Archive for Peppercomm
Today’s post originally ran on The Stand Up Executive on May 13, 2013.
Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian
As the series finale approaches for one of my favorite television shows—NBC’s The Office—I have done two things:
1) Watched lots of old episodes to gear up for the finale (oh, and went to The Office Wrap Party in Scranton)
2) Been thinking of lots of Michael Scott-isms
If you’re not familiar with the show, you should stop reading here and get out of the hole you’ve been living in . . . the show has been on for nine years. That’s like growing up in the 70s and never watching M*A*S*H.
Anyway, immersing myself in old episodes of The Office made me think of my favorite, real-life Michael Scott story—except this boss isn’t played by the loveable Steve Carell.
An old friend of mine works at a very buttoned up office. There are no Jims, or Dwights, or Michaels. No shenanigans, at least not in the way that you see it on the show.
One of his coworkers—we’ll call him Bob—was taking time off to go to Minnesota to visit his family. The office boss asks Bob why he is going to Minnesota. Bob’s response? “I’m going to support my brother who is competing in the Special Olympics.”
Bob’s boss’s response? “Oh, so your mom had two retarded kids.” (Cue: the boss thinking he said the most clever thing EVER and looks around to see how many sidesplitting laughs he has elicited from the rest of the employees.)
Sigh. No one laughed.
It’s pretty obvious how inappropriate Bob’s boss’s response was. In a culture like Peppercomm’s where people joke and make light of situations, this would never fly, never mind in a culture like Bob’s. Why? Because it really wasn’t funny and it was mean-spirited.
It’s OK to use humor to engage employees and help lighten the mood in a difficult situation, but one needs to know when to draw the line between funny, offensive and mean. If you’re questioning whether something may be offensive or not, you should err on the side of caution and just refrain from saying it.
Now a “that’s what she said” joke, not always appropriate, but always funny.
Today’s post is by Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.
I had that opportunity because I’ve been a member of the CofC’s Department of Communications Advisory Council for the past five years.
I must confess that, aside from my alma mater, Northeastern University, the College of Charleston is my extra special favorite place (that’s a riff on what the young Rep, Jr., used to call me).
During my visit, I participated in a speed networking event with 60 or so sophomores, juniors and seniors. As is the case with students I’ve met from other schools, yesterday’s group ran the gamut from the superbly poised and prepared to those who, shall we say, were somewhat lost at sea.
The best and brightest had it all:
- Relevant internships
- Significant pro bono/volunteer service
- A strong digital footprint
- A poised, professional manner
- The ability to listen and respond in the moment.
They also knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. One was combining her original interest in health care with her current passion for communications and intended to work within a large medical center after graduation. Another one had focused on internships in the fashion world and intended to combine that hands-on retail experience with her communications skills to work in the marketing group of a well-known department store.
And, then, there were the others. When I asked one senior how many interviews she’d lined up prior to graduating next month, she replied, “Oh, I’m much too busy studying for finals to worry about that. I’ll start looking after graduation.” Good luck with that.
Another admitted she had no real interest in communications at all and intended, instead, to pursue a completely different career. Oh. That immediately reminded me of a Millennial who recently interviewed at Peppercomm. When asked why she was interested in a career in PR, she responded, “Well, I’d really prefer to be a teacher.” End of interview.
Success in life is the end result of careful planning and hard work. Like their peers who are graduating from thousands of other schools this spring, some CofC students will become absolute rock stars. Others, though, will wake up in a few years’ time and realize they’ve let the world pass them by.
So, note to all college and university undergrads: the time to map your future isn’t after graduation. Focus on your passion now, land the internships that will build your credentials and network, network, network.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Knowing how unpredictable the future will be, it’s that much more important to put a plan in place this morning and begin implementing it this afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself waking up at one minute to midnight with few, if any, career options.
We’re always asked about the process for interviewing for internship and entry-level positions. Essentially, sometimes the process seems to be a bit longer than one would imagine because we’re looking for the best fit for the position and Peppercomm.
To get more of a glimpse into what is happening across the board in terms of hiring, check out this article in The New York Times: With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection.
Do you agree with the assessment?
Today’s post is by Peppercomm’s co-founder, Steve Cody, and originally ran on RepMan.
A just released Accountemps survey of 420 workers showed that nearly one-third said the greatest challenge when starting a new job was getting to know a new boss, co-workers and fitting into the culture. Learning new processes and procedures was also a big obstacle.
Even at my advanced age, I can relate to the abject fear of starting a new job and wondering how my boss and peers would take to me (and vice versa).
But, I was different from my peers. I was already a battle-tested veteran thanks to the tremendous competitive advantage my Northeastern University Co-Op experiences had provided. By the time I graduated, I’d not only worked in the newsrooms of The New York Times, WGCH Radio in Greenwich and CBS Newsradio in Boston, I’d also rubbed elbows with of some of journalism’s best and brightest (and meanest and nastiest).
So, when I interviewed at Hill & Knowlton as a newly-minted college grad, my real-world experience ran rings around my competitors from Yale, Harvard and Princeton (FYI, the H&K of those days was as white-shoed as a firm could possibly be. Biff’s and Buffy’s were absolutely everywhere).
And, trust me, I needed every bit of the N.U. Co-Op experience I’d absorbed up until then. Because, at the time I was hired (note: William Howard Taft had just been elected president), I was 12 years younger than the other account executives in my group! So, I not only had to score placements for such clients as Uniroyal and The American Trucking Association, I had to deal with very intense, frat house/Mad Men-type hazing from my older cohorts.
The men AND women teased me mercilessly. The men called me Gerber. The female executives called me The Kid. But, while others may have wilted under the pressure of what would undoubtedly qualify as a hostile workplace today, I thrived. Why? Because I’d already been yelled at, patronized and ignored by world weary, deadline-driven journalists.
And, that’s the point of today’s blog. Most of the interns we hire (and those that I see at other organizations) tend to run in packs. They I.M. one another all day long, chill together after work and share dating and helicopter parent stories throughout the day. What they do very, very little of, however, is networking with, and building bonds, with their workplace elders.
Which is why so many young people fear the prospects of fitting into a new workplace when they finally enter the real job market. Sure, they can rock social media. Sure, they know all about the hottest YouTube video. But, when it comes to dealing with older, more experienced workers on a peer-to-peer level, I’d say most are completely lost at sea.
And, that’s why colleges and universities (as well as we employers) need to better prepare students for the cultural/workplace dynamics they’ll be encountering. Most interns are hired, assigned accounts and then left to fend for themselves. They learn the ropes in media relations, press release writing and pleasing the client. But, what employer takes the time to explain internal politicking, reporting parameters, professional conduct, personal brand building and networking? Precious few.
The kid (that’s me) was ready for the slings and arrows of yesteryear’s workplace. But, Northeastern students aside, I’ve seen precious few Millennials who possess the natural skills necessary to leverage their youthful enthusiasm, overcome their fear of the workplace and use both as an advantage to foster strong relationships with their busy, distracted elders during an oh-so-brief, 90-day internship.
I invite my Millennial readers to weigh in, but doubt many will. I’ve found that most are either afraid to interact with ‘someone of my stature’ or simply unsure what is, and isn’t, appropriate to post on a business blog. Give them an iPhone and a BFF to text, though, and stand back.
We clearly need to build a better bridge between those two worlds.
We probably hooked you with that title, right?
Everyone wants to find THE best place to work. Well, Kristin, Lin and I were asked to give some tips on what to look for and how to get to that perfect company for New York Women in Communications’ NEXT Blog.
Check out the post for all of our tips.
Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their CV or employment application as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired position. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack necessary basic skills . . .
In short, a cover letter is the first thing you want your potential employer to see. So why are so few young people actually putting this into practice?
The amount of intern/entry-level applications we receive, which are almost solely via email, consists of a note that says: Blah blah blah “attached is my cover letter and resume”.
That note is the absolute first thing we see from an applicant, so why would you attach your cover letter, rather than using it the way it was intended? It may sound silly, but by having to open an attachment, it’s another step an employer has to take to find out about you. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to learn about you and your intentions with a company.
One surefire way to make yourself standout to an employer? Try not attaching your cover letter and actually putting it into your initial email. Among the sea of applicants employers receive, this simple adjustment could make a huge difference.
The end of the year is always a time full of cheer, cookies and tips for how to do x, y or z the best way. Well, we’ve found five great tips for you on how to rock your PR skills this season.
Full disclosure: one of our bosses wrote this article, so we’re biased, but don’t let that stop you form checking out Steve Cody’s “5 Tips for Rocking Your PR Around the Holidays” in Inc.
‘Tis the season for lots of cheer, fun, gifts and . . . company holiday parties. The latter is almost always fun, as long as you remember a few key points, the basis of that being to remember that despite how much alcohol is served, it is still a work function.
You can still have fun and let loose with your coworkers, but remember, what happens at the holiday party definitely stays in everyone’s memories throughout the year (or who knows, maybe even longer depending on the legacy you leave).
It’s never bad to carry yourself a bit more formally and remember that how you want to be perceived in your work life, is also how you should carry yourself at work events. But there are a few rules to remember. Check out The Wall Street Journal’s 23 Rules of the Office Holiday Party for a full (and funny) list of tips and tricks.