Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

This one’s for college students about to enter the workplace.

I recently sat on a panel at Rochester Institute of Technology for career-bound students who are near or upon graduation, most achieving their graduate degrees. It was a great experience with a bright, engaged, and ambitious audience who were interested in learning more about how to be successful in the working world. What struck me was how much they appreciated my sharing tidbits of business protocol that may not have been picked up in their studies.

I thought I’d share just three tidbits that seemed to hit home with our audience of up-and-coming professionals.

If you’re going to pick somebody’s brain, pick up the check. Requesting informational interviews or meetings with seasoned professionals or more experienced young professionals is both acceptable and recommended as you’re exploring your career path. Most people are quite willing to meet and offer what they can. All you need to do is ask. If you invite someone for coffee, breakfast, or lunch, be prepared to pay the bill. In fact, you should swiftly insist on it as a fair exchange for the gift of their time and expertise. If you’re short on funds, you can avoid invitations for a meal and meet for coffee somewhere reasonable.

When you first meet someone, look the person in the eye and offer a full and firm handshake. This simple and confident gesture will reflect your confidence and validate your intent to have an equally rich and collaborative exchange. This is also true when you’re in the workplace and being introduced to managers, co-workers, clients and/or colleagues for the first time. If you’re meeting by phone, give some thought to your greeting or opening sentence so that it best reflects your authenticity and confidence.

Although it’s important to respect and learn from the experience of seasoned colleagues, you should feel confident that now, more than ever before, young professionals have a great deal to offer their mentors, in return. Although many seasoned professionals are highly tech-savvy, your fresh eye joined with your likely comfort and experience utilizing current technology and social media can generate creativity and learning opportunities for many. As long as you remain respectful and sensitive to the contributions of others, this can be a great asset and may provide an immediate opportunity for you to contribute.

Every success to you, our career-bound generation! Questions, or more tidbits to offer? Feel free to ask or offer here. Would love to have you.



  Sandra Nucelli wrote @

While reading the valuable tips in your article it triggered an observation about interviewing. In the past my department staff interviewed a number of “interns” looking for clinical mental health experience. There initial contact was with me as frontdesk staff. The professional staff always asked my opinion after the department interview about the applicants affect, demeanor and attitude toward me. My feedback was important to their decision because no matter how qualified or engaging candidates are during the interview, interaction with support staff says alot about their potential as a team player.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Sandra, great feedback for anyone who is entering a workplace as a candidate, and something important to consider. Thank you!

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