Sunday, October 8, 2017

How to Get Away with Bad Grades

On-campus interview season can be a daunting period. Interviews heighten competition and insecurity that many students already experience. Taking a break from the murder coverups and sex scenes, HTGAWM devoted a good portion of last week's episode to the on-campus interview experience of law students. One recurring issue throughout the episode was grades. It appears that the Murder Crew's escapades caught up with them in the form of low GPAs and class rank.

Let's talk grades.

1. Take your grades seriously. Grades are very important. Grades are not a reflection of how smart you are, they are a reflection of how dedicated, disciplined and prepared you are. Many factors can affect grades, including poor health, family drama, relationship drama, ineffective studying and learning disabilities. Get to the source of your bad grades and start working through the issue as soon as you identify the problem.

2. Don't count yourself out because your numbers are low. Yes, grades are very important, but low grades should not stop you from applying to jobs or showing up to interviews. Even when you show up, you could still be counting yourself out mentally by exhibiting low confidence or embarrassment. A grade is not a measure of your value. You should be just as confident and willing to put yourself forward with straight A's or straight C's. The only difference is how you prepare to discuss your grades during the interview.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Personal Devices, Privacy and Your Office

If you have work emails on your phone, your phone is not your own (not exclusively). You are in possession of company proprietary information and you have additional responsibilities. Also, many companies install software with terms that give them the right to collect data from the device or wipe the device in the event of thief. Know the terms.

I first came to this realization when my job upgraded the email software on my phone. All employees were required to make their phone passwords longer and more complicated. At this point something clicked, I was sending and receiving sensitive client information on the same device I was using to post selfies on IG and screenshot memes. 

My solution: I now have a separate work phone and personal phone. 

This solution is not practical or efficient for everyone, but I'll explain why it works for me.
  1. Colleagues often ask for my cell phone number in order to contact me while I'm traveling. Now, if my work phone rings, I know it's work related and can better screen the calls.
  2. My job no longer has to regularly install and update programming on my personal phone which contains my private information. (I always wondered if the IT folks scroll through people's pictures and text messages when they got bored.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Corporate Vacations: Best Practices

Vacations in Corporate America can be difficult to navigate. Even in more casual settings, corporate culture is very hierarchical and more senior professionals are going to get priority when it comes to scheduling adjustments. 

Effectively taking a vacation starts with your work product and your work brand. The first is a matter of doing good work and working hard. The second is a matter of being known as a hard worker who does good work.  

Once you are known to be a hard worker, the vacation will seem "earned" or "deserved". 

The next step is providing notice. I notify my team about my vacation days by email in 3 month blocks, i.e. "These are my days for August, September, and October." These days include anything from long weekends to full length trips abroad.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Black, Corporate and Greek: Part 2 (Networking)

The Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO) network is as much a professional network as it is a social network. First and foremost, the brothers or sisters of your organization are potential mentors, colleagues, recommenders and clients. Then there is the larger Black Greek community whose members may serve the same functions. In the corporate world, there are so few of "us" that we look out for each other, especially amongst fellows BGLO members.

**Those petty differences that we chant about on the yard do not matter in the office.**

So how do you get connected?

1. Join an alumni/ae chapter. "Join" means show up to chapter meetings, pay dues, and support a few programs. We're not in college anymore. Family and careers come first, but chapter involvement may be a good career move as well as fulfilling the pledge you made when joining.

2. Wear your sorority/fraternity pin to networking events. It's an easy conversation starter and much more subtle than wearing a line jacket. The pin should fit the occasion and pair well with the outfit you are wearing.

3. Bring your BGLO up in conversation. Let's be clear, this should only be done if it is on topic and highlights your leadership or service experience. Randomly dropping your BGLO out of context without anything to further the conversation will be unhelpful and awkward.

4. Go to Convention/Clave/Cave (whatever they're calling it). Go to the national and regional meetings of your organization and make an effort to meet new people while you are there. These trips are often expensive and time consuming, but they are also fertile ground for professional networking.