Foliotek Blog

Lessons from My Part-Time Job

Warning: Lessons from a part-time job during college used to acquire a full-time “adult” job can lead to job advancement, insurance benefits, consistent scheduling, and stable income. Proceed with caution.

I used to dread telling my peers where I worked while I was getting my degree. There is something rather lackluster about being a part-time employee at an indoor playground while in college. It felt like everyone else had locked down internships in their fields, and there I was working what many people considered a “high school students” job. I’d spend my afternoons and weekends singing ‘Happy Birthday’ on repeat, cutting (eating) cake, locating lost parents, cleaning up various bodily fluids (too much info?), giving away prizes, and I couldn’t help but wonder ...

“How can I possibly turn this into relatable work experience in the future?”

Part-time jobs are generally temporary and should be used as a stepping stone to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Despite how “unprofessional” your job may seem to others, if you look hard enough, there are lessons for you to learn that any potential employer will recognize and identify with in their own experiences.

Lesson 1: Communication Skills

You’ll develop essential teamwork skills and invaluable communication experience with people from all different walks of life whether it be customers (or their kids!), fellow staff members, or managers. Many part-time jobs take place in fast-paced environments requiring individuals to step out of their shells and communicate effectively to get the task completed in a timely manner (or else face the consequences of unhappy customers).

Lesson 2: Time Management

This is one of the most valuable skills you can possess as a student and future working professional. This will come from a phase of trial and error. Some days, you’ll oversleep and run into work just barely on time without realizing your socks don’t match. Other days, you will have had time to make the bed, fix breakfast, enjoy a nice cup of coffee, walk the dog, and still get to work 15 minutes early. Despite those rough days, you’ll get a sense of how long your daily routine takes and learn to allot enough time in the future.

Lesson 3: Handling Stressful Situations

This will look different for everyone depending on what your part-time job entails. For me, this was the entire computer system shutting down on a rainy Saturday (prime weather for the indoor playground business). The computer system controls literally everything in the building from all monetary transactions to the arcade games. Now, I could have chosen to freak out. Instead, I handled the situation with grace and clarity. I provided the customers with necessary updates while using alternative methods for transactions which allowed us to avoid the potential uproar.

Regardless of how you earned your work experience, take solace in knowing that you learned valuable lessons in the process. And when the interviewer asks you to discuss your resume and job experience, answer with confidence because you got this!


The Power of Body Language

The moments leading up to my year-end review were like what most other people experience: nerves building deep within the gut, clammy hands, heart beating out of my chest. All the nervousness was making me feel sick. I knew I was a good employee and really didn't have anything to worry about, but I just couldn't calm my mind or body to be confident and comfortable. Then I remembered a bit of knowledge my colleague had previously dropped on me, and I ran to the bathroom. The two minutes I spent locked in the stall were silent; filled only with my wonder woman power pose and a growing confidence in my bones. You see, there is an untapped power that people either don't know they have or they forget to use. A power that with just two minutes before a possibly stressful situation, can not only raise your testosterone levels (build confidence), but lower your cortisol levels (reduce stress). What is this magic potion, you ask? The power of body language.

Body language doesn't only refer to the awkward lack of a handshake on the news, the slouching student in class who doesn't know the answer, or the nervous Nelly grimly looking over their resume again before an interview. As Amy Cuddy explained in her 2012 TED Talk, it's the ability to configure your brain to cope the best way possible in whatever situation you're in.

Cuddy explains, "We tend to forget, though, the other audience that's influenced by our non-verbals, and that's ourselves. We are also influenced by our non-verbals, our thoughts, and our feelings, and our physiology." Think about the last time you felt judged. I bet it probably made you feel pretty crummy. What we don't always realize is that we do this very thing to ourselves on a daily basis! We are consistently putting ourselves down, not feeling good enough or not meeting certain expectations of ourselves. But what if we were to take this approach of using body language to not only impress others, but to impress ourselves? Even if you're not feeling impressive or empowered, take the time to make yourself feel like you are.

Fake it 'til you make become it - Amy Cuddy

We could, quite possibly, get ourselves out of the never-ending cycle of disappointment and defeat, and instead be confident, authentic, and passionate individuals. So, do yourself a favor. Sometime today, head to a bathroom stall, a quiet room, or a field in the middle of nowhere, and do a power pose for two whole minutes. Feel the stress drain and the confidence invigorate your mind.

Tell us in the comments what you think about power-poses and their ability to change the way you feel! Do you do anything to calm your nerves or invigorate yourself before particularly stressful situations?


Ownership of Online Identity

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

We all know the nursery rhyme. Humpty, the egg, falls off the wall. Sadly, it's all over for him. Nobody figures out how to reassemble Humpty. And if you watched the Super Bowl this year, Turbotax even made a commercial about the guy.

What I find interesting about this little nursery rhyme is this: nowhere is “Humpty” identified as an egg. But, I would wager, you never questioned whether Humpty was or wasn’t an egg (unless you are one of those philosophical types that questions everything). You just assume, from the evidence provided by popular culture, that he was an egg. Spoiler alert! There is literally no evidence that suggests that Humpty was an egg. Whoa! Time to rethink the meaning of your life. Of course, if you dig deep, there are a variety of theories that lead to the conclusion that Humpty Dumpty was, indeed, an unborn chicken (but wait ... was it even a chicken's egg?). You’ll need to research those on your own.

The point I am trying to make is that we all too often take things at face value. I’ve seen hundreds of nursery rhyme books featuring the egg, Humpty, perched precariously on the wall. Therefore, I never questioned his species, genus, family, order, class, or phylum. Why should I, the evidence was right there. Obviously, Humpty’s origin is not going to change the direction of my life, so I have no reason to dig into the roots of this nursery rhyme. However, there are many times in life when we face making an important decision where knowing the history and facts could have significant repercussions. In those instances, you don’t want to judge a book by its cover.

You are probably aware of times when digging a bit deeper is important. For example, election years might cause you to dig a bit deeper. Figuring out where to further your education will probably push you to do a bit of research. And maybe a job search would drive you to dig deeper into various opportunities. However, I can assure you of a time when research is paramount. Interestingly, it isn't research done by you, its research done on you. YIKES!

This happens when hiring managers are considering whether or not to bring you in for an interview. They begin to search for what public (or private) evidence exists that supports the claims you made on your resume. Will they discover you’re an egg or something else entirely? In a recent survey, Career Builder found that 60% of employers will use Social Media to gather more information about job candidates. So what does this mean for you?

Career Builder found that 60% of employers will use Social Media to gather more information about job candidates.

If you are job searching, you need to make certain that you have curated your online brand. This means shutting off all publicly accessible components to the online social channels you frequent that aren't professional. It also means googling yourself to see what shows up. Because you're limiting access to these online brands, it would be wise to also provide the hiring manager a professional online brand to view. If they are going to creep on you anyway, why not give them a guided tour? There are many tools available to help you create an online brand. Of course, I’m going to recommend some Foliotek magic, but you can certainly give others a whirl. What’s most important is that you take ownership of your online content.

If you don’t define who you are, other people will define it for you.


Imani Steele: Building My Personal Brand

alt When we see a student get this excited about building her brand, we knew we had to get an interview to learn more. Imani Steele is a sophomore marketing major with a minor in business analytics and is a Fellow at the Center for Business Leadership (CBL) in Miami University's Farmer School of Business. One of the CBL's top priorities is creating improvement initiatives that are organized and run entirely by the Fellows (students) in the program.

In last week's post, we spoke with the Fellows responsible for implementing the Foliotek Initiative. Below is our interview with Imani which provides a student's perspective.

Foliotek: You are working on a separate initiative with your team. What did you learn from that experience?

Imani Steele: When you're on a team with phenomenal leaders that create a very diverse environment, you learn a lot. I've learned how to be an effective, inclusive leader and make sure that everyone's input is utilized. You can't get away from teamwork, collaboration, and diversity (some of my core values) in society.

F: At some point, you were told that you would be using Foliotek to showcase your own initiative. What was your first impression?

IS: The advisors informed us during our individual leadership lab in September that we would be using Foliotek to record our experience and how it relates to CBL's main values. I thought it [Foliotek] was really cool, and obviously there are many ways to promote your personal brand, but Foliotek can really showcase your individual and team projects, which I love.

F: What was the impact of using Foliotek to showcase your projects?

IS: Foliotek lets you go more in-depth when it comes to explaining and showcasing your projects. I was able to take time to reflect on what I actually did. The way the project templates were structured helped me not only talk about what I did on the surface level, but I was able to dig in deeper and talk about how it shaped me in my leadership and teamwork skills.

F: What value did you get from reflecting on your work?

IS: There is always room for growth. Being able to reflect on what you've done and document your growth, see your growth, and show your growth is really effective in crafting your professional and personal brand. Every application I fill out for internships, I always put a link to my Foliotek ID page. Foliotek has helped me with this because I can tell anyone to 'go to this website to see what I've done,' and [my projects] are right there with a click of a button. I don't think I could have thought of a better way of showcasing everything I've done while building my own authentic brand.

alt F: Do you think you'll continue to build your brand in Foliotek?

IS: Absolutely! I've even had to pull stuff from freshman year! I'm currently working on a project in one of my business classes and I will put it in there; any other project I complete from here on out will be going into Foliotek. When it [my ID Page] was done, I had to send it to my dad. Every time I talk to him, he wants to know what I'm doing in school. He thought it was really cool and was impressed! I now have a way to keep my parents up to date and show them that everything they are putting into my education really is an investment!

F: So, what are your next steps in the CBL?

IS: One thing I love about being a part of the CBL is that it's student-run. I'm excited to continue to be part of the CBL and come up with ideas for how the center can really be effective and continue to do things for the Farmer School of Business and Miami University as a whole. I have a few plans [for future initiatives] that would be really cool for inclusion and diversity within the CBL, and hopefully that could trickle down to the Business School as a whole.

F: We've really enjoyed being a part of this improvement initiative at your school. Fellows are creating strong, professional brands that reflect highly on the values of the CBL and Miami University. Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us today.

IS: Thank you for letting me have this opportunity!


Promoting Student Leadership

What if we lived in a world where college students were so engaged in their programs and degrees that they encouraged their peers to become successful, professional individuals? Where the stereotype of 'lazy millennials' was completely debunked? Where students become leaders who take control of their education, enhancing their own campus using real-world experiences? Impossible, you say? False. This world does exist: it's the William Isaac and Michael Oxley Center for Business Leadership in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University.

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(Pictured: Mollie, Noah (Qualtrics Survey Team Lead), and Emma)

The Center for Business Leadership (The Center) gives business students (fellows) hands-on leadership experience through a paid internship, financially supported by either The Center or a Sponsor Company. Fellows are called to work on purposeful projects, called initiatives, that are designed to improve The Center and the school as a whole. One of The Center's Co-Directors, Megan Gerhardt, tells us that these initiatives allow the fellows to be involved in meaningful work that relates directly to their business degrees while also contributing to their own professional development.

The Center recognized a need to showcase this work to both the Sponsors and future employers, but also wanted a tool that allowed students to reflect on their growth. This resulted in the Leadership Portfolio Initiative. Several platforms were researched and tested by the fellows to find the right fit. They needed a product that looked professional and created a consistent brand for all students, but was also quick and easy to design. The Center decided that Foliotek struck the appropriate balance. Two students were responsible for implementing the Foliotek Initiative: Mollie Etgen, who served as the team lead, and her co-leader, Emma Ciesick . Mollie, a senior majoring in Management Leadership, has secured a position as an Operations Manager for a Target Distribution Center. Emma is in her junior year, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Business Analytics. She has landed a summer internship with Fifth Third Bank’s Consumer Leadership Program.

"It's the first time I've been in a student organization and I'm actually able to lead something I'm genuinely passionate about" - Mollie

Fellows were instructed to complete a Foliotek ID page and include projects to showcase how they carried out their own initiatives in relation to The Center's values. To facilitate this process, Mollie and Emma created templates that guided fellows with reflective prompts and provided extensive support and resources to ensure student success. As fellows began working in Foliotek, they recognized the benefit of building their personal brand and were excited about the possibilities. Not only can their brand be used to demonstrate the initiatives of The Center, but also as a tool to market themselves to potential employers. Fellows especially liked how easy it was to share their brand with others via mobile access. In addition to the enthusiasm from fellows, the Foliotek initiative has also received positive feedback from the Dean, Dean's staff, and advisory boards.

"The feedback we got from them [the advisory board] was probably the most rewarding part of this. They were really excited about it; they said "Why don't more people have this? It's such a great and modern way to showcase yourself that's better than a resume!" - Emma

With a successful implementation of Foliotek, the Center now has a way to hold fellows accountable for their initiatives. Furthermore, since The Center has to recruit companies to sponsor the fellows, they can also use Foliotek as a powerful marketing tool. Instead of trying to relay information second-hand, recruiters are able to bring these stories directly to companies, donors, and alumni, showcasing exactly what the fellows are accomplishing.

What's next for the Foliotek initiative? This spring, new fellows will be coming into The Center and will be introduced to Foliotek. Mollie and Emma are already planning a few changes to make the initiative even more successful, including streamlining their training resources. Moving forward, Emma will take over the Foliotek Initiative when Mollie graduates. Reflecting on the experience, Mollie shares, " ... it's really awesome that I can help others showcase their leadership development because that's such a crucial part of who you are."