Gini Dietrich

Preparing Students and Young Professionals for the Business World

By: Gini Dietrich | September 15, 2010 | 

During the summer I fell off the InsidePR bandwagon. Not in terms of recording, but in terms of talking about it here. But I’m baaack! And this week, Martin Waxman, Joe Thornley, and I discuss preparing students and young professionals for the business world.

We’ve talked here before about using the social web to find a job, but this discussion is a bit different. With school back in session, these tips are really for those who need to be figuring out how to begin looking for internships or for a full-time job by summer.

1. Remember your personal brand and that online doesn’t forget. The things you put on the web right now create the person that will follow you around for the rest of your life. You’ve likely already heard it’s a bad idea to not let your friends tag you in photos of you doing body shots, but also think about what you say and what others say about you. As employers, we look at everything about you online to determine what kind of employee you might be and whether or not you might fit our culture. Google sees everything so be cautious.

2. I guest lectured at DePaul a few weeks ago and part of the discussion we had there was about creating a blog. Create a blog! Share what you know professionally (either from internships or the job you’ve already begun) and what you’re learning in school. You don’t have to be an expert in your field to write. Becky Johns is a great example of that. She is a young professional, yet she does a great job writing about her experience working, about her interests in photography and (hopefully) skydiving, and about the influencers she meets. Check out I’m Working On It to see what I mean…we all read her blog and most of us have more experience than she does. So don’t be scared by not having experience.

3. This is the one I cannot stress enough. Engage, engage, engage! You have tools available to you that allow you access not only to the people who work at the companies where you think you might like to work, but to their executives. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to build online relationships with these people. Comment on their blogs. You don’t alway have to agree. Give you opinion, throw in new information, and get them to pay attention to you. It’s funny what happens when someone feels like they know you because you’ve taken an interest in their work…if they can’t hire you, they’ll find someone who can!

4. One of the questions we ask when we interview is, “What was the last book you read?” If you can’t answer that or “what magazines, newspapers, or blogs do you subscribe to?” we’re likely not going to hire you. I have a friend who asked that question of a candidate just the other day and the person said, “Oh I don’t have time to read.” Guess what? No job offer for you! Read, read, read, and subscribe. Not only does a job offer depend on it, your job (once you get it) depends on it. Reading makes you smarter, more open-minded, and a better writer. Get in the habit now.

5. Don’t be negative. You would think this goes without saying, but you’d be amazed at how many people complain non-stop online. I am connected with people who complain daily about their jobs, about their bosses, about the fact that they can’t find a job, about everything. Trust me when I say, some of these people are really good friends, but I would never hire them nor recommend them to be hired because they’re so negative. Be a person people want to be around…online and off.

For more tips, listen to today’s episode of InsidePR (or listen just to hear me screw up at the end). For those of you who’ve been in the business world for a bit, what advice do you have for students and young professionals?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Great post Gini. I’m going to forward this to my kids.

    • Roger, from what I understand, you have pretty grounded kids, but hope one little tip from this helps in some way.

  • As a young professional myself, it’s also important to be a part of the scene. Go to the monthly meetings held by professional organizations in your community. These meetings are a great way to learn what’s going on in the industry and network with your peers and potential employers.

    • Kristen, GREAT point about getting out and networking in person! I guess we assumed people already knew that. Thanks for adding the tip!

  • Funny you should “pen” this today Gini since I had a recent conversation with a friend who had had a student painting company in to do some work for her this past summer. She was less than satisfied with the quality and was surprised to hear from the Manager that any “touch ups” or miscues made by his crew would be on her dime.

    When she mentioned her disatisfaction and the fact that she’d be sharing her experience – not only with his head office by word of mouth but online as well – his retort was “I don’t care…I’ve made my $20,000 for the summer.” Having been a Manager for the same company many moons ago it started me thinking that preparing for your professional career needs to start long before you take the diploma from the Chancellor’s hands at graduation.

    Basic training such as client relations, crisis management, hiring skills, financial management and all the other elements that are required to run a successful business are crucial and deserve more than a simple “how-to” manual…especially when we are now dealing with a medium (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that has a longer memory than we do.

    Now this young man may not care about his reputation – in real life or online – at this point…but karma has a way of coming back around…learning how to manage client relations and what is being said about you now as a student means you are less likely to be receiving a further education from the “School of Hard Knocks”. Cheers,


    • Andy, I am SHOCKED about this person’s retort! You’re absolutely right…it’s not just the way we behave online. Offline counts, too. And people have gigantic networks to spread the word about how unprofessional someone is being in their summer job.

  • I too am amazed at the complaining that happens on the social networks. If I can see so can anyone on-line.

    • Patti, during a speaking engagement I did last month, we did some searching to see what people think are not online, but I was able to find. They were really surprised to see what Google finds.

  • These are all great points.

    I think the biggest hurdle I’ve had to get over is networking. I went through college thinking networking was an evil thing; that it was just a lot of fake people looking to use each other to advance in business. So I avoided it at all costs. But I’m starting to realize that networking is just a way of creating professional relationships. That it’s not evil. I think participating in social media woke me up to this idea, because I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of businesspeople on Twitter, and to my surprise, they were just people; fun people that are willing to help out and have conversations. Now, networking in person doesn’t sound so bad.

    Anyways, I can’t be the only person who had a jaded view of professional networking, so I figured I would share this. Maybe other people will read this and figure it out sooner than I did.


    • Tom, I had the exact same view about networking that you did! Thanks for sharing the tip. I think there are evil networking groups, just like anything else. So focus on your industry organizations until you’re comfortable deciding what makes evil and what makes good.

  • This is an excellent article and I will keep these tips in mind!


  • Jeannie Andresen

    Gini, great post! Extremely happy I opened it with your teaser headline of “I’m not going to tell you what this is about!”
    Great advice, and love how you mentioned the DePaul lecture I was a part of 🙂

    • Jeannie, I was thinking about how hard you guys worked to make that guest lecture. Blog about tree frogs!! 🙂

  • Thanks Gini. All good suggestions. Have you heard of a website called It’s a personal career support solution with a big focus on college students and universities. I recommend it for my college students for all the reasons you mentioned. Keep up the great posts. Scott

  • This SO hit the spot. I’m teaching a course on Online Communications this year to a bunch of 19 year olds. Suddenly I have another podcast to add to the “reading” list.

    Loved this discussion.

    • Thanks Jon! I hope the podcast is helpful for your students.

  • Erin Adler

    I’m a recent graduate that was able to have so many wonderful opportunities come by with some work and a little luck.

    One thing I would recommend is to contact previous work or intern supervisors. A simple hello and asking the person about them while you let them know you are graduating soon and are job searching. They might have advice, contacts, or an opportunity for you.

    Another thing is to not be afraid to ask questions and talk with your parent’s friends or your neighbors. Maybe even go to that neighborhood block party or Christmas party, you would usually avoid. I wasn’t always aware of the great advice they would have or work these people do daily. You can learn about so many different professions or career paths and possibly meet their contacts. It never hurts to meet more people that can help you along the way. The best part is being able to return the favor back someday!

    • Erin, GREAT tips! And I always tell the story about you when I speak. I’m speaking at an event with 300 or so people there and you walk up to me, introduce yourself, and start a conversation as if it were just the two of us in the room. I’ve always been super impressed by that and it’s a great lesson for everyone!

  • Gini,

    Any particular reason the title limits post to students and young professionals? This stuff is good for anyone not already converted. Never too late to learn something.

    • Barry, very good point. I positioned this toward young professionals because that’s what we discussed during the podcast. But you’re right – it works for any professional.

  • Great post. I was wondering if you had looked into schools that are doing things right in preparing students for the business world that awaits?

    If not, I’d look into the program I went to back in Winnipeg (Martin’s home town) at Red River College called Creative Communications. This joint program with the U of W is designed to provide a foundation in marketing, advertising, PR, journalism, and broadcast.

    This program has embraced social media and the fully understands the benefits outlined in the article above and I belief they are doing a great job of communicating that to the students.

    As an example, every student must have a smart phone, every student must have a blog and other SM properties, and the school has gone as far as providing iPads to students. In my humble opinion it’s one of the schools doing it right.

    I just thought if you were ever interested in talking to a school embracing the very things you are talking about here RRC would be a great place to start.

    Great article.

    • Dustin, the genesis of our recording this certain segment of InsidePR is because Martin is teaching his social media class and wanted some ideas. So we know he’s doing something right!

  • Great tips for young professionals! I also started a blog to document my experiences at work and school and I am loving it! Documenting my experiences actually makes me learn so much more and I am so glad I started to blog!

  • Hi Gini

    Really pleased I stumbled upon this article – you have some great points really valuable to new Uni leavers.

    I am managing a blog ( which has a focus on supporting (UK) graduates entering the job market during these tough market conditions. Your post would be an excellent addition! Would you mind very mcuh if we took the main body of this and posted it – obviously accredited to you plus with a link directly back to here?

    I’d be intersted to hear your thoughts.

    Also, completely agree about networking on and offline. This all builds your reputation which is vital, not just at the beginning but throughout your career.


    • Beth, I would love it if you use this post in your blog! And thanks for telling me you came here from StumbleUpon. That means our master plan is beginning to work!!

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  • This is really helpful tips for graduating students. It’s like words of wisdom for us. Thanks!