Today, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel about careers in communications at St. Charles Community College. It was fun!
It was put together by the SCC Speech and Communications Department, which includes Darren Osburn, associate professor, who I knew from our days together at Culver-Stockton College. The other panel organizers were: Curt Van Geison, professor and program coordinator of speech and communications, and Lee Ann Nelson, associate professor of speech and communications and internship coordinator.
On the panel, I was joined by Lisa Bedian, community relations director for the City of St. Peters, Mo; Mike Elam, account manager at KMOX radio; Heather McDorman, associate vice president for marketing & communications at St. Charles Community College; Tom Wheatley, sports journalist who most recently worked for St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
We spoke to two different groups of students, and we really appreciated their ability to listen, participate, and ask questions. I thought the students were much better behaved than the groups of CEOs that I’ve observed.
I wanted to share some of the career tips that were discussed (some specific to communications, some more broad):
- Learn to be a good writer – no matter what you do, you’ll need able to communicate well with others.
- Learn to be a good talker – a great letter can get you in the door, but you are also judged on the way you speak. If you sound stupid, people think you are stupid.
- Learn how to network – it’s who knows you that will make a difference in your career.
- Get involved in your community – this is a subpoint of networking, but how else are you going to get to know people? If you are doing good stuff for the world you live in, you’ll meet other successful people. And although you shouldn’t develop relationships for the wrong reasons, someday some of these people might be a position to help you.
- Find something you like to do and do it with excellence – (and I’d like to add: even if you don’t like what you’re doing, still do your best). Others respect people who work hard and always do quality work.
- Make sure your Myspace and Facebook pages have appropriate content – only put stuff out in the public that you wouldn’t mind anyone seeing, even your grandma or your worst enemy. Employers will see what the Internet says about you.
- Say thank you – everyone appreciates a grateful person.
I learned a lot from the other panelists, and I am glad to have made their acquaintances. I hope we provided value to the students, and that they will be very successful in whatever work they do. Thanks again to Darren for the opportunity.
A side note: Since this was public speaking, I took my own advice and practiced my intro about 9 times this morning. Although I didn’t use a word of it for the real thing, it did build my confidence and remove my nervousness.