Informal Mentors: Friends You Never Knew You Had!
Ben Woodward
May 6, 2019
Informal Mentors: Friends You Never Knew You Had!
Growing up, we depend on mentors to teach us life skills and prepare us to stand on our own two feet. It starts with our parents, maybe an older sibling, grandparents, and then teachers. All of us can remember the most important lessons they taught us… where they succeeded, and where they made mistakes. My father taught me to go the extra mile and that nothing comes free. My mother taught good manners, and to care for the people around me. My sister taught me how to succeed academically and get into good schools. Now at 26, it is sometimes easy to be arrogant – “I don't need help” and “I know what I'm doing” are thoughts that cross my mind all too often. via GIPHYNo doubt, you have expertise and you are probably someone others look up to. However, no one ever stops developing, and you can always learn something from somebody. As you continue in your career, start looking for informal mentors who can help you grow. Here are five characteristics of a great mentor.1. They possess skills you aspire to obtainA mentor does not have to be someone in your place of work, and does not have to be older or senior to you. Often, a great mentor has a skill they are willing to teach you; such as writing, networking, public speaking, etc. If you identify someone who is great at a skill you would like to develop, ask him or her to teach you. 2. They are respectedA good mentor has to be someone people look up to, not just as a worker, but also as a person. Being good at your job is important, but that can be undermined by the personality of the individual. Ensure that people respect your new mentor. via GIPHY3. They take time out of their day to help othersDo not invest your time in someone who does not reciprocate. Not everyone is helpful because of the demands their time or lack of enthusiasm. Find a mentor who is willing to invest in you and roots for you to succeed.4. They don't sugar-coat There are few people more valuable in your life than those who tell you what you do not want to hear. A great mentor is someone who is willing to tell you what you do wrong and work with you to fix it.via GIPHY5. They understand confidentiality A mentor is someone you should be able to confide in. Do not choose a mentor who gossips, or is in a position where they have to report certain details. For example, if you are facing a cross roads in your career, a mentor outside of your current place of work could be helpful to give you honest and confidential advice. Finally, no matter how far you are in your career, you can learn from someone. Look for great mentors in your career and be humble enough to seek their guidance. via GIPHY
Be your boss’ go-to
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
April 22, 2019
Be your boss’ go-to
About a week ago, a guest lecturer came to work to teach about management. The advice he gave was incredible, and I can confidently say that as a young professional, my attitude about work has significantly changed. Although I cannot share the management lecture in its entirety, I'll share one idea which has stayed with me. The secret to becoming the go-to woman or man is anticipation. In other words, if you think ahead and preemptively meet the needs of your supervisor you will set yourself apart from your peers almost immediately. So here are three ways to become the Robin to your boss' Batman. via GIPHY1. Understand how your tasks and responsibilities are linked to their larger objectives. Usually, the work your supervisor is engaged in will be one level above the tasks you are engaged in. If you are the one drafting the memo, your boss is probably the one who will be presenting it to their boss. Or if you are organizing a database, your supervisor may be taking the data to create a visual aid for a client. When you are aware of where your smaller task fits into the larger goal, you and your boss can cooperate more definitively with one another. This will take you from assistant to partner in the mind of your supervisor. 2. Prepare your work as if it is going to be published. via GIPHYAlways remember that your supervisor's job is to delegate tasks to you. Your responsibility is to execute these tasks flawlessly. For instance, if you write reports for your supervisor, write them as if they are going directly to print. Treat the draft as if it will be published the moment you submit it to your boss. Make it easy for them to trust your work. Proofread what you write.Ask a trusted colleague for a second eye, and then, when you are sure that your work is perfect…PROOFREAD it AGAIN. 3. Get to know your bossOf course, it should be a given that you must always interact with your boss in a professional manner. I am not recommending that you necessarily go out for drinks with your boss or analyze their social media pages. I am suggesting that you integrate your work into their routines. If you know your boss checks emails at 9:30am every morning, make certain you have sent in the most important work to them by that time. Or if you know they do most of their meeting prep after lunch, hand them your findings on their way back to the desk. Even if Batman is the greatest D.C. hero of all time…he would be nowhere without Robin. Your boss knows you work hard. Anticipating your boss' needs will show you care about their success and the success of the organization. And that makes you a hero too. via GIPHY
5 Ways to Ease Your Commute
Ben Woodward
April 4, 2019
5 Ways to Ease Your Commute
You wake up on a Tuesday morning, around 7:00 am. After snoozing your alarm once, with all your might you drag yourself out of bed and get ready for the day. You just about have time for a quick breakfast before you make your way to work. You arrive at the metro… it's busy. Waiting at the platform, you see countless competitors arrive for your rightful place on the busy metro carriage. You miss the train because someone needed the extra space for their bike!Does this sound like your commute to work? I must admit, I'm a little spoiled these days. I have had jobs that required me to drive and then catch multiple trains. In the winter I remember scraping the ice off my windshield with one hand and attempting to eat my cereal with the other. I vowed, never again. Today, I live just a 5-minute walk from work.via GIPHYA difficult commute to work was not conducive to productivity when I arrived. I was either in a bad mood or I'd spend the first part of my morning drying off from the rain, or changing into my work clothes because it was too hot to wear a suit. While not everyone has the option of living close to work, especially in the city, there are ways to improve your commute.1. Go to bed and wake up earlierProbably easier said than done. We're all guilty of hitting the snooze button one too many times or binge-watching The Office hours after we should have gone to sleep. If you can reorganize your routine however, you'll find yourself much happier in the long run.More time in the morning means you can eat a full breakfast (I recommend breakfast tacos), you won't have to rush and risk forgetting something important, and you may even have time to walk. Also, the earlier you leave, it's more likely you will beat rush hour.via GIPHY2. Stop somewhere on your way to workTreat yourself before you arrive at work in the morning. If you give yourself something small to look forward to, it'll give you more incentive to leave the house on time and improve your mood.This can be something as simple as buying a fancy latte, taking 20 minutes to read, or even walking your dog a little longer. Whatever brings you joy in the morning, give yourself the time to do it. 3. Negotiate with your boss to start earlier and finish earlierIf your commute is really causing you difficulty because you live far away or there's temporary maintenance on your route, ask your boss if you can make different arrangements. Many organizations are open to flexible working hours, providing you have proven yourself a reliable employee. It may be that you can start an hour earlier and finish an hour earlier to avoid rush-hour. 4. Entertain yourself Find a way to entertain yourself during the stressful morning commute. More and more people extoll the virtues of podcasts as an opportunity to learn and entertain themselves. For others, music or reading is the answer.Whatever brings you joy in the morning, use it to ease the stress of your commute and put yourself in the right frame of mind before work. via GIPHY5. Not forgetting your commute home Somehow the commute home doesn't feel as bad because you're heading home to dinner rather than a busy workday. Your evening commute can be tedious however, especially when you spend it in traffic. Whenever I go to a sports event or concert, where many people are battling to get out of the same venue, I have always used the opportunity to go to a bar or have an evening stroll to avoid waiting around. By the time I decide to go home, my journey is far easier.I recommend the same with your commute home. If the rush hour is making your journey miserable, take extra time to run errands nearby, grab coffee with coworkers, or go to a gym near the office. By the time you have done that, your journey will be much smoother. Too many people consider their commute the worst part of their day. It doesn't have to be!
The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of the Professional Conference
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
March 25, 2019
The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of the Professional Conference
I recently attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for the very first time. It was truly a unique experience, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Conferences, on their own, can be great experiences. If you know how to approach a large professional event, you can leverage almost any conference in your favor. Let's examine some “DO's” and “DON'Ts” you should keep in mind before, during, and after a professional event or conference. Before the conference… DO…Plan ahead. Take the time to conduct research about the event you will be attending.via GIPHYYou should know almost everything you can reasonably know about the event. Be aware of every speaker in attendance, where they will be speaking, and for how long. If the event will feature booths with sponsors, vendors, and organizations, you should know which ones will be there and estimate how much time you should spend interacting with them. Be conscious of the venue itself. The location, the typical climate, or chance of inclement weather while you are in the area and prepare your wardrobe accordingly. Here is a strategy tip: Imagine yourself as a member of the “Events” staff at the event, and consider what you might expect them to know. During the conference…DO…Get plenty of rest. via GIPHYThe conference lifestyle is a true grind. The programming can begin early in the morning and continue into the late hours of the evening. This aspect of the typical conference schedule has pros and cons. Pro: the longer days mean you have more time to learn from speakers and network with other conference attendees. Con: it is a long day. DO…Remember to be flexible. The plans you made will change. Perhaps you had planned to attend a program that the conference is offering, but a connection you made after an earlier session would like to grab a coffee during that time. You must then make a decision based on the plans you have made thus far. Your plan is a guideline to keep you from getting lost in the endless possibilities the event presents to you. DO NOT…Make a fool of yourself. Nobody wants to be the person who leaves the event with a ton of business cards, but not an ounce of dignity. As long as the conference is on, YOU are “on.” Quite simply, during the event you will encounter scores of people. Some could be potential employers, colleagues, and perhaps most importantly, friends. You do not want to lose their respect before you have even met them! Any time you have food or drink at the conference pace yourself and remember your manners. Dress to impress. Wearing the appropriate attire reflects well on you as a professional. It means that you respect and honor those around you, it shows that you think about the impressions you make on others, but most importantly, it shows that you respect yourself. After the conference…DO…Follow up with new contacts you made at the conference. Send an email thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. Mention a topic you were talking about and ask if they would be willing to continue the conversation at some later date. DO NOT…Delay. Follow up with new contacts within 48 hours of meeting them. via GIPHYTry to keep all of your new connections alive. The best way to do this is to remain prominent in the mind of the person you connected with. So get going! Find a conference that interests you and make it the most productive week of your professional life.
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
Carol Wehe Cocks
February 22, 2019
LI Employee Assaulted at UC Berkeley
“On Tuesday, February 19, one of our employees, Hayden Williams, was violently assaulted on University of California-Berkeley campus while working to recruit conservative student leaders in his capacity as Field Representative for The Leadership Institute. Hayden was invited to campus by Berkeley students who were part of the local Turning Point USA chapter.This event is shocking, but it is not isolated. Conservative and libertarian students have faced violence and intimidation for sharing their political philosophy on campus from coast to coast in this country. Unfortunately, the Leadership Institute reports on incidents like Hayden's all too often on our news site CampusReform.org.Violence has no place in the public policy process -- and it should never be the response to students who exercise their right to free speech. The Leadership Institute calls on the University of California-Berkeley to identify and hold accountable the assailant to the full extent of the law.”– Bryan Bernys, Vice President of Campus Programs at the Leadership Institute.
International Travel Builds Perspective for Two Interns
Grayce McAllister
February 11, 2019
International Travel Builds Perspective for Two Interns
When you look for learning opportunities or ways to expand your skills and broaden your knowledge base, it can be daunting to determine what is most valuable and where to spend your time. Two of Leadership Institute's Spring 2019 interns decided they would spend time abroad in 2018. As you read about their experiences, see you can use international travel to broaden your skills.Abbey Bongiorno, Leadership Institute's Development program intern, spent the fall of 2018 studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain.GrayceMcAllister, Leadership Institute's International Training intern, spent the summer of 2018 interning abroad in Haifa, Israel.Q. What did you learn in your study abroad?A. Abbey: “I learned so much from my study abroad, I could write an entire trilogy. I have gained an unbelievable amount of independence -- even though my school was a ten-hour drive from home, being in another country is even further out of anyone's comfort zone. Not only did I have to live and go to school with strangers, but I also had to speak a language that wasn't my own.”A. Grayce: “By interning in Israel, there were many experiences that challenged me, to see things through a new light. One of the first things I learned, is to explore and have an intuitive mind, open to discovery. Especially in Israel, there are many historical, Biblical, and current sites of great interest that await detection. “By interning for a company in Israel, I was able to learn business and interpersonal communication skills that would not have otherwise crossed my mind. It taught me to be more aware, observant, and eager to try new things. “Travelling internationally allows you to find out more about other places, but it also allows you to discover more about yourself, the interests you have, or challenge some of your preconceived ideas about other cultures.”Q. What cultural differences struck you in your travels?A. Grayce: “Israel was a fantastic place to visit and realize how awesome I have it here in the United States. Continually, we see there are many problems in the United States, but if we look at Israel, they are under a constant threat of being overtaken or attacked. “When I visited a Kibbutz near the Gaza border, the guide told us that the townspeople have seventeen seconds from time of missile launched to the time it lands. During this time, they must find shelter. Therefore, there are bomb shelters within close proximity to everything; but the item that struck me as most powerful is the attitude people have about the shelters. “As you can see in the picture, Israelis enjoy where they live and would not change it. They look for the best in their situation and therefore, paint the bomb shelters to fit into the specific area of the town. That made me appreciate how safe I am here in the US and realize that when you can't change the circumstances, your attitude is what counts.”A. Abbey: “I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to study abroad. Many of my mentors told me the one thing they most regret in their lifetimes (not just their undergraduate career) was not studying abroad. “I met so many amazing people, learned about and lived in different cultures, and really grew to appreciate where I'm from. Spain itself has only had its current constitution for 40 years. Learning about the workings of another country's laws was a real eye-opener.”
5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
January 23, 2019
5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Have you ever been lost? This is not a euphemism for anything. I am using the word “lost” in its most literal sense. It's that moment when you have walked for over an hour, and somehow you end up exactly where you began. Walking in circles, confused and disoriented. Such moments are characterized by a feeling of helplessness. When you start a new job, you may experience moments where you feel confused. You may feel lost. In those moments, one of the best things that you can do is to ask for directions. Most people in the workplace are eager to help you succeed. However, mentors are more likely to help a self-starter, or somebody who demonstrates they are willing to take initiative. So here are a few questions your supervisors want you to ask them. 1. “Who in the office do you recommend I get to know?”via GIPHYThis question indicates two things. First, it shows you have a desire to get acquainted with colleagues, which immediately categorizes you as a team player. Second, this question indicates that you have tact. If you do not know every person in your workplace, introducing yourself to a shortlist of folks will make for an office space with more friends and mentors who know you. This is the best way to establish yourself as a valuable member of the team.2. Following a project submission, ask: “How can I improve my work?” One of the best ways to encourage constructive criticism is to provide work worth critiquing. When you have completed work satisfactorily, open yourself up to suggestions from your supervisor. Even if some of the advice seems a bit harsh, remember that five minutes of brutal honesty may save you five years of professional embarrassment due to avoidable errors. 3. “How would you like to be informed of my progress?” Your supervisor is busy. You probably would not have your job if they were not continuously preoccupied. With this in mind, consider establishing timetables that suit your supervisor's needs as well as your own. 4. “Are you facing any challenges with which I can assist?” via GIPHYAsking this question shows them you understand the fact that your supervisor is busy and you wish to reduce their overall workload. It does not matter what you help them with, they will be glad to let you know what projects they are involved in. This also provides you with an opportunity to “earn your stripes” and demonstrate your abilities. *Remember, under-promise and over-perform.*5. “Where do you see this department going in the next year?” via GIPHYThis is a unique question to ask your supervisor. Essentially, this question demonstrates you are committed to the long-term success of your department. When supervisors see you are truly interested in the teams success overall, they will want to include you in their journey. This will give you a window into the past, present, and future of the department and perhaps the organization as a whole. You will have a better understanding of where you fit into their story, and this will keep you from getting lost in your own.
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
Ben Woodward
January 7, 2019
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
At the beginning of 2018, my boss and I planned a number of goals for the coming year. The competitive streak in me enjoys targets; they're an opportunity to exceed expectations and push yourself to excel.By the end of 2018, the Careers Division had significantly exceeded the targets set. We were thrilled.Following the success of 2018, the question remains, how does the Division continue to improve in 2019? By continuing to increase the numbers of people who learn essential skills, but also to never allow a focus on numbers to hinder quality. It's important for you and I to do what we do well.via GIPHYAs you start to think about your own career goals in 2019, I encourage you to not only think about how to stand out but to increase the quality of your output in 2019. Here are three ways you can improve the quality of your work.1. Listen to feedback and act on it.Whether it's from your boss, a colleague, or your clients and customers, feedback is precious. If you're fortunate enough to have people around you who are frank and give you honest feedback, don't allow your ego to prevent you from accepting it. If you don't have naturally frank people giving you feedback, invite and encourage feedback. It's vital to seek improvement in everything you do.When you get feedback, make an effort to note it down and figure out how you can act upon it. For example, if you organize an event, send surveys out and make it your mission to communicate how you've acted on the feedback to the person who gave it.via GIPHY2. Identify talent on your team and use it.Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your team is a critical skill, whether you're the manager or not. When working on projects, share out responsibilities based on what aspects of the work you and your colleagues will excel at. If you have strengths, offer to apply them to the team as a whole and not just your projects. Likewise, if you have weaknesses, you can ask your colleagues to assist. You can also ask your colleagues to help train you in the aspects of your job you find confusing.via GIPHY3. Allow yourself time to make improvements.Improving the quality of your work takes time whether it's through training or effective planning. Assign yourself time in the day for quality control. For example, if you take surveys from an event you ran, write up a summary of the feedback -- what went well and what didn't and how you intend to act on it. Submit the summary to your boss, so you have accountability.Remember, knowing what you do well is just as important as knowing your weaknesses. If you know what you do well, you can apply the same tactics to other projects.via GIPHYFinally, if there are any skills you'd like to improve in the New Year, the Leadership Institute has many training opportunities for you to learn to be more effective in your career: https://www.leadershipinstitute.org/Training/?Training=Career.
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
Carol Wehe Cocks
January 2, 2019
Leadership Institute Trained 14,687 in 2018
The Leadership Institute (LI) celebrated the close of 2018 with 14,687 trained. Since 1979, LI has trained 209,074 students.In 2018, LI trained its 200,000th student at a Youth Leadership School held at LI's Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, VA.Seventy-nine percent of LI's 2018 students were trained outside LI's headquarters. The Institute conducted training programs in 43 states. Leadership Institute graduates serving in the 116th Congress include three U.S. Senators and 26 members of the House of Representatives. LI's Campus Leadership Program finished 2018 with 2,111 active conservative student groups. 52 of these groups were student publications. LI's Campus Reform Online attracted 4,733,130 unique visitors and received 11.9 million page views in 2018 compared to 11.7 Million page views in all of 2017, 10.2 million page views in all of 2016, 5.7 million page views in all of 2015, 4.6 million page views in all of 2014, 5.8 million page views in all of 2013, and 2.8 million page views in all of 2012.CampusReform.org students, staff, and stories were featured 476 times on local and national television programs in 2018 compared to 216 placements in all of 2017.The Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program published stories by 104 student journalists. Campus Correspondents investigate and report on liberal bias, abuse, and indoctrination on college campuses nationwide. The Institute looks forward to its 40th anniversary in 2019.For a full report of Leadership Institute's 2018 successes, click here.
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
Ben Woodward
November 21, 2018
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
I love Thanksgiving. Being from the UK, I had not celebrated this wonderful holiday until moving to Washington, D.C. two years ago. The sentiment of this holiday is important; being with family, learning to appreciate the opportunities we have, and of course, forgetting about calories for the day!In your professional life, the sentiment of coming together is important too. Professionals depend heavily on each other as do organizations to assist each other to accomplish mutual goals. Your ability to build coalitions can make you an asset; here are four steps to building coalitions. 1. When you start your next project, identify potential coalition partnersThe best way to do this is to break down the various aspects of your project. Figure out the steps you need to take to complete the project and dimensions of the job you can do yourself. For work you can achieve internally, you probably want to avoid burdening others. For work where you require another person's expertise, first look internally within your organization before approaching partner organizations. Identify your coalition partner based on those who are most helpful, organizations closely aligned with yours, and professionals who you know you can work with. 2. Figure out what exactly what you need from your coalition partnerBefore you approach your coalition partner, know your ask. You want to avoid a situation where the coalition partner agrees to something without knowing exactly what is expected of them. You should be clear from the start.Some of the reasons you might approach a coalition partner are for their expertise, and perhaps they specialize in an area of policy you do not understand. Other times you might require the use of their workspace because it is in a prominent location. Most of the time when I approach a coalition partner it is for the use of their connections. Other times, you may want their sponsorship for an event. Whatever it is, make sure you know what you are looking for. via GIPHY3. Make a convincing pitch to your coalition partnerYou can do this by phone, email, or meeting (usually it depends on the nature and size of the ask). The key to a good pitch is a clear focus on how the partnership will benefit their organization. Perhaps you will sponsor one of their events in exchange; you'll give them name recognition, it doesn't cost them anything, you'll provide them with an email list, etc. When making your pitch, lay out a clear plan, timeline, budget, whatever your coalition partner needs to assist you. It's essential that you are easy to work with so that organizations want to help you again in the future. Also, be ready to answer questions or follow up with relevant information. If your ask requires a financial commitment, prepare to negotiate. via GIPHY4. Follow through with your plan and keep a clear line of communication If your coalition partner agrees to assist you, open a group chat on whatever platform you like best where you can share information and list out the respective tasks and dates for completion. This will keep all parties updated on the progress of your mutual project. You may also wish to schedule more meetings and phone calls to strategize and keep everyone on track. Make sure you follow through on whatever you agreed to in exchange for their help. If you decided to pay them, share contact information, etc. you should be prompt in your delivery following the completion of your mutual project. Finally, coalitions are a necessary good in your professional life. They strengthen the bond between organizations and the movement is better off for it. Make sure you uphold your organization's reputation as a reliable partner.via GIPHY
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Ben Woodward
November 5, 2018
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Just over a year ago, I spoke on a panel about non-conventional jobs in the conservative movement. Our task: to educate young professionals about the wide variety of career paths available to them.I was struck by the quality of my fellow panelists and, even as a panelist myself, how much I could learn from them.Among the speakers was Andrew McIndoe, a highly-talented development professional from The Heritage Foundation who served as Director of Donor Relations. Andrew had previously served as Morton Blackwell's intern, an experience that helped shape his career for years to come.Today, Andrew is Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation, a position he was promoted to just a few weeks ago. Andrew is the youngest vice president in Heritage's history and, with his more than 50 staff, is responsible for ensuring Heritage has all the resources it needs to advance conservative principles in the public policy process.I asked Andrew what advice he could offer young people hoping to follow his example:“I'd tell people not to try and replicate the success of another professional; instead, strike out on your own. Exemplify a strong work ethic, eagerly take on any task that comes your way, and do what you say you are going to do.”Andrew went on to say much of his success was because he invested in his professional development. Andrew attended many Leadership Institute trainings, interned at several conservative organizations, and networked and followed up with everyone he met. Most importantly, Andrew worked hard to build his reputation as a results-oriented and dynamic leader.When asked what he most looked forward to in his new role, Andrew said he was excited to partner with thousands of Heritage donors, committed patriots who are deeply concerned about the future of their country. Andrew enjoys his role as a “philanthropic consultant,” who can hear the dreams and concerns of donors and match them with Heritage's vision and mission.Going back to his early days as a Leadership Institute intern, Andrew remembered how working for Morton influenced his career: “My favorite memories are the many meaningful interactions I had with Morton. Whether it was something as simple as going over a project, or more in-depth conversations, I always left with a pearl of wisdom. Morton exemplifies many of the qualities I try to embody as a leader; humble with a selfless commitment to conservative principles.”In addition to this, Andrew has fond memories of living in the Fred Sacher House, the National Fourth of July Conservative Soirée, and the long-lasting friendships he made. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his one-year-old daughter Lottie and his wife, Haley. The McIndoes live on Capitol Hill and mentor Heritage interns as Resident Advisors in the E.W. Richardson Building. Andrew enjoys spending time in the kitchen with food and wine, playing golf, and travelling. In addition, Andrew just received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and looks forward to bringing a business/private sector ethos into his new role.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
Rachel Gill
October 31, 2018
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
You made it through the grueling process that is the job search, you went to interview after interview until finally you landed the job!All your hard work doesn't stop there. It's a new company with new people and you want to make sure you make the right impression on the first day. Here are some tips to make your first day go as smoothly as possible.1. Eat breakfastYou don't know the office culture yet and you might find yourself taking a later lunch than usual. Avoid getting “hangry” and making a bad first impression by giving yourself enough time in the morning to eat breakfast. As a bonus, you'll hopefully be more awake by the time you reach the office!via GIPHY2. Dress to impressIt is much better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You don't want to show up looking too casual. When you put effort into your appearance it shows that you care how you represent yourself. Companies are interested in employees who will represent themselves and their company well. Being under-dressed will garner attention from your superiors for all the wrong reasons.via GIPHY3. Plan out your route to work ahead of timeMaybe you moved to a new city and there are new traffic patterns. Use Google Maps to estimate how much time it will take you to get to the office. You don't want to be late because you got lost. Your boss will probably be forgiving because it's your first day, but you don't want to start off wasting their time.via GIPHY4. Arrive EarlyBecause you planned out your route ahead of time, you can make sure to arrive early. It shows that you took the initiative to prepare and are ready to hit the ground running and get to work -- which is exactly what you were hired to do! Live by the rule that “10 minutes early is on time and on time is late.”5. Come prepared with your own materialsMost offices will have a desk set up with pens, notepads, and sticky notes. On the off chance that you aren't set up with these things right away, it's always better to have than have not. Make sure you have a notepad to take notes on. The first day is usually full of onboarding information, so be sure to write (or type) it all down.via GIPHYBonus: Ask questionsIn my first job in college, I learned that it was much better to ask questions than do something wrong. Your supervisor will appreciate you asking for clarification before you make a mistake that costs them time and/or the organization money.There's no guarantee that your first day will be a smashing success, but by implementing these tips you can give yourself a fighting chance. Most of the time that's all you'll need to crush your first day.via GIPHY
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
Matthew Patterson
October 29, 2018
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
“Do I work or go to college?” Most of us ask that tough question of ourselves at some point. However, there is a third option -- do both!via GIPHYNot many people pick this route, and for good reason. However, some people either don't have a choice or it becomes the preferred option with the increased financial support. Here are some benefits and costs of being a full-time employee and student you should consider:Pro: You will get a head start on other graduates! Many people wait to get started in their career or gain experience until after they graduate, and this can prevent them from achieving their desired job right away. Most employers look for both education and work experience.via GIPHYCon: A full-time school schedule and full-time workweek require good time management, especially when simultaneous. It can be a daunting task to find time to do all your school work while maintaining your work ethic on the job, which can lead to undue stress. Pro: Time Management! Once you get it down it can be one of your most valuable assets. Time management is one of the most fundamental and productive skills you can master, and nothing will do it like taking on two full-time obligations.via GIPHYCon: With papers, work projects, and assignments piling up, something will have to give and it's often your social life. This doesn't mean you won't be able to go out and have fun; you will have to put those time management skills to work and find time to cut loose!via GIPHYPro: You will have unique experience. Not many people work and go to school full time. As Robert Frost said, taking the road less travelled makes all the difference. When you are applying to your next job, being able to handle all this work will make you stand out as a motivated multitasker!Con: In the same way it's difficult to find time to go out and have fun, you can also find it difficult to cook a healthy meal or go to the gym. With proper planning and a 24-hour gym nothing is impossible, but it will take a bit more dedication than it would otherwise!As someone who chose to pursue a career and school at the same time, I can say for myself the pros far outweigh the cons. While I occasionally miss going out with my friends or sleeping in after a long day, the payoff is more than worth the temporary lack of comfort.via GIPHY
Balance a Busy Work Schedule with a Healthy Lifestyle
Ben Woodward
October 15, 2018
Balance a Busy Work Schedule with a Healthy Lifestyle
Since moving to Washington, D.C. just over two years ago, I have been in denial about my worst habits. You can probably relate; it is a poor diet, lack of exercise, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Why use a careers blog, however, to talk about health? Taking care of yourself is beneficial to your productivity in the workplace. A poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and excessive drinking can result in fatigue, reduced thought clarity, and higher stress levels. With a busy work schedule, it is easy to let your health slip, causing a vicious cycle. Here are three ways you can balance a busy work schedule and a healthy lifestyle.via GIPHYMeal Preparation Breakfast and dinner are less likely to be unhealthy because you have the distinct advantage of eating them at home. Often people make the mistake of either skipping these important meals or eating out due to lack of time or energy. Lunch is even trickier because it is the one meal you're almost guaranteed to eat at work. Often, this leaves you subject to the food served locally. It is rarely healthy for your body or your wallet. By preparing meals beforehand, you can control your meals and make healthy choices. If like me, you are too tired or lack time on weekdays, find an hour during the weekend to plan and execute your meals for the next five days. If at lunch you still want to join your colleagues, buy a soda with them but eat lunch at your desk in advance.via GIPHYGo to Bed at a Reasonable Hour A good night's sleep has many advantages. First, you will be far more energetic and productive at work if you are sufficiently rested. Beyond the obvious, by going to bed in good time, you will find it much easier to wake up earlier and allow yourself more time to eat breakfast, go to the gym, or arrive to work earlier and get a jump start on the day. If like me, you enjoy watching television and surfing your phone before bed, you should consider reading instead. You are not going to be roped into one YouTube clip after another or be sucked into a Facebook debate. By reading instead, you will relax your mind and find it much easier to fall asleep at the intended hour. Avoid Temptation The workplace is an obstacle course of temptation. Whether it's food left over from an event, a colleague who bakes, a happy hour, or a special occasion, there is always something! This is where your previous meal preparation will come in most helpful. If you have food scheduled or something to appease your appetite like a healthy snack, you are less likely to indulge. The other key here is communication. Make sure your colleagues are aware of your intention to live a healthier lifestyle; they can hold you accountable rather than be part of the problem. via GIPHYBy improving your lifestyle, you will see the results in your work. Your career requires you to be your best every day, so make sure you are setting yourself up to succeed. via GIPHY
Capital in the Capital
Matthew Patterson
October 1, 2018
Capital in the Capital
Do you want to work in the Capitol or Capital? Many people often confuse the two words; with one letter of difference, it's an easy mistake. Whether you want to work in the capitol building or capital city, you should know about the different types of capital, each of which has a unique impact on your life.Social CapitalYour network is your net worth. We have all heard this phrase or a variation of it, particularly if you are in the D.C. area, and it cannot be truer. Not only does knowing more people expand your available opportunities when searching for a job, it can also make you more valuable to the job you have now. If you can pick up the phone and completely bypass the chain of command, you will be invaluable.via GIPHYOne of the most common issues people run into is how to effectively build your social capital and expand it outside of the workplace. One thing you should remember is that everyone you want to have a connection with is a person too. They have (fairly) normal lives, going out to eat, shopping, to the park, so on and so forth. Meeting people at these places, outside the office, can help lead to a great network in the Capital.Human CapitalLiving in the Capital can be a change of pace for those not used to the D.C. scene. As someone coming from a small town in East Tennessee, it was certainly a change for me. One aspect of your capital that can be left on the back burner during this transition is your human capital.via GIPHYYour human capital is your health, and with all the great places to grab a bite to eat or get a drink, it can be easy to not pay this much mind! However, those couple nights out and networking lunches can catch up with you. To help with this, D.C. offers many ways to help with your day to day health, including parks, trails, health food stores, and too many gyms to choose from! Its also important for your human capital to get some adequate sleep; you should never fall asleep at your office because of that Capital night life!Financial CapitalIf there is one thing everyone living in D.C. can agree on, it's not cheap! With some of the highest rent and cost of living in the country, it can be easy to find yourself on a strapped budget. It's important to save money, but up in the Capital it can be hard to justify putting that capital back in the bank.via GIPHYThe little things can help make this a lot easier such as taking the metro or bus instead of Uber, or shopping at Trader Joes instead of Whole Foods. Sure, it might not be as glamorous, but the pay off will be when you're not worried about those plane tickets home or that anniversary with your significant other.
Four Tips to Land a Paid Campaign Position
Matthew Patterson
September 14, 2018
Four Tips to Land a Paid Campaign Position
Full disclosure… political campaigns aren't glamorous; they require long hours, low or no pay, a thick skin, and a lot of stress.But if you can handle all that, working on a political campaign can be one of the most exciting and rewarding careers in the conservative movement. You'll travel, talk to new people about your cause or candidate, be part of a dynamic and close team, and if you win, you'll effect change!Many conservatives hope to work on campaigns, but most of us can't afford to go without salary. With only a handful of paid jobs to go around, I'll give you four tips to land a paid position on a campaign.1. Strike while the iron is hotTo get involved in a campaign, try to find one early in the election cycle. By looking for a campaign early on, you can narrow down your pick of what kind of race you want to work, and in what capacity.Check Election Commission filings to find which candidates are raising funds for the race. The more money a campaign has, the more it can pay. While it may be more exciting to work for an underdog, unless they are self-funding or raising comparable amounts to their opponents, it may be difficult to get that paycheck. via GIPHYThe main advantage to finding a campaign early is that they likely don't have all their positions filled, which means they are hiring!2. Humble YourselfUnless you have previous election experience, or extremely relevant experience, the campaign may not bring you on immediately for a paid position.However, by offering to come on as a volunteer or intern you can show the staff and the candidate that you believe in their campaign and are willing to get your hands dirty. This will go a long way when time comes to fill permeant positions, so hold tight and pull your weight.via GIPHY3. Make your intentions knownCampaigns are generally tight with their budgets, spending every dollar where it will have the most impact. If the campaign team does not know you are seeking a paid position, it may never come.Be honest with the campaign manager, let them know you are seeking a paid role on the team. If you cannot afford to pay your bills, you won't be able to do much help for the campaign.By letting the campaign manager know your intentions, it will allow them to give you more specific tasks to gauge your aptitude for your desired role. This will help show the campaign staff that your pay would be money well spent.via GIPHY4. Always Be ClosingThere is no sleep during election season. Whether it's yard signs, flyers, events, or meetings, there is always an opportunity to get more votes.Always be closing on your goal, be the “3:00 AM type”.Be the person who will put out yard signs all night, walk in four different parades the next day, and still make it to that public speaking engagement that evening. Motivation and passion are what you must demonstrate to the campaign team.Make yourself vital, and that paid position won't be far behind!via GIPHY
LI Alumni Advice: Mariah Bastin – Never Stop Learning
Stuart Monk
August 27, 2018
LI Alumni Advice: Mariah Bastin – Never Stop Learning
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with one of Leadership Institute's alumni, Mariah M. M. Bastin, who now works as a Public Affairs Specialist at the Department of State. Mariah is both a graduate of LI's intern program and a former staff member, hired after finishing her internship. She shared with me some of the keys to her career success and some of the wisdom she has gained in her journey. First, you need to know something important about Mariah: she's a rockstar.By the time she was twenty-two, Mariah was fluent in three languages, earned a Master of International Affairs, and worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Considering that, you would think she would have gone right to the State Department out of graduate school, but she didn't.Mariah applied to a highly competitive program, the Presidential Management Fellows Program, and then packed her bags to fly to Washington, DC for the first time. The application process and subsequent placement took nearly two years.It was during that time Mariah learned about LI.Mariah had gotten involved in politics only in her last year of graduate school, so she didn't know much about the conservative movement when she arrived. I asked Mariah what drew her to the Leadership Institute and to apply to its intern program. For her, it was the opportunity to learn.“If you really want to learn and understand what the conservative movement is, not just kind of go through life claiming to be part of it, then LI is the place to go,” said Mariah.While at the Leadership Institute, Mariah interned in the Communications Trainings department. I asked her what she took away from that experience, and she said she learned a long time ago that everything comes down to communications: relationships, projects, life in general. In her internship, she learned how to communicate well and to teach others.Her advice for young professionals when it comes to communication: learn to write a proper email and use appropriate etiquette in person. Your first impression when meeting someone for coffee isn't your smile or handshake; it's the emails you sent to arrange the meeting, so learn to communicate well by email.Also, learn how to be cordial in all conversations. While you can share jokes and relax around some colleagues, some people expect you to be professional 24/7. It's important to know the difference.Mariah lives by the philosophy that everyone should be a lifelong learner. Something her parents taught her from a young age is that “there is always something to learn from an experience.” Everything you learn has an impact, even if you don't know how it will in the future.“Take things moment by moment, day by day, experience by experience.” Mariah did just that and now has her dream job, working at the State Department.The philosophy of lifelong learning is more than just gaining knowledge. It is about equipping yourself to thrive not just in the here and now but also in the future. Mariah's approach to life is to learn from everything: the great experiences, the bad ones, and all the small things in between. She continues to do that every day.I'll leave you with Mariah's final and most important piece of advice: “Always seek out where you can be of assistance and where you can make someone else's life easier, either professionally or personally.”The Leadership Institute (LI) has trained more than 200,000 activists, leaders, and students. Like Mariah, many of those graduates have gone on to do remarkable things.
Sail Through Your Phone Interview
Ben Woodward
August 20, 2018
Sail Through Your Phone Interview
With many great applicants applying to work in the conservative movement, more and more recruiters rely on phone interviews to save time and determine whom they want to meet in person. Many jobseekers overstress to the detriment of their preparation. However, if you have a phone interview, you already have reason to be happy; the recruiter would not waste their time if you did not show potential.For phone interviews, you don't have to worry about finding the location or presenting the right body language, and you can have all your notes laid out in front of you. Take it seriously, however, and prepare in the same ways you would for an in-person interview.via GIPHYBefore the Phone InterviewPreparation is everything! In the early stages of screening, the interviewer will expect you to establish why you're qualified for the role, an appreciation of the organization and its mission, and proof you're a normal human being.Research the organization's website, social media, annual reports, and recent news; use that information to establish why you're motivated to work for the organization. The recruiter will expect you to know the fundamentals of what the organization does and the contribution it makes to the movement.Research yourself. This might sound strange, but it's important to know your employment history and what you've accomplished in previous positions. This research will serve as your validation when asked why you're qualified for the job and what value you can create for the organization.Find a quiet place where you can lay out your notes, and not be disturbed. You should notify anyone who might interrupt that you're doing an interview. If you're so inclined, wear business attire to get in the right frame of mind.via GIPHYDuring the Phone Interview Answer the phone confidently as you would at work and introduce yourself. Take notes as the interviewer is speaking about the details of the interview and their name so you can use it in conversation. Listen carefully to the interviewer and be careful not to cut them off in conversation. When you speak, do so confidentially, and emphasize the tone of your voice to convey friendliness since the interviewer can't see you. Keep your answers succinct. If the interviewer has to cut you off, it probably means your answers are too long. Also, if you're asked a tough question, don't be afraid to ask for a moment to think about your answer. This shows you're conscientious and is far better than rushing in unprepared. Finally, at the end of your interview, you should be prepared with questions. Ask the interviewer their favorite thing about working for the organization and what the dynamics of your team would be like.After the Phone InterviewSend a thank you note to the interviewer. Immediately after your interview, write one and be sure to include details which evidence it was written personally for them, i.e., what you enjoyed about the interview. Have it in the mail that day. If you doubt the letter will get there on time, send an email.Play the waiting game. This is arguably the hardest part of an interview and can be frustrating if the recruiter takes too long. If there was no indication of a timeline given to you by the interviewer, send a polite email a week after the interview requesting a status update. If you receive no response, move on.Phone interviews can be hard, but if you know how to handle them, you'll easily impress recruiters and move on to the in-person interview. Good luck! via GIPHY
10 Myths of Leadership
Carmen Diaz
August 6, 2018
10 Myths of Leadership
Last year, 85% of employees reported dissatisfaction with their jobs, placing much of the blame on supervisors and bosses. The majority of Americans are unhappy with their superiors, yet the majority of employees are unwilling to change their circumstances and invest in their own professional development.Leadership becomes ineffective when it is mistakenly defined by title rather than conduct. Failing to recognize every person as an accountable leader leads to over-reliance on superiors, whether they're managers, coaches, or government officials.Too many brilliant and competent people don't pursue leadership roles because they think they don't fit the mold. It's time to redefine leadership and reveal the potential hiding behind these myths.Myth 1: Leaders aren't followersLeadership potential is often revealed in diligent followership. You can earn both respect and trust by being both a coach and a team player. via GIPHYMyth 2: The leader is the loudest person in the roomArrogance and ego are a recipe for short-term success. Don't earn the reputation of dominating conversation, bragging, or shouting people down.Myth 3: Employees aren't entrepreneurial You don't need to start your own business to apply entrepreneurial principles to your work. Always show initiative and guide decisions to contribute to the improvement and innovation of your organization.Myth 4: Extroverted leaders are preferredExtroverts are more likely to network and eagerly seek opportunity, resulting in the misconception that introverts are less desirable candidates. Introverts tend to be introspective and observant, naturally making them thoughtful listeners. These are valuable traits to managerial roles, which require conflict resolution and human resource management. Identify your comparative advantage to develop your own leadership skill and style.Myth 5: Leaders don't ask for helpSimple overseers are less likely to ask for help and perceive doing so as weakness, but competent leaders will delegate and show that they trust their team.via GIPHYMyth 6: I'm not qualified to be a leaderEarning multiple degrees and a wealth of influence are conventional ways to gain credibility, but they don't guarantee competent leadership. Leadership in practice, rather than degrees, proves you're qualified.Myth 7: Leaders know all the answersThe President of the United States needs an entire Cabinet of advisors. No one has all the answers.Myth 8: Leadership is determined by titleChief roles and managerial titles aren't available for everyone, but anyone willing to develop and act as a leader will be respected and considered as such.Myth 9: The leader's idea is bestAs managers move up the ladder, they become more reliant on others to focus on day-to-day operations, allowing the true leader to better specify areas for improvement and explore ideas for innovation.Myth 10: Leaders don't take breaksEven the most ambitious, competent, and enthusiastic leaders need time to relax. Constantly checking email during weekends and vacations is one habit likely to cause you to burn out.Leadership isn't limited to special roles or just reserved for specific personality types. The perfect opportunity isn't waiting behind an academic degree and new promotion.Wherever you are in your career, leadership is a skill, a practice, and a choice. via GIPHY
200,000th Conservative Trained
Eddie Stamper
July 15, 2018
200,000th Conservative Trained
This weekend, the Leadership Institute (LI) trained its 200,000th conservative activist at the National Youth Leadership School on July 15 at LI's Steven P.J. Wood Building in Arlington, Virginia.Since 1979, the Leadership Institute has worked to increase the number and effectiveness of youth activists in the public policy process. To achieve this goal, LI offers 47 types of training schools, workshops, and seminars; a free employment placement service; and a national field program that trains conservative students to organize campus groups.Shekinah Hollingsworth, LI's 200,000th graduate, is a Maryland Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. She studied political science at Salisbury University and works for the Black Conservative Federation.As an intern at The Heritage Foundation in 2016, Shekinah was asked to appear on Fox News about the “Pyramid of White Supremacy” used by a professor at her alma mater.She brought the same passion against liberal bias shown in this interview to the boot camp of politics, the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School. Shekinah and more than 130 other activists there learned best practices for organizing a youth-based campaign including tabling techniques, how to conduct a campus canvass, and how to recruit and retain volunteers.If you would like to join the ranks of Shekinah and thousands of other conservative activists, register to attend an LI training here.
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