Have you ever come across a successful individual and thought to yourself, “Man, they work so hard and are doing so well! They must have superpowers or something.” Well, I’ve definitely been there. But even though someone’s current position may be awe-inspiring, it’s important to remember that they too were once in our shoes!
I had the chance to interview Mary Anne Viegelmann, the Global Employee Experience Manager within the Human Resources department at LinkedIn, and she shared with me her best career advice for college students like us.
Ready? Let’s go!
Mary Anne Viegelmann/via LinkedIn
What can college students do to prepare for their careers while they are in school?
"You don’t really know exactly what you’re gonna do in life, but you generally know the things you like doing. Be aware of those passions and skills that you have and try to find the intersection between those two."
"Talk to as many people as possible no matter what they do! Learn about people from all different backgrounds, it doesn’t even have to be “formal networking”. You never know what those conversations might bring. Most people don’t have a figured out plan for their work but a lot of times it
starts with a simple conversation. People are so willing to talk to college students because they want to help you succeed. Take advantage of that now!"
What qualities do you believe makes a career-ready individual?
"Especially with college students, it’s so important that you are coming into the workplace with fresh new eyes. Your viewpoints and actions are not jaded, you’re not stuck in the mentality of 'that’s the way we’ve always done it'. You’re more open and willing to see things differently and you should use that to your advantage. Employers like people who are positive and willing to take on anything. Saying yes to almost anything and trying almost anything will get you pretty far. And when I mean 'saying yes' I mean being willing to take on projects you may not even know a lot about, because it is all a learning experience. Also, be willing to ask a lot of questions! All this helps build new skills too."
"This is huge especially in the tech world. In the four years that I’ve been in Silicon Valley, I’ve seen constant change. So adapting to that and figuring out how to change your programs quickly is so important."
Shift happens throughout careers and throughout life. How have you learned to deal with unanticipated changes in your career journey?
"When I deal with change, I try not to dwell on it too long. As long as the change does not interfere with my values, I think, 'Okay, there is probably a change for a reason.' Some change you obviously can’t control, like when a company is growing, but I try to look at the pros and cons of the change and work with it. If there’s a change that you think is bad, you should still question it and bring your opinion to the table but do it with an open mind. And I think that comes with a certain attitude of positivity and
openness. It’s better to do it with a positive attitude than with a negative attitude, because you have to do it anyway! So why be a grump about it?"
Any other advice?
"One of the biggest reasons of why I’ve been able to be successful in my work is because I’ve taken to heart one of our core values at LinkedIn, which is that relationships matter. And so the way I always approach every situation is to always think about the people first. It doesn’t matter what my motive is, they’re people first. Usually people are more willing to help you out if you have a strong relationship, so by focusing on the person, I almost won’t even have to ask if I need something because they already want to help you. That’s been hugely important for me, building on the relationships without any expectations, because it’s important to know the people you are affecting. And even if there’s nothing they can do for you, that’s okay. You’ve built a relationship and maybe you’ll get to work with them later on. If you can adopt that trait in college, your network will be huge."
"I think college is such a great time to explore and see what’s out there. I don’t think you have to have it figured out. I’ve been working for 15 years in different kinds of roles, and I’m still learning a bunch of different things. Always be learning, always find different opportunities to build your skills. Volunteering is such a huge part of that. You create such great relationships. And showing your skills in something other than schoolwork will help you too. Employers like to see that you are well-rounded, and they especially like to see volunteer experience, especially good employers. Those companies who care about people first will ask those types of questions and notice that type of thing on your resume or LinkedIn profile.
"Lastly, just have fun!"
Thanks Mary Anne! So what do you think? In what ways have you experienced that relationships matter?