As college seniors count down the days of their traditional educational career, they should be counting how many influential lunches they have on the books. As the class of 2014 preps by accepting job offers and getting sized for their cap and gown, they should be willing to make a small investment in time and money by breaking bread with some people that can make or break their longer term career. Ahhh, students are on a tight budget though… well, the $150 you would spend on seven lunches is a drop in your “student loan bucket” that might pay more dividends then some of the five digit semesters you paid for!
The top “peer” at your future employer
Great, you just got accepted at your first “Real World” employer. As you look to finish up finals and prep to get a head-start on your career, who better to learn from than one of the top younger associates that you will be working with. Pick their brain on how they got off to a fast start with the company and what they wish they have done differently. The most powerful mentors are those that are far enough ahead to motivate but close enough (in age/experience/income) to relate. Who better to learn from than the all-star that was recently in your shoes.
Your new boss
Now that you took out the young gun, invite your new manager or boss to lunch. Now you may be thinking that THEY should be taking YOU out to lunch, but I think this gesture is uncommon and will go a long way. Use the lunch to build the relationship, learn about things that the interview process didn’t include and maybe introduce your Motivation Manual (an article I wrote about last week). It might even impress the new boss if you told him or her that you have already connected with the aforementioned young-gun all-star!
A hiring manager at a company that rejected you
How courageous are you? If you applied to a job that you really wanted and you ended up getting rejected, eat the humble pie and ask the “rejecter” or someone in that company that interviewed you to lunch. Drop the ego and learn why they didn’t choose you so you know the areas you can develop. You will stand out among all the other graduates that were turned down. After lunch make sure you keep the communication lines open. Remember, the race is long!!!
The person you liked the least on campus
If you thought asking someone who said NO to offering you a job was weird, then you probably think this one is too. Think of the person that you cared for the least or annoyed you the most throughout your college years and ask to take that person to lunch. Exercise your growth and maturity muscle and get to know this person better, understand your differences (if you blatantly didn’t like each other) and learn from their perspective. You can learn a ton about yourself from this lunch and forge the most unlikely relationship you thought possible… so go ahead… message that person to lunch- (or maybe a stiff drink!)
The most connected faculty or director on campus
While you are still paying thousands to the university, make sure you solidify relationships with professors or directors that have “real world” contacts. Keep in touch with these people after you walk across the stage as they often have a bit of influence with employers that are always trying to recruit on campus.
Top notch alumni in the industry you want to get into
Who is the “legendary” alum that works in the field you want to dedicate your career to? Book the lunch right around graduation time via social media or get their contact information from professors that kept in touch (or career services). Simply say you want to introduce yourself to them over a quick lunch, gain their perspective on breaking through in the career and offer any help possible in terms of what students are learning about on campus about their field. Make sure you do your research and know a lot about this person before the lunch. After the lunch, make sure you follow up with a hand written thank you note and then book “check ins” every six months on your calendar to keep in touch with this person!
Yup… it might be that time where YOU pick up the tab for mom and dad if you are fortunate enough to have them in your life. Start with a thank you. Their parenting will never conclude but often, post graduation is where you can turn to them as a friend too. Find out what they think your strengths are and what THEY think you will excel in going forward into your career. They probably know you better than any professor, career services director or hiring manager… and even though they may have dispensed advice to you for 22 years, listen this time with sincere intent!
Your college experience is just as much about relationships as it is text books and dissertations. As you enter this exciting time of your life start cementing the relationships that can help you and your long term growth!
Eddy Ricci, Jr., has been labeled as “the emerging expert in developing Gen Y sales professionals” by the chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler and is also noted as “understanding what motivates Gen Y sales teams. He is on my radar and should be on yours” by international speaker and NY Times bestselling author, Erik Qualman. Eddy is the author of The Growth Game: A Millennial’s Guide to Professional Development and serves as the director of a unique training and development collaborative platform that services financial planning firms in the northeast where he has arguably worked with more Gen Y financial professionals than anyone in the country over the past four years. He is the founder of The Growth Game, LLC. ,a professional development company with a focus on building sales and leadership programs.
“After You Frame Your Diploma, You Must Read Ricci’s The Growth Game!”- Ben Newman, international speaker, Professional Sports and Executive speaker, and best selling author