Sunday, July 16, 2017

Black, Corporate and Greek: Part 1 (The Resume)

Membership in professional and social organizations can be a great way to network, scout out new career opportunities, and to actually make meaningful connections with other people within your industry and across industries. These organizations can be cause-related, general society groups or industry-specific. This post is the first of a series which specifically takes a look at Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) and Black Corporate culture. These are sororities and fraternities whose memberships consist primarily of college-educated Black people, mostly professionals and many Black Corporates.


My sorority is on my resume. When I was in grad school, my career adviser, a black woman, suggested that I remove it. I heard her explanation and considered her advice, but I decided that in my relationship-based profession, it was it more useful than harmful. The below describes some of the pros and cons of including a BGLO on a resume and best practices for including it.

Reasons to include your Greek Affiliation
  • Create a connection with your resume reviewer: If your reviewer has a positive association with BGLOs, the reviewer may view your resume more favorably or better remember your resume. The odds are more in your favor that this will be the case give the numbers of political leaders, scholars and artists who are members of BGLOs and the impact that many chapters have on their local communities.
  • Emphasize Community Service: Good corporate citizenship is en vogue. Companies want to hire good people who do good work. Community service signals selflessness, compassion and dedication to a cause.
  • Highlight Involvement and Leadership: Most companies want a team player who is willing to be involved and committed beyond business hours. By showing involvement and leadership outside of your academic and professional pursuits, you show a willingness to contribute. You signal to potential employers that you are more likely to join and even lead company committees and initiatives. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Making Friends At Cocktail Parties - Taking the "Work" out of "Networking"

Networking events are often awful experiences because people are there "working," not having fun and making new friends. You should be at these events to make friends, because in the long run we help out our friends, not strangers with business cards. Here are a few tips to make new friends at events:

Adversity creates the best bonding moments.

Overcoming even the most minor obstacles can create a "bonding moment" between you and a stranger:

1.  Running to catch the elevator
2.  Searching for the coatcheck
3.  Being the first few to arrive or last few to leave
4.  Arriving late and waiting out in the hall for the opportune moment to enter a room
5.  Waiting your turn to speak to a panelist after a discussion

These anxiety producing moments are great moments to make friends. A well placed joke or even a simple introduction and handshake can alleviate anxiety for you and your new friend. Especially when this moment happens early in the evening, you'll have someone in the room you "know" to follow up with later.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Getting "Paid" during an Unpaid Internship

Unpaid internships can be a great way to gain experience in a field that is hard to otherwise break into and to learn valuable skills for full-time, paid employment.  However, just because they don't pay you, doesn't mean they can play you.  There are both federal and, in many cases, local guidelines as to the responsibility of your employer in implementing an unpaid internship program.  In addition to legal requirements, there are some reasonable and practical criteria you should have for your unpaid internship.  You are not simply a source of free labor to be used for undesirable work.

What should you be getting paid:

Unpaid interns are not free replacements for full-time, paid employees.  As an intern, you should be receiving substantive training.  An unpaid internship is really supposed to be an educational experience for the intern.

You should be supervised in your work.  There should be someone available for questions and problem solving if any issues should arise.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

When keeping it real goes wrong: Lessons from Insecure's Rasheeda the Intern

Issa Rae and HBO have a new show featuring a set of accomplished Black Corporates.  They could certainly be added to our Watch Me Work post.

Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) is a 3rd year associate at a corporate law firm and doing well for herself. She is also one of the few Black attorneys we see at her job.

Enter Rasheeda the Intern (Gail Bean), a new Black law intern who comes through the door keeping it a little too real and feeling herself a little too much.  Clearly she did not read our post Soft Skills for Summer Interns.  She's loud, boisterous and goes by "Da-Da".  She also repeatedly refers to Molly as "gurl," despite not knowing her well enough for such a causal manner of address.  When Molly tries to delicately broach the subject of Da-Da switching up a little in the office, Rasheeda gets an attitude and tells Molly that her behavior has gotten her where she is so far, so she doesn't need to change for anyone.  Rasheeda references not having to "switch it up" for her interview or when she became editor of the law review.