• Coffee with a CEO: College students gain more by networking up

    by Timothy Evans

    A screenshot of the blog author on a web call with 13 others.

    A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest rank that you can achieve in a company. For many of us, achieving this position seems like a far-off dream – especially as a college student. Students know that networking is important, and while it can be intimidating to network up with a higher-level executive, there’s so much to gain by putting yourself out there.

    When making the connection, it is natural to get nervous, of course, but you don’t need to change who you are to impress them. Students tend to forget that a CEO is still a human being. Here are three things I do during the preparation, presenting, and follow-up stages of connecting with a CEO.

    Preparation

    This step is crucial. By preparing, you will have a better grasp of what to say and ask. Yes, you will get nervous, but the preparation phase helps calm those nerves. It’s similar to taking a test after studying extensively: you still feel anxious, but you KNOW that you are ready. Ways in which you can prepare are simple.

    • Pick out clothes to wear the day before. Your clothing choice is essential. It shows the executive that you respect them and that you are here to be remembered. Even in a virtual setting, you want to look professional on screen.
    • Write out an outline of what you want to say. Make sure to keep this as an outline. You are not reading a word-for-word script but helping to keep a conversation structure. Studies have shown that going over an outline three times can best prepare you for a presentation.
    • Get questions ready that aren’t just about the business or your goals. Ask questions about his/her interests and try and find things that build a relationship between the two of you. This will help you stand out from the crowd as well.

    The prep phase is critical, and with these three things in mind, you can wake up in the morning with the most incredible sense of relief.

    Presenting

    You will be nervous. Do not try and fight that - embrace it. When you speak to an executive, you want to keep it brief. Do not ramble on. Show them that you can get to the point and respect their time. When presenting, make eye contact, use your hands when speaking to declare emphases, and nod when spoken to. These all are important in showing that you can be confident in your ideas and an active listener. Lastly, presenting doesn’t mean just you are speaking. Let the other person talk as well. Ask questions about things they bring up to show interest and show that you care about what they are saying and want to know more.

    Follow Up

    After the meeting or casual coffee call, make sure you follow up and share something that you appreciated about the conversation. People love reflecting on good stories, and CEO’s are no different. Don’t forget that it is okay to ask questions in the follow-up email. It doesn’t have to be goodbye. If you liked your conversation and felt it was a good connection, use this email as an invitation to connect further.

    Now that you have understanding of the do’s and don’ts, you should be ready to put yourself out there and grab the attention of an executive. Remember to always prepare beforehand, maintain good presentation skills, and be ready to continue the conversation, even after the call.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


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  • Finding a Faculty Mentor

    by Tori Jacobson

    Blog author Tori Jacobson stands in front of a large presentation board showing information about Gender Socialization.

    Have you heard the term “faculty mentor”? Though connecting with faculty can appear challenging in the digital classroom, it is still possible to find a mentor to help you throughout college. A faculty mentor is a faculty member you can go to for questions, recommendations, and to help prepare you for work in your specific field. My faculty mentor has helped me attend conferences, write research, and she will write a recommendation letter for graduate school. But what makes a good faculty mentor? Here are three characteristics to keep in mind as you are considering a possible mentor search:

    They make themselves available

    How difficult would it be to have a faculty mentor you can never get in touch with? You can often tell pretty quickly how willing a faculty member is to make themselves available as a resource for their students. It may come as a shock, but professors have lives of their own outside of the university setting. Some professors will stick to straight office hours, and those designated time slots will be the only time they will use to communicate with students. Professors who offer one-on-one appointments, their office phone number, or different ways to message them make it evident that they want to get to know and better assist their students. A professor that makes a great faculty mentor will offer multiple options for communication and will appear unbothered to do so.

    They are well connected to their field

    Whether they have always been in academia or if they returned to it recently, having knowledge of opportunities within your field is an important factor in a mentor. This can look like awareness of conferences, internships, or other resume builders they can recommend to you.

    You enjoy their course

    This one sounds like it shouldn’t be a requirement, but it is easier to work with someone when you are used their communication strategies and are comfortable approaching them. If you are terrified to approach this professor, they probably aren’t the best pick. Your job as a mentee is to observe and communicate with your mentor as much as possible to best learn whatever knowledge they are inclined to share. If you already are having difficulty sitting through a one-hour lecture with this professor, adding more one-on-one interactions may not be beneficial.

    I hope these tips help you to find a faculty mentor that fits your needs! This is a great tool for students to utilize while they still have easy access to their highly trained and connected professors. Don’t let that opportunity pass!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us -– click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

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  • My Mentor, My Friend: Dr. Bonita Leavell

    by Victoria Bankowski

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    I sat in my first chemistry class and listened to my instructor talk about a former student she had given a letter of recommendation to. That student was accepted into all three of the Ivy League universities she applied to. From that point forward, I found myself dreaming of ways that I might land myself a spot in a classroom at one of the Ivy League schools. Whether it was a summer research program offered, or a transfer scholarship to complete my bachelor’s degree, I passed the time away trying to imagine ways I could turn this dream into reality. Dr. Leavell made me feel in my heart that I, too, could go to one of the top universities in the United States. I was inspired and set my sights on attending Johns Hopkins University (JHU).  It was because of the way Dr. Leavell spoke to me that I felt that I could transfer from my community college to an Ivy League school if I worked really hard.

    Dr. Leavell inspired and motivated me to reach for my dreams and apply to transfer to a top school. She helped me realize my capabilities. Dr. Leavell taught me the importance of learning in a way that is smart and effective. When Dr. Leavell talked about her previous students, she was so proud and it was so great to hear about other students who were successful. I feel that it’s important to have a professor and mentor who shares examples and inspires students to go for their dreams. Dr. Leavell is a gem and she is one of the finest professors who taught at my community college.

    Dr. Leavell is an inspiration. She encouraged me to succeed. She changed my mindset. I went from believing that I would never go to a top notch school to believing that I was as capable of attending an Ivy League. Especially when my professors gave examples of other students who were in my seat from years before. It was Dr. Leavell who turned my thinking around and inspired me.  She inspired me to apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship to help me pay for an education that I knew that I could not afford.  I began applying to lots of different schools to transfer to.  In March, I received a letter stating I was selected as a semifinalist for the top ranked Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.  I realized that even if I don’t get selected for this prestigious honor, I am still a winner. I did not get into Johns Hopkins University. However, I was so excited to get into the University of Michigan Ann Arbor on a full tuition scholarship and doing very well.

    I spent my life filled with self-doubt. It was Dr. Leavell’s belief in me that allowed me to understand and focus on the prize, along with helping me transform my insecurity into confidence and determination.

    It is very important that students recognize their mentors.  Especially educators who go to work every day for the students benefit. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think twice about the impact she made on me. It is equally important that I tell her how important she was in getting me to believe in myself. Dr. Leavell, I want to say thank you so very much for the lesson you have taught me.  I will never forget you.   I will cherish the thought of you, in my heart for the rest of my life. I hope not to disappoint you, for you are such a very important determining factor in my success. Thank you!

     

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  • Find a Mentor in Anyone - Including yourself!

    by Amanda Smith

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    A mentor is defined as “a trusted counselor or guide” (Merriam-Webster). Throughout my life, I have looked for a mentor in all that I do, and have always tried to reciprocate it. Mentors come in all kinds of forms, whether they are defined as a mentor or not. My first mentors were my parents and my grandparents. Family often shapes morals, values, actions, mentalities, and much more from a young age. My family enforced the idea of working hard while always finding time for the important parts of life. As I began school, teachers and friends became mentors. Seeing how my teachers cared for myself and my peers enforced the importance of compassion in my life. Throughout high school and now in college, my friends have become my mentors and my mentors have become my friends.

    As I have gotten older, I have realized that mentors are not always 20 years older who are assigned the role of guidance. My roommates have acted as mentors in classes that we are taking, or decisions about internships and the professional process, or even just building habits such as eating healthy and exercising. Besides being the same age, mentors can be younger as well. I have met various people this year at school who are younger than myself and have such a drive and passion for life that they have inspired me to continue to work towards my goals.

    With each day passing, I look for an opportunity to work in someone else’s life as a mentor, even if it is just in the smallest way.  This semester I have had the opportunity to be the Vice President of Pledge Education for my business fraternity as I have led 17 students through the pledging process preparing to be an active member. My goal for this role was to develop them professionally and personally as much as possible. At first, I found difficulty in this as I have not had as many experiences due to my young age. Throughout this whole process, I learned that there is nothing wrong in asking for help. I have greatly utilized older members of our chapter for various professional events that I planned, because the more well-rounded an event is, the more useful it is for the pledges. Even acting as a mentor this semester, I have had various mentors and learned more about leadership than what I ever could have imagined.

    Throughout the rest of my life, I will utilize the lessons I have learned from my mentors for the past, but always search for more mentors in all that I do. Everyone has a story, and each story has a lesson from it, good or bad. If you are in search of guidance, a mentor is always there to help, even if they do not come across as that right away.

     

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  • My Mother, a Mentor

    by Cassandra Lawton

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    I think that everyone has someone they can call a role model in their life. Whether it is someone you know personally or a famous person you look up to, I feel that everyone can feel inspired by at least one other person in the world.

    One of my many role models is my mother. She has always inspired me through her actions and her lessons she has taught me. My mother had me when she was eighteen and she wasn’t ready for a child at all. She quickly turned her life around and worked hard to graduate adult education and receive a high school diploma before I was born. When I was born, she saved all her money for a trailer that I called home for a couple years. My grandmother allowed my mother to buy some land from her and we transported a home onto the land, this home still continues to be my home. My mother has provided a stable life for me even though she was never able to fully experience everything she could have.

    After we obtained stability and my mother was hired into a more constant job, she decided to have my little sister. During the last couple months of her pregnancy, both of my cousins had family situations happen. My oldest cousins mother had died many years ago, but now her grandmother was going to give up her rights and put her into foster care. My mother didn’t hesitate to become my eldest cousin’s guardian and then not much longer my other cousins mother died of cancer leaving four siblings out of a home.

    My mother became the guardian of one of the siblings from the family and the rest went to live with my grandmother. Within one year my mother went from having one child to four children. Our household’s money was tight for a while, and my mother tried her best to give us an amazing childhood experience. My father built the second half of our house all by himself to give us each our own bedroom. My mother also gave us an allowance for cleaning the house that we had the option of putting together in order to go out to dinner, bowing, or the movies. Finally, she always tries to help us learn from our experiences.

    Currently, my oldest sister and I am the first ones ever to go to college in our family. Our mother has been there for both of us every step of the way, even though she never was able to go to college herself. My mother and I are very close and I consider her one of my best friends. I hope to help her and repay all the kindness she gave me and my siblings, but for now I still look up to her as my mother and my biggest role model.

    Who is your biggest role model? What impact did they have on your life?

     

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