to craft a path of your own within your course of study. While a majority of schools have a suggested track for each respective major there is usually some wiggle room in terms of electives and other requirements.

The first step to a successful scheduling season is checking in with an advisor or trusted professor when possible. Chatting about your dreams and aspirations with members of academia helps when they might already have suggested courses to try out based on previous students or perhaps an inside scoop on a new class being offered for the first time next semester.

This was the case at my school, as I like chatting with two or three professors before scheduling season to make sure I am making the best decisions with my courses and to get different feedback. For example, next semester a course being offered for the first time based on student demand is Venture Capital Management. While it unfortunately conflicts with my required Strategic Management class I definitely let my friends and organization members that the class will be offered for the first time next semester for anyone interested.

Scheduling might vary by school but whether you have a shopping period or a time to add or drop courses in the beginning of next semester, remember to use it to your advantage. Depending on whether you are more productive in the morning and afternoons some of the most successful students I know cater their schedule to their productivity strengths too. An example would be that a morning person could benefit from the semi-filled 8AM classes for their week freeing up their afternoon for extracurricular or leadership opportunities.

Additionally, there is benefit to making at least two or three what-if scenarios if certain classes you were interested in get full before your timeslot. Here is where you can use your freedom to cater those extra spots to classes you can use to your advantage in interviews and beyond. Taking a Java class even if you are not a computer science major can not only make you stand out but provide a new skillset if you were ever interested in design or website creation.

Another example, can be a non-technical class such as an art history course in which your knowledge of the arts can not only be a conversation starter but inspiring to de-stress in realizing how many themes that we consider modern have repeated themselves over various centuries visually.

Lastly, if you are ever in a situation in which you believe you are not going to fulfill your requirements to be on track for graduation, know that while the course might appear to have a cap online, sometimes certain professors are willing to make exceptions. In that case going to talk to them personally or a well-worded email can also be a way to ensure a successful next semester by obtaining your classes of choice. So remember to take a step back and see if the courses are fulfilling not only what is required but what you wanted to learn in college.

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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Preparing for December Graduation

By Mairead Tuttle

November 7, 2017

After the main discussion in my economics seminar had broken up, my classmates began to trade the names of courses for which they were planning to register during the spring semester. Some were delighted to find out they would be in the same course, while others lamented how far down the waitlist they were for a certain class. I, unfortunately, could not participate in this conversation. I am a college senior who is graduating in December.

At times, I have felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the senior class at my college. While some of my fellow seniors are completing theses that they will work on until May, I did not have the opportunity to do this. Other students have gotten to know professors well over the last couple of semesters and are now able to do independent study work with them that will continue into the spring semester. There is not an overall sense of finality among the senior class because the large majority of the class has many months of school left before graduation, but there is for me.

I feel quite lucky to be graduating from college one semester early. I would not have been able to do this without the encouragement of my family and my professors. There are many advantages to finishing my course work in December. I will be available to employers about five months earlier than my classmates. I also have the chance to make my job search a full-time position in and of itself, or do in-depth research about dozens of graduate school programs. 

However, these advantages do not exist without their own required effort. Graduating from college a semester early can feel like such an accomplishment that future plans fall to the wayside. It is important to be reminded (as I have often been by family members and classmates) that finishing course work in December does mean that I get the spring semester off; it means that my post-college life starts five months before everyone else’s. It is important to adequately prepare for this situation.

Having the extra time to apply to graduate schools makes no difference if your application cannot be complete. Make sure to take tests like the GRE or GMAT either before you begin your final semester of school or immediately after you finish to ensure that you are in the “test-taking mindset.” Also be sure to reach out to professors or mentors about letters of recommendation while you are still on campus. While your professors will (hopefully) likely still remember you during the spring semester, it can help to have an in-person conversation about your plans.

The fact that you will have more free time come January than the rest of your classmates does not mean that you should push your job search until that time. Some industries, like finance, will have already stopped hiring for the academic year once you are finished with your classes. You also have the opportunity to pursue full-time spring semester internships, or even part-time internships that you were unable to do previously because of their geographic location. Of course, these internships will also be hiring early in the fall semester and you should be aware of them. I have tried to split my job search time between entry-level jobs and spring semester internships and have found potentially rewarding positions in both categories.

I know that there are some traditions and senior year rituals that I will miss out on because I will not be with my fellow seniors during their final semester. To combat this, I have looked back on the traditions that I have created for myself during my three-and-a-half years at school and made a point to do them all one last time before the end of December.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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Your Midterm Survival Guide

By Nuriya Saifulina

October 19, 2017

Most schools are approaching the season of midterms, so we have compiled our best midterm survival tips for acing your exams and keeping your sanity in the process.

Switch up your study spots

Please leave that armchair you’ve been glued to for the past 2 days - your regular spot in the library is not going anywhere. Studying in the same spot not only makes you feel drained and burnt out but also decreases your information retention.

So get up, bring your work with you and find a new coffee shop or grad school library to work at. Or even better, get off campus for a while and explore the town public library.

Try to be healthy

As boring and condescending this may sound, try to sleep sometimes, eat a vegetable or two and drink plenty of water. It’s as simple as this: you cannot ace your exams on vending machine fare and library futon naps alone.

Take unconventional study breaks

Instead of binging The Office for the billionth time, maybe do something actually relaxing and fun for a change. Take a long walk through the park, visit campus health services’ therapy dogs or channel your Bob Ross with a coloring book. Trust us - you will feel refreshed and ready for another 1.5x speed lecture video in no time.

Remember personal hygiene

Please shower. Seriously. Even if you are feeling exhausted, rally to take care of yourself. It’ll give you a break and a boost of energy, not to mention make you feel like a human again.

Get the help you need

You don’t have to fight this battle alone - tap into your college’s resources, like office hours, or tutoring groups to survive the academic onslaught. You can also form a study group or ask a friend to explain the material to you.

So, don’t forget to study hard and take care of yourself too, so that you have enough energy left for final exams in the end of the semester.

Nuriya Saifulina is a rising sophomore at Harvard College who is concentrating in Economics and Psychology. In her spare time she writes for the college newspaper, volunteers with immigrant communities in Boston, and dabbles in costume design for the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club.

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Top 5 Tips to Stay Organized and be Productive this Year

By Megha Karthikeyan

September 21, 2017

Avoid stress and feeling overwhelmed—we’re here to help you stay on top of your fall semester.

Layout all your assignments and meetings in a calendar and check it regularly.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a system of organizing your life when you are in college. There are many different deadlines for papers and exams, along with club meetings, interviews, and spending time with your friends.

I recommend putting everything on a calendar (online or paper) or using the “Reminders” app on your phone. Make sure to do this for not only school assignments but for extracurricular activities as well. Many people will remind themselves to do homework but will forget to put that 6pm business club meeting on their calendar.

Showing up on time and being reliable is incredibly important, and you don’t want to miss something simply because you forgot. I find that having this method of organization makes me feel less stressed about the week because I know how to pace myself and can tell how much time I need to complete certain assignments.

Keep up with internship and interview deadlines.

In the finance world, the recruiting season is moving up every year and now applications are usually due by the end of September with interviews being in November. You must not only balance your new classes, moving into a new apartment, and starting up again on activities, but also the summer internship applications. This means you must keep track of all the deadlines.

I recommend creating an Excel or Google spreadsheet with a list of all the internships and programs you want to apply for along with their application timeline. This includes their application deadline along with when interviews are for the internship.

You’ll be able to prioritize which internships to apply to first and which ones can wait. Make sure to add this information to your calendar. Even if you have the spreadsheet, you want to make sure you remember to apply by adding it to your reminders.

Get ahead on assignments (especially readings) when possible.

Since most college professors give their full course syllabus at the beginning of the semester, you should try to get ahead on readings when you have free time. I try to read a class ahead during the weekends for my reading heavy classes, so I have more time during the week.

If I have a large chunk of time on the weekend, I will try to read two classes worth of readings in one sitting so that I am ahead and don’t have to rush the night before to get the reading done. This also helps in case an unexpected assignment or obligation comes up because then you have time to work on those assignments rather than keeping up with your readings.

If you have a paper due, make sure you start on the assignment early. This means going to your professor’s office hours in advance and not going when the paper is due because then you will be waiting in line with other students who also need their questions answered.

If you want to write a good quality paper, starting on it early and asking questions in the beginning stage is much better than waiting until the last minute to fix your paper.

Put away you phone while doing homework!

I know this is very hard to do. I find that even having my phone facedown next to me while doing work is distracting. Sometimes we want to give ourselves a study break and look at our phones, but a 5 minute break can turn into 45 minutes of mindless scrolling through our Instagram feeds.

I think the best option would be to put your phone in a place where you can’t easily reach it from where you are working. If it’s in a place where you must physically get up to get your phone, then you are less likely to break your concentration of doing homework to get it.

The reason it takes people such a long time to do work is because of how many times they look at their phones while completing the assignment. If you can maintain your focus on the task at hand and not look at your phone until you complete the task, you will get your work done much faster and won’t feel that you spent such a long time on that assignment.

Maximize the use of your time.

In college, classes are short compared to high school and students usually have gaps of time before their next class starts. I recommend using these gaps to do as much homework as possible.

Instead of watching Netflix or going back to your apartment to hang around, using that time to do readings, complete assignments or even apply to internships is a good use of your time. You no longer have to wait to get home to do your homework like in high school.

College gives you the flexibility to work on assignments on your own time so making use of any breaks you have to get ahead on assignments is very useful. This way, you don’t have a pile of homework waiting for you when you get back from your classes. It also frees up your evenings when you can attend club meetings and spend time with your friends.

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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Three Classes You Should Take Next Semester

By Danni Ondraskova

June 1, 2017

If you’re reading this website, it’s highly likely that you are an economics, business, management, or related major who often spends a lot of her time tackling her internship requirements, especially if you are at a major research university. Maybe you want to take a break from economics problem sets or exams. Maybe you avoid essays like the plague and find solace in the clear math you do.

Either way, you should consider taking classes in very different fields than the ones you are currently in, particularly given the large scale economic, political, and social shifts that are occurring in many Western countries today. Here’s a list of three courses you should consider taking next semester to enhance your understanding of the world.

Globalization/Nationalism

The recent elections of populist candidates in the United States and Europe shows that many people are having second thoughts about some of the darker undertones of globalization. This is a megatrend that is worthwhile for every citizen to understand and respond to in whichever manner he or she sees fit.

In many of these countries, nationalism has emerged as a response to the increasing economic interconnectedness of the world, which began in the 1980s. Your college may have a class on free trade, the history of particular nations, or, as mine does, an advanced anthropological course on the history of nationalism in the world.

If those classes aren’t an option, nearly every institution of higher education has a course on political or economic theory. Even a class in sociology can teach many things about how individuals behave very differently in groups than individually—and one of the skills you need in any management or business-related field is to understand how people behave in different situations.

The Media

The media has gained an unprecedented role throughout the world as the great equalizer for nations, individuals, community organizations, companies, and tragically even terrorist actors. The emergence of the Internet has enabled a larger portion of the human community to share their ideas with each other than at any period of human history.

Through online or cable advertisements, small businesses and companies also can reach millions of people through their advertisements and gain funding they could have never possibly dreamed of a century ago. YouTube, Kickstarter and other ventures are also helping any “little guy” with a compelling story and the ability to write gain financial or other support from friends, family, and kind strangers.

Whether you take a hands-on coding or multimedia course or just a class on the history of the Internet, you can learn to harness this technology in many personal and professional situations.

An Uncommon Language

The Department of State, U.S. intelligence community, and of course many businesses are constantly searching for candidates who are fluent in crucial languages with few American speakers like Urdu, Russian, Arabic, or Mandarin Chinese. These language also come with vibrant cultures that can in turn teach you more about American culture.

While many of you are likely taking languages to satisfy a distribution requirement, consider taking an uncommon language to be able to serve people who need a voice for them when interacting with Americans. Plus, having an uncommon language looks great on your resume and is always an excellent conversation starter for candidates talking to recruiters. 

Danni Ondraskova will graduate in 2018 from Wellesley College. Danni plans on earning a dual degree in law and business and dreams of working for JP Morgan’s Global Investment Management division.

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Start the Semester Off Right

By Sameera Polavarapu

April 17, 2017

The start of a semester is a time that many students take for granted. People often brush off responsibilities at the beginning of the semester because there are fewer assignments and grades hanging over their heads. However, the avalanche of work that may fill their schedules in the months following can be prevented if students are careful from the get-go. Here are my three tips to start the semester off right:

Understand Your Schedule Has Changed

A huge part of each semester is readjusting to a new set of classes, a new daily routine, and a new set of people that fill your days. The unfamiliarity of a new schedule can be overwhelming, but taking the time to patiently adjust to a new set of priorities goes a long way—simple as that! 

Plan Your Days Accordingly

A new schedule means a new time table! Take a look at the various syllabi for your classes and get a stronger feel for the amount of work each class may require. Based on each schedule, carve out times in your week that you can study or do reoccurring assignments for specific classes. Finally, to prevent tasks from piling up at the last minute, make checklists of assignments to complete each day. 

Know That Your Time is Valuable

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re going to do something, do it well. College is a time of finding your passions and bringing them to life. Do not join clubs because you feel like you have to, and leave activities that don’t fulfill you behind. It’s definitely easier said than done, but spending all of your time doing things that gratify you rather than merely wear you down will have endless payoff.

As you get further and further into the semester, it can be hard to keep up with the running cycle of homework and exams. However, by setting yourself up for success, you can take just a little more weight off your shoulders this year. 

Sameera Polavarapu will graduate in 2019 from the University of Maryland at College Park with a major in international business and marketing. Her dream job is to do marketing for a global organization such as the United Nations.

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Professional Email-Writing

By Siyu Wu

April 3, 2017

Many argue that a major gap in communication style between job-seeking millennials and typically more conservative recruiters has formed. In this age where email is typically the main form of communication, especially between firms and potential hires, email etiquette has become increasingly important. To bridge this gap, it is necessary for students to be aware of common pitfalls when it comes to writing emails to professionals at firms. To help overcome such pitfalls, here are six tips for writing the perfect email: 

Do your research

Yes, even for an email, you need to do your research! If it’ s a cold email to someone you’ve never emailed, make sure to check out the person’ s LinkedIn – knowing a bit about their background can help you craft a more personal email. If it’ s a follow up email to someone you’ve spoken with before, take time to refer back to your previous conversations – this can help connect the dots and strengthen the individual’s impression of you. 

Construct a strong subject line

The subject line is essentially a “first impression” in email-writing, making it one of the most important components of your email! It needs to be specific: a subject line that’s too long or too vague will be easily overlooked. The subject line also should be actionable: if possible, give the person some idea of what you’re requesting in the email. At the most fundamental level, ensure the subject line is correctly capitalized and spelled. A poorly written subject line is an easy reason for the recipient to delete the email without even opening it!

Be concise and to the point

Recruiters and other people at firms are very busy and often receive hundreds of emails a day. The chances that someone will read an essay-length email, then, is very unlikely. Follow-up emails typically should be 3-4 sentences while introduction emails can be a few sentences longer. Use these few sentences wisely – briefly introduce yourself (school, major, year), clearly state your connection to the person (if applicable), and explain what you are looking for. 

Soften your tone

Remember that you’ re asking someone else to take time out of their busy day to respond to your email, and be gracious with how you word your requests. Rather than using direct language or imperative statements, use phrases such as “I would greatly appreciate…”.

Double check and check again

You should proofread your email at least twice to ensure there are no grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, or poorly worded sentences. Even the smallest typo appears unprofessional – it suggests that you lack attention to detail, which is a characteristic many recruiters value when finding the ideal job candidate. 

Have a consistent email signature

Having an email signature may not seem like a big deal, but it is in fact an important source of contact information for the person receiving your email. Be sure to include: your full name, major, university, class year, email address, and phone number. Formatting should be simple and straightforward – bells and whistles not only seem unprofessional but also distract from the main message! 

For example:
Siyu Wu
Department of Economics Princeton University ‘18
Email Address
Phone Number

Though many of the above tips may seem obvious or overly simple, it is these small differences that set some job candidates apart from the crowd. Conveying a professional feel through both personal and email interactions leaves a lasting positive impression that can take you far as you begin your career.

Siyu Wu is from Colorado and attends Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Economics and certificates in Finance and East Asian Studies. Siyu will graduate in 2018. She hopes to synthesize her interest in China and East Asia with her passion for finance to eventually work in a career related to international finance and Asian capital markets.

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