Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interviews, Meetings, Appointments: The Case for Being on Time

I’m reading Dan Kennedy’s book NO B.S. TIME MANGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS. Kennedy credits motivation speaker Ed Foreman with saying you only need to do three things for rapid advancement in most business organizations:

“Show up.

“Show up on time.

“Show up on time, ready to work. So few do.”

While Kennedy and Foreman may be oversimplifying the way to advance in corporations, the advice about showing up on time is extremely important for you to follow at internships or jobs.

Of course, the advice is even more important for showing up on time for an interview for an internship or job.

If you can’t show up on time for an interview, what possibility is there that you will show up on time each day of an internship or work? If you’re late for an interview, you have a huge strike against you before you even shake hands with the interviewer.

I know a college student who told his parents that he wished they had insisted he be on time for school when he was younger. Now that he has his first real job, he’s finding it hard to get accustomed to being on time.

If you do not already have the “on-time” work mentality, you must immediately teach yourself to have this mindset. You must figure out your own coping skills for ensuring that you show up on time.

If you know your habit is to treat time as elastic, it may be necessary for you to plan to get to work 15 minutes early so that you actually arrive on time. Or you may need to a put a timer in the bathroom and kitchen to ensure that, after your alarm clock wakes you up, you don’t get lost reading in the bathroom or at the breakfast table.

Eventually, if you work hard enough at it, you should be able to keep yourself on schedule without such additional reminders. But if you are truly one of those people with no sense of time, you will always have to rely on outside forces to get you to where you need to be on time.

This emphasis on being on time may seem silly to some of you. You may say: “What’s five minutes?” Yet from the perspective of the person expecting you to be somewhere at a certain time, five minutes can be the difference between keeping your internship/job or being shown the exit door.

Maybe it’s time you took time seriously.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

PROJECT RUNWAY and ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL: Lessons from Two Television Shows

ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL is a reality show currently running on the Sundance Channel. The August 27th episode focused on the Tulane architecture students presenting their designs for building an affordable new home in a Katrina-ravaged neighborhood of shotgun houses.

(New Orleans shotgun houses are long narrow houses with no hall – each room is directly behind the other so, if you shot a gun from the front, the shot would go straight through to the back.)

The presentations would impact which of the student designs would be chosen for the students to actually build. Yet almost all the students were really terribly at presenting and “selling” their designs.

Although all these students wanted their design to be the one chosen – big kudo for an architectural student, yet it appeared most of them had given little thought to the explanation and selling of their designs.

As this show follows Bravo’s PROJECT RUNWAY, I had just seen a fashion designer chosen as the one to be OUT partly because of his unimaginative design and partly because he whined during the critique of his design, blamed his model, and actually complained about the judges’ previous “criticism” of him.

Michael Kors, “top American designer,” said words to this effect: Face it, kid, this is what life is like as a fashion designer. You’ve got to be prepared to take the good and the bad.

What do these two television shows have to do with college applications, internships, jobs and careers? Several lessons:

  • If you are given an assignment – when you present that assignment, be prepared to assertively but not aggressively sell your vision.

  • Accept critique willingly and understand that you can often learn more from your mistakes. Do not insist on being the one in the right.

  • Do not blame others for your less-than-stellar presentation. Accept responsibility.

Watching Michael Kors’ face as the OUT designer left the runway, it was clear that Kors felt this guy just didn’t get it. How much better if the disgruntled designer had graciously thanked all the judges for the incredible opportunity to have been part of Project Runway?

Make sure you are thought of as an amicable person who learns from critiques and appreciates your opportunities. That reputation can take you a long way.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Advance Placement Courses: Should They Be Taken in High School?

Whether to take Advance Placement (AP) courses – “college-level” courses – in high school is a BIG discussion topic for students who want to apply to top colleges. This is because how many of the AP courses offered at a student’s high school are taken by a student is a very important criterion for college admission officers.

As one college counselor at a prominent Los Angeles private high school said, there are three things college admission people at top colleges look for on a student’s high school transcript:

1) courses taken

2) grades gotten

3) courses the student could have taken based on the profile of his/her high school (how many of the high school’s offered AP and honors courses the student actually took)

This is the beginning of my second guest blog post at – read the rest of the post at

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Flipping Burgers Has a Guest Post at CollegeFinder by GlobalScholar

I was pleased to be asked to write a guest post about 9th grade college preparation for Here’s the beginning of that post:

To many parents and teens the idea of considering – during the summer before 9th grade – where the student may apply to college in 12th grade seems way over the top. Why put on the pressure so early?

Ironically, applying to college in 12th grade may be easier because of some pre-planning before the start of 9th grade.

Let me explain: When students plan what courses they will take for four years of high school, they may know what their own high school requires (for example, how many years of science, math and a foreign language in order to graduate high school). Equally important, they may not know what courses (and for how many years) colleges will want to see on a student’s high school transcript.

Read the rest of the guest post at

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Business Cards: Are They Still Needed in a World of Web 2.0?

I’m getting ready to get business cards for my younger daughter and me for our company Miller Mosaic, LLC. Up to now there’s been no need for business cards for this new online company, whose website isn’t yet live and whose business model will be part of Web 2.0.

Yet next month my daughter and I will be attending a conference in LA where we hope to meet some of the people we’re following on Twitter and in the blogosphere, such as conference speaker Chris Brogan, a Web 2.0 guru ( We want cards to hand out when we meet these people in person.

Considerations for getting your own business card

If you’re starting to look for your first real job, do you need business cards? After all, if you get a job, you may be provided with business cards. And until you have a job, what would go on your business card?

In the “old” days business cards could cost a lot of money. Today there are so many places online and offline to get cards, including cards that are free except for shipping, that cost should no longer be a deciding factor.

And there’s another consideration. Some time ago I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about people having different business cards for different parts of their lives. For example, someone may work as an accountant during the day and have a company business card. Then she may be a slot car enthusiast on weekends and pass out a personal business card when she meets fellow slot car enthusiasts.

Thus, you could get an inexpensive business card now that can be used while you job search and, after you get that first job, can be used on weekends for meeting people at parties or other venues.

What’s needed on a personal business card?

Name, personal email address, and cell phone number are the minimum needed on a business card plus possible a personal website (as long as there are no inappropriate items on the website). No need for an address, which can change, or your landline phone, which can change. In most cases you’ll keep your personal email and cell phone even when you change jobs.

You could add one more element – something that makes you memorable in the minds of people you meet and yet is “professional” enough when giving out a card at a job interview. Such elements might include: website designer (you made your own website), social media expert (you’re a pro at MySpace and Facebook), political commentator (you’re a regular commentator on several political blogs).

While you may be interviewing for the job of an actuary or a social worker, the interviewer should still be impressed at your “talent” because those companies who haven’t yet embraced Web 2.0 will need all the help they can get to do so in the next couple of years.

Who knows? You may be hired for an actuary job and end up the company’s social media guru as more and more companies create such a position.

So say yes to getting a personal business card. (And you can even attach a copy of it to your email signature.)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

M.B.A. Students Choose to Follow Their Own Career Paths

The August 19th Wall Street Journal article by Samar Srivastava titled “M.B.A.s Skip On-Campus Recruiting” made my heart sing. The article focused on M.B.A. students who took the road less traveled by looking for their own post-M.B.A. jobs instead of going with the jobs-on-offer through campus career services.

Having an M.B.A. myself from Wharton, I know exactly what those on-campus interviews can be like -- the major companies offer the major jobs. And if one of those consulting or Wall Street jobs is not your cup of tea, you have very slim pickings of on-campus job interviews.

One advantage in choosing your own path and working on finding your own job is that you are often a potential work pool of one person when you get interviews on your own. Thus, if you do your research and connect with the right companies, you can have an excellent opportunity of getting the job that you want.

The Journal article says that Michelle Antonio, director of Wharton’s M.B.A. career-services office, talks about the students who opt for their own job searches working at an internship to gain experience. As readers of this blog know, one of my main emphases is on getting internships to try out careers.

One M.B.A. student interviewed for the article said she took an internship to “show her commitment” to the new career path she wanted to follow. This is precisely the opportunity that can be available if you have an open mind towards finding the path that suits you best rather than following the traditional path of someone who just earned an M.B.A.

The moral of this story? If you don’t want to follow the traditional path, be willing to use networking and other techniques discussed here and elsewhere to find your own path.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Does the Way You Speak Turn Off People?

People have accents – distinct ways they pronounce words. And I’m not just talking about accents of people now living in the U.S. who are foreign-born. Almost all of us born in the U.S. have some kind of regional accent if not neighborhood accent.

These accents can often be quite appealing. Other times, however, an accent can work against you either by the image the accent unintentionally conveys or in making it difficult for others to understand you.

When I worked at a newspaper office years ago we had an intern with a particularly grating Philadelphia accent. (It’s hard to describe this accent basically it consists of mispronouncing words in a very distinctive manner.) The other reporters laughed at her accent behind the intern’s back.

I called the intern into my office and suggested that, if she wanted to get ahead in journalism, perhaps she should work on her accent. Her reply: “My parents think my accent is fine but my boyfriend says it’s awful.”

I gently told her that her boyfriend, not her parents, were correct. She needed to lose her particular Philadelphia accent.

How to get help for an unappealing accent?

First, voice pronunciation tapes are available for actors to eliminate their troublesome accents. You can get such tapes from a store catering to actors (such as Samuel French) or from a library to practice on your own.

Second, you can find a friend with the accent you’d like to have and practice how the friend speaks. The friend can record troublesome words and sentences so that you can practice on your own.

And there’s also the internet. Type “eliminate foreign accent” or “eliminate regional accent” on Google and you’ll get several websites.

First impressions in interviews for internships or jobs are so important. It’s a smart move to make sure that you don’t lose out the moment you open your mouth.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Internship or Job Interviews: Do Not Assume That You Know Best

Interviewing for an internship or job in a different region of the U.S. than where you live or go to college? Be prepared to “go with the flow” when you bump up against unexpected regional differences.

Recently I had over for dinner new neighbors who have just moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles. Now I’ve lived in different parts of the country: I grew up and went to undergraduate college in the Midwest, lived in Munich when my husband was stationed there with the U.S. Army, and lived for eight years in Philadelphia before moving to Los Angeles.

Yet, I admit, I was surprised at the pronouncements made by the New Jersey couple --sweeping statement about things that just weren’t true out here. And this reminded me of the first time I interviewed for an M.B.A. position in LA:

I was just finishing my M.B.A. at Wharton and ARCO flew me out here for an interview. Although it was only March, I knew it was warm in LA. So for the interview I bought a purple linen spring suit at a department store in Philadelphia.

And I wore that purple linen suit to my job interview at ARCO in LA. Only the other professionals at ARCO were wearing dark-colored clothes because LA does have seasons. No one was yet wearing spring/summer clothes.

Did I feel foolish that I had made an assumption rather than checking with someone who would have known what the correct professional attire would be for LA in March!

If you are flying across country or even going to an interview at a company in your hometown whose on-the-job culture you don’t know – find out ahead of time what the expectations and situation are.

And if, in the interview, the interviewer says something that isn’t true in your region or in your knowledge base, don’t immediately jump to “correct” the interviewer. Listen to what he or she says. You may just learn something that helps you get the internship or the job.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Looking to Add a Volunteer Activity to Your Resume This Week? Consider Getting People to Donate to Operation Soldier Care

I’m working with Trish Forant of and Nancy Sutherland, sales director of Mary Kay, on Operation Soldier Care to provide sun/skin care products to deployed soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nancy is matching all donations up to $5,000. But we’re only about one-fourth of the way to the goal with a deadline of August 18th.

If you’d like to add an extra activity to your resume, consider the volunteer activity of getting the word out about this very worthwhile project. Read Trish’s blog entry at to learn more.

You can also read my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post at about the former army enlisted man who wrote: If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned what a truly remarkable thing it is to be a combat veteran. Now I want to live an exceptional life for those who never left the desert.

It is for those men and women currently in harm’s way in the desert that we’re doing Operation Soldier Care. So if you can, get the word out about this project through your connections on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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Poorly Written Facebook Message Turns Me Off From a Potential Cousin

I just got a Facebook message from someone in London with the last name of Zimbler who wanted to know my family tree. And instead of eagerly sending this to him, as I had to another Zimbler connection made on Facebook, I sent a reply saying I’d already been in contact with another London Zimbler.

Why did I reply so differently to the second Zimbler request? Because the Facebook message received today was illiterate. And there wasn’t even a profile picture of this Zimbler to go along with his name.

Below is his message with misspellings, no punctuation, etc. I have removed the sender’s first name to protect the guilty.

Hi I am ….. zimbler & have compiled a famley tree Would love to know your parents ,grand parents ect name so I can try to trace you on tree My emaill is ……

This Facebook message made a bad first impression and affected my response. And this reaction is why, in this blog, I am always urging you to be professional in your emails and online messages. After all, why should I take the time to send him my family tree when he didn’t even take the time to use spell check or punctuation or correct English.

If you are going to email or message someone with a request, take a few seconds longer and use correct spelling, punctuation and word usage. The image you protect is your own.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Lifetime TV’s ARMY WIVES Episode Touched on Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities

You may not be a fan of Lifetime TV’s ARMY WIVES. Yet Season 2’s Episode 10 touched on a subject that may be very important to you.

In this episode Roxy was told by Roland, who’s teaching a GED course, that the reason she failed the practice exam even though she knew the material was because she had a learning disability that interfered with transferring her knowledge to a written test.

True, this reveal was not nearly as compelling as the reveal when fans of THE COSBY SHOW found out along with Theo, when he was already in college, that he had a learning disability that interfered with his test taking. (My tears flowed when Vanessa told her father he should be sorry for all the times he ragged on Theo about his grades.) Or in PUNKY BREWSTER when a 12-year-old couldn’t read the poison antidote instructions that could save her younger brother.

Anyway, while Roxy’s learning disability was a rather brief moment in the overall episode, it could be a very important moment in your life or in the life of someone you know.

Many students have difficulties in school that are recognized/diagnosed in elementary school. Yet, for some students, the realization that extra help is needed in test taking or concentrating techniques or any of a number of other concerns doesn’t crop up until the high school or even college years.

At this point it would be good to see if you can get testing in the areas in which you are having problems. Yet some of you may feel that “something” is interfering with your effectiveness yet you aren’t ready to ask your school or others for help.

In this case, there’s a book that may speak to you. Dr. Mel Levine’s A MIND AT A TIME is a treasure trove of explanations of numerous areas of the brain that can affect things that we do (or can’t do).

The author’s writing style is quite dense so you have to be determined to plow through the material and extract the relevant information. Yet the result may be worth the work, especially if you discover some thing or things that you may have been unfairly beating yourself up about. And now you will be able to seek help – hopefully without any embarrassment because you understand that your problems are genetic. The problems have nothing to do with “laziness” or anything else that you can control.

For your parents, advisors or mentors who might want to help you on your path through high school, college and beyond, Dr. Levine has another dense yet significant book – READY OR NOT, HERE LIFE COMES. In this book Dr. Levine is concerned about what he calls “the startup years” and young people’s “work-life unreadiness.” Buried gold is also to be found in this book.

And there’s a national organization that can help with reading problems: Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic ( offers textbooks on tape or CD. On the home page of the website click on JOIN NOW.

Don’t be like Roxy in ARMY WIVES and assume you’re stupid because you don’t do well on written tests. Check out if the wiring of your brain is interfering with your abilities. And, if so, get the extra help that will enable you to compensate for your genetic wiring.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who You Know Still Plays a Large Role in Hiring Decisions

Recently the following comment was left on this blog: just added 3 new sites to their Top 10 Employment sites list:

Only one of them is a social network. Employers and recruiters don’t care if they know someone; they want to hire the most qualified candidate .... nothing will ever change that.

This comment was probably generated by a software program that looks for blogs on which to leave comments that connect to someone’s website. At least I would prefer to think this than to think that someone would purposely write such an idiotic comment.

This comment has NEVER been true in reality even if the hiring manager says he/she wants to hire the most qualified candidate. Unless forced by diversity programs and/or government regulations, people hire who they like. And who they like is usually who they feel comfortable with – which frequently translates into a close copy of themselves.

Now the advent of social media networks has somewhat changed the playing field. Today people can connect in non-traditional ways (outside the men’s locker room and the golf course) and become “friends.”

And – the one site above that is the social network rather than a job website like the other two sites – is really a business recommendation site much more than a true social media network.

Here’s the thing: There can be so many equally qualified applicants for a job. If you were the hiring manager, wouldn’t you rather hire either someone you know personally or someone recommended by someone you know personally (even if that person is known only through a social media relationship)?

For those of you starting out on your path in life, remember that who you know is still very important in the larger picture. And you also need to be prepared when you discover an unqualified candidate has just been hired in your department. In this case, a good question to ask yourself is: Who does this new employee know either online or offline?

The moral of this story: You should always strive to be the best qualified candidate for any position to which you apply – and finding someone to recommend you who knows the hiring manager is also a good idea.

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U.S. Olympians Must Also Train on Correct Behavior While in China

The August 6th front-page Wall Street Journal article titled “U.S. Olympic Training Features A New Requirement: Etiquette 101” by Christopher Rhoads made me smile.

Why this hadn’t been obvious from years ago is a mystery. We Americans are not well-versed in other cultures nor are we particularly well-versed in manners in general. (That’s why I often blog about such seemingly minor things such as getting rid of your gum BEFORE you walk into an interview meeting.)

Apparently in the past the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has only given 15 minutes to guidance on behavior. This new course – given in five cities throughout the U.S. – is mandatory, usually lasts two days, and includes role-playing and group games.

One piece of the instruction included this: “Also discussed was how to hold the American flag during a victory lap. (Answer: not upside down.)”

Whether you are competing in the Olympics or competing for an internship or job, your behavior in public reflects on your overall image. Make sure you’re a gold medal winner when it comes to achieving a positive image.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Internships, Jobs and Careers: Bravo TV’s FLIPPING OUT Jeff Lewis Rants About Entitlement

My younger daughter showed me a brief segment of episode “Tapped Out” of season 2 of Bravo TV’s series FLIPPING OUT ( She wanted me to hear Jeff Lewis – the “obsessive-compulsive house flipper” in LA whom the show follows – talk about his new assistant Chris.

Chris is changing careers and hopes to become a project manager under Jeff. And you know that I often write about the need to take an internship to try out a new career. But Chris is getting paid to try out this new career – and, unfortunately, he has a problem.

Chris unrealistically expects to be a project manager in six months. Jeff informs the camera that he’s been doing this for 20 years. And if everyone could change careers after three weeks on a new job, Jeff would be an astronaut in three weeks.

Jeff is actually hitting on a major problem with young people today – the feeling of entitlement. This is a feeling that everything is due you without any effort or work on your part. And I know that Jeff’s assistant isn’t an isolated case. My cousin who works at a large computer company has complained to me about the entitlement attitude of the interns with whom he works.

How do you know if you are exhibiting this behavior? One clue might be if you say or mutter negative things when asked to make copies of something or to pick up an envelope from the receptionist.

Another clue might be always demanding to do things that you haven’t yet learned how to do well or even been shown how a company wants that task done.

The expression “everyone has to pay his/her dues” is a good one to remember for young people starting out on their own career paths. Or another good expression might be “you have to crawl before you walk.”

For example, although my uncle was chairman of a national food service company, my cousin with a degree from Wharton started out as a cook at one of the food service contracts. For his whole first year of marriage he left the house at the crack of dawn, leaving a good-morning note for his bride. But it was important to learn the business from the bottom up as he rose up the ranks.

The next time someone asks you to copy papers – don’t pout or raise your eyebrows or look annoyed. Instead, smile and eagerly fulfill the task. First, you might learn something from the papers that you’re copying. Second, you’ll be appreciated much more than another new hire who does pout.

Entitlement only comes when you have paid your dues and then some.

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