Newsletters for Mental Health
Dawn O’Shea-Farley
May 2012

On April 18th, Career Services and Counseling Services hosted a passionate presentation of recent graduates:

Leo Barber, ’11 – BUS
Phil Case, ’10 – MIS
Jolisa Gold, ’11 – CM
Christopher Keller – BUS
Chaning Ogden, ’09 – CE
Russell Richard, ’10 MS-AE/Structural

The unexpected, unscripted, unanimous theme of the night was the importance of PERSONAL BRANDING.  Network, network, network.  Begin practicing these skills while still in school, prepare yourself to engage in the social world of work, NOW!

Get Connected
Start now to get connected to the young professional scene.  The grad panel mentioned four terrific places to begin:

These social/ professional groups exist beyond cyberspace.  For example, FUEL boasts on their website that “FUEL Milwaukee will help you connect to your professional peers, plug in to the community, and ensure that your voice is heard as the Milwaukee Region shapes its culture and brand.”

Chaning Ogden (’09 CE) encourages everyone to get connected.  He suggests committing to at the very least, one, brief visit.  Make a decision and do it!  He feels so strongly that these groups are essential to your future career, he offered to meet you there!  The moral of the story is to consider attending with someone else, but be open to meeting and greeting.  Don’t close yourselves off from the possibilities.

The advice of your graduates suggest that great opportunities will flood your way with a willingness to “open your mouth,” (Chaning Ogden, CE ’09).    Don’t let INTROVERSION or SHYNESS stop you from seeking out the best job, best environment, best opportunity for growth.

Take it from a Fellow Engineer
Russell Richard, MS AE ’10, has done a fair amount of research on the subject, trying to get a handle on his own patterns.  As he correctly ascertained, “Introversion is a personality type … in which a person feels most comfortable with fewer, but closer friends.”  He suggests that, “a person has an option to talk… , but chooses not to.” Richard further explained that “shyness” is quite different.  Richard describes his own experience as a shy person, “it was difficult to know that the shyness I felt was fear because for so long it had been labeled as “shyness,”  which I assumed was separate from other emotions. However after I read that it was FEAR, my entire social experience made so much more sense.  I began to really pay attention to myself and the way I felt about talking to other people and going to social activities.  I wasn’t disinterested in talking to people or going to social events, I was afraid, and I felt that I was missing out on something very important.” (Richard).  Richard characterization is ‘spot on’ and perfectly relevant to the challenges many students might have with the mere thought of “personal branding or networking.”

Best Practices to get beyond the fear
Richard had a couple of suggestions that have worked for him:

  1. Do your own research on shyness.  Read a book or two, examine some online resources open yourself up to a new perspective.
  2. Practice good eye contact.  Start with the least threatening people on earth… babies.  Once you grow a comfort in connecting with little ones, increase the challenge based upon your comfort level.  The next step Russell suggests is to connect with cashiers and baristas.
  3. Small talk and longer conversations can be a big challenge.  Lean on your passions in life, engage like-minded people and practice your new skills.  Build on your skills in a fail-safe environment.  Develop comfort and move toward greater challenges within a reasonable amount of time.

Richard cited a TED talk you might be interested in viewing:
http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

Communication Skills Are Essential
The alumni panel concurred on another important point:  the essentials of written and verbal communication!
Christopher Keller (’09 BUS) spoke of the importance  of effectively conveying a message.  All the grads recognize that half of their day is spent talking with other people – customers, vendors, co-workers, and the boss!  Without adequate practice in presenting your work or your ideas, your incredible skills get lost and the job is likely to suffer.

Jolisa Gold, (’11, CM) has found herself in an unexpected place of rising the ladder very quickly.  She explained that all she does all day is “talk to people,” making decisions on the spot and leading people who are in her words, “a lot older than I am.”  She has skills that her employer believes in, but struggles internally with the challenges of being confident in her communication of those skills.  Further, she acknowledges the discomfort of knowing that her decisions have a large monetary impact on her employer.  Gold believes that MSOE should provide even more opportunity to practice the process of good, stress-inducing, model-based, “decision making.” Gold’s comments were affirmed by the rest of the panel.  You may find yourself leading employees in a way you never before anticipated.

Leo Barber (’11 BUS) challenges today’s student to ask yourself everyday, “what can I do to make my business better?”  He suggests that YOU are your business, seek out opportunity.  Barber acknowledges that one of your greatest  bridges to the outside world is your professors, “talk to them,” get on track, be creative and determine who you want to work for.  Getting to know the landscape is an important step.  Barber reminds students that they can consider the benefit of organizations such as Servant Leadership, Community Advocacy and Community Pick Up…knowing your community can only strengthen your comfort zone and broaden your skill base.  “Everything you do adds to your credibility from the time you first sit down with a potential employer.”  (Barber).

Barber provides the best possible summary to this article.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR ENTIRE EXPERIENCE AT MSOE.    Phil Case (’10,MIS), wants you to know that the classes you don’t think are relevant…  ARE!  Create opportunities to grow your communication skills because it is those skills which will not only help you get the job, but also help you survive life after college.  When given an opportunity, request class discussion opportunities from the faculty.  Now is the time to develop greater comfort as a growing professional.

For those of you who are graduating, take some time to get yourselves connected with Milwaukee’s best social/professional organizations.  It may make the difference in how much you will enjoy the career you have worked so hard to obtain.

Congratulations!  You’ve got a lifetime to look forward to!  It has been a pleasure.