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5 Things I Learned at the Futures Forum

The school I attend, Iowa State University, has a futures forum panel every semester. These panels are made up of former ISU students who graduated from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This particular forum focused on ISU grads that followed the non-traditional career paths to a career in journalism, mass communication, advertising or marketing. The quotes below are ones I found to be highlight points of the talk.

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“You don’t have to know today what you’re going to do tomorrow, just be good at what you’re doing today”

Life is going to lead you in different directions. Opportunities will come that will take you down paths you never expected. It is impossible to plan for everything. That’s why it’s okay to feel uneasy about the future, since it’s hard to know what’s in store. The key is to polish the skills you have now. Work hard, gain confidence, stay engaged and you will be able to take your future steps without hesitation.

“Work with people who are better than you. It will help you better yourself”

You’re not going to learn in an office with people who have the same skill set as you. Although it may seem intimidating, it’s essential to work with people who have an enhanced or different skill set than yourself. You will learn from them and it will help you in your career.

“It’s not enough just to go to class anymore. It’s the extra-curriculars that set you apart.”

Any student who’s any student is going to class. The important thing is to set yourself apart from everyone else. The only way to do this is to get involved. Join a club, volunteer, freelance, etc. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re doing things that will make your resume distinguishable from all the others.

“Be well rounded and diverse. Don’t limit yourself. You might unexpectedly find something you love and if not, you’ll learn from it.”

This goes along with the extracurricular activities.  Make sure you’re not “putting all your eggs in one basket.” It’s important to diversify yourself. Have you been to an art show? Supported a benefit for a cause? Attended a business lecture? Joined a pottery making class? Read up on health blogs? Of course, these examples are not the only things you can do. The point is, dip your feet in many different waters. You might unexpectedly find yourself jumping into a nearby pond or diving into a brand new ocean.

“Find the crossroads between what you’re good at and what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

If you find yourself willingly spending a lot of time doing something, chances are that is something you love to do. If you find people complimenting you on certain things, or asking you to help them with certain tasks, chances are that is something you’re good at. You’re already spending a lot of time on both of these things so why not take them, fuse them together and create your own career path? For example, if you’re a great photographer and you enjoy surfing, why not do both!? Take photos of people surfing or take photos on your own surfing adventures. It’s really that easy! Take what you love and what you’re good at and you’ll never have a job, it will be a paid hobby.

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Phone Interviews: Are They Really that Important? Image

Whenever I tell people I have a phone interview scheduled, they look at me like it’s no big deal. It’s like they think a phone interview isn’t as credible as an in-person interview. I’ve fallen into this thinking before too, but its not right. Here’s why:

Appearance Matters

I know it sounds silly to get all gussied up for an interview where you wont be seen, but it really does make a difference. It’s important to shower, dress professionally, and have good posture throughout the interview. Why does this matter? It matters because your confidence is revealed through your tone of voice. If you slouch, your breathing will be affected, which will travel through the phone lines. It is also important to shower and dress professionally. This is more a psychological manipulation than anything. The interviewer can’t see you, so it shouldn’t matter, but it does. If you dress the part, you’re more inclined to act the part.  You’ll feel more confident, ready, and be more focused. So, don’t be lazy and put on the closest sweats to your bed and think it will go unnoticed.

Be Early

It’s a phone interview, how can you be late? Easily. First, know who is calling whom. Is the interviewer calling you or are you calling the interviewer? If so, what time? Be sure to calculate time zone differences. How embarrassing it would be to miss an interview due to a time zone discrepancy! (I’ve done it so I would know. It’s pretty embarrassing).  Also, be there 15 minutes early. No, I’m not saying to call and ask to be on hold for 15 minutes. I’m saying find a nice, quite, relaxing atmosphere 15 minutes before your interview so you can get situated. It’s a phone interview, so sounds are everything! Make sure there are not any squealing children in the background or an annoying car alarm that could ruin the interview. Stay clear of all distractions, for both you and the interviewer.

Be Prepared

One thing good about a phone interview is that you are allowed to cheat a little. You can jot down some notes you want to address in the interview or questions you’ll ask. However, don’t think that you can solely rely on those. You must do your research. A phone interview is kind of like an open book test; you go into it thinking you’ll be fine, but then you run out of time to look up all the answers and you end up bombing the test. In the same sense, don’t expect you’ll be able to look up the company’s core values or CEO while on the phone. Make sure you have general knowledge of the company beforehand.