By Alexis Musick, Toppel Peer Advisor
With Halloween so close (and finals looming not too far beyond), career development can often get swept under the rug. Costume parties and chocolate just hold an appeal that can’t be beat by 8:30am interviews. That said, it’s absolutely essential – especially as a student – to focus on your future, even with exciting events just a few days away. So, in celebration of my favorite holiday, here are ten ways that Halloween and career development go hand-in-hand:
1. You can carve your own path. Every October, thousands of carved pumpkins make an appearance outsides homes across the nation, each with its own unique design. Likewise, you have the complete freedom to choose your own career path. You are not limited by the choices of others around you; but you can be inspired by them!
2. Imagery is important. You can’t have Halloween without black and orange, ghosts, or little skeletons on the front lawn. There are traditional “rules” – or at least expectations – about what this eerie holiday will bring. Similarly, there are a set of guidelines to follow when choosing what to wear for interviews or career fairs. Ensure that you are always wearing business professional attire as opposed to business casual attire. A great resource outlining just what that means can be found in Toppel’s “Dress for Success” guide.
3. Staying current is the name of the game. When it comes to selecting your costume, you never want to be stuck in the past. The days of Snooki and the Jersey Shore crew are long gone, so instead take a look at the latest TV shows, movies, or memes. In the career world, you always want to remain relevant. To succeed in the workplace today, you need to be in a permanent state of reinvention: understand your company’s mission as it evolves, become familiar with new software and social media as it is incorporated into society, and realize that you will need to be ready (and comfortable) to constantly adapt in any position.
4. You should look out for others. Halloween, especially at a University, can get a little dangerous. Don’t hesitate to be a Good Samaritan at any event or party you may attend – if it looks like someone may need some help, offer it. The same principle applies in the workplace (or in any professional environment). As students or as employees, it is best if you act as a team; and that involves answering any questions your colleagues may have, sharing the workload (if possible), or offering to do extra tasks when you can. You never know where your kindness could take you, especially if you’re looking for that internship of your dreams.
5. There are consequences for your actions. Halloween isn’t just physically dangerous: it could also damage your reputation. What you post online can and will affect your future (and, perhaps, your current state), so ensure that what is posted isn’t illegal or disrespectful. With career development, you always want to ensure that you have an online presence in the form of social media profiles like LinkedIn, and you never want to jeopardize any opportunities by having unprofessional past experiences haunt you.
6. Taking chances can pay off. From a zombie hotdog to a hashtag, Halloween costumes can get totally weird. People push the envelope every year and really put themselves out there. However, that’s what makes this holiday so magical. It’s the risk-taking that makes it so enjoyable and funny, and the people that take those chances are often the ones who make some new friends and get some extra (hopefully positive) attention. The same principle applies with career development. Don’t be afraid to take chances and reach for the stars with any endeavor or project you may have – it shows initiative.
7. Planning ahead is worth it. Generally speaking, you can’t just pull anything out of your closet to use for a costume. If you want to look your best, investing time into planning what you need (and buying it early before it sells out or becomes astronomically expensive) is critical. Investing time into career development pays off, too. If you can build a strong foundation and get started early – by researching internships and employment opportunities early in the year – you will have more opportunities come your way, and be less stressed while you’re at it. The best opportunities go to those who arrive there first.
8. There’s room for change. You aren’t locked into the same Halloween costume from year to year. If you were King Joffrey last year, it doesn’t mean you have to be King Joffrey this year. You could be Daenerys! The same holds for careers: there’s always an opportunity for a career shift. You don’t have to know exactly what you want and then commit to that for the rest of your life. There is room for growth and for change as your interests change and your life progresses.
9. You don’t have to accept every offer. Just like there is room for change, there is room for choice. When every house on 5th Street is offering raisin granola bars or pennies as “treats,” you don’t have to take it. You have the ability to walk down the road to good ol’ 6th Street where the homes are rumored to give out full-sized candy bars. You can also test the waters with your career. With multiple opportunities coming your way, you can wait and see what each has to offer before committing to only one.
10. It’s applicable to everyone. Although Halloween was originally developed as a Western Christian holiday (the eve of All Hallows’ Day) and was inspired by Celtic and Gaelic harvest festivals, nowadays, everyone takes part. Even if you may think that career development doesn’t apply to you, there is always room for improvement. Having a second pair of eyes take a look at your resume wouldn’t hurt, nor would getting some more interview practice in. Don’t forget to make career development a lifelong thing: take some time out of your day and make an appointment for a mock interview or come in for walk-in advising at Toppel.