Learning How to Put My Best Self Forward with PLEN

Emilie LitsasEmilie Litsas, Recent Graduate, American University

For five full days, I had the opportunity to meet with exceptional students and professionals in the field of international relations with the PLEN Women in Global Policy seminar.

Here are 3 pieces of advice I learned that week: 

(1) It is so important that we work with people who bring compassion and conscience to the workplace. Every day you will have opportunities to positively impact someone else’s life. Think about that and reflect on how you can create positive human connections. Actively listen in conversations and meetings with colleagues. Be considerate and kind in how you go about your goals. Remind yourself of the big picture of the tasks at hand and weigh other points of view before coming to a decision. Do your research and show that you’re engaged with and informed about the topics of your meetings. If you can be both personable and competent at your job, you’re going to find success in whatever you pursue.

(2) No one hires you for your interests or for that paper you wrote in college, they hire you for your skill set. Having a passion or maintaining a hobby is not going to get you a job, but, it can teach you relevant skills and prove your character to an employer. Let’s say you were a camp counselor over the summer. That means you managed a group of people and kept to a tight schedule. You assisted with program administration, handled and delegated tasks during emergency situations, and provided customer service. Those are your hirable qualities! Now, I want you to take out a pen and paper, and write down your biggest time commitments and the things you love to do. Next to that list, create a separate column with bullet points that tell the story of what you did and what you learned from those roles. In a third column, list the concrete skills and qualities that came from those experiences. Put a little asterisk next to the experiences and skills that are relevant to what you’d like to be doing in your next position. Learning how to market your best qualities and how you’d like to present your personal brand is going to be incredibly useful for you as you build your career.

(3) Bring your best self into every room you walk into. Now that you’ve figured out the value that you bring to a team, remember: you continue building a reputation for yourself and expanding your community outside of the workplace. Put your best foot forward and consider how you want to be remembered from your daily interactions. They may have a larger impact on your life, because your reputation will follow you. At networking events, or in less obvious settings, like the grocery store or the metro, you have ample opportunities to interact with people on a daily basis. The people you meet may offer you advice, or a referral to someone in their networks who can be of help to you. Being genuine and courteous can go a long way under any circumstance, and if you present yourself poorly, that may come back and damage your opportunities down the road.

No matter what your career goals or challenges are at the moment, remember these 3 points. And check out PLEN for their future seminars and programs!