You know your graduate degree is helping you to think and act in a new way on the job. You see business challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives and understand how different parts of your organization work together (or not) to get things done. As you know, your new degree is not an automatic ticket to success. But it sure can help you transform your professional brand, i.e., how you are perceived at your work.
How do you demonstrate your value? Here are three suggestions. First, you have to get your work done, on time, in a quality manner, and where people you worked with want to work with you again. No question about that. But you’d be surprised how many people really don’t know what is expected and, as a result, consistently miss the mark and/or forget the “people” side of the equation.
For the second suggestion, corporate recruiters say they are looking for employees who take the initiative. You need to put yourself in a place where you can demonstrate what you have to offer and where you will get noticed. What special projects are helping attack your company’s “pain points”/challenges? Where can you take a leadership role either inside or outside of your area? Have you asked your management about cross-department projects? Who is working on interesting and visible challenges and can you get on board?
Finally, don’t expect your boss to be your advocate and spread the good word about you. It’s your story and you need to let others know, in a professional way, what you’ve done and how you were successful. Next time someone like your vice president says “how’s it going?” or “how is the X project going?”, don’t answer with the typical “fine” or “great”. Instead take a moment to share the success, what you enjoyed/learned about the project, and what you are looking forward to do next. Do you think that will leave a positive impression? Of course.
So, do great work, take on challenges that will get you noticed, and have your success stories prepared. Next steps? What’s your plan that leverages your skills, experiences, and your graduate degree that will get you noticed?
LaBarre Spence, is assistant director of Graduate Business Career Services.