As we reflect on what it means to bring your “whole self” and your “authentic” being to the workplace, I encourage students to lead with curiosity and openness. Through this lens you will find your place in the world of work and will be able to make a meaningful contribution. You are much more than a “brand” and I urge you not to limit yourself in this way. Don’t reduce your capacity and potential to a tagline!
Students face a lot of stress and pressure to be authentic and real in today’s world. I deeply appreciate this mission, but it can be difficult to figure out who our true, authentic selves are, as we tend to discover this as a result of experience. As students, when it comes to the workplace, your experience may be limited. So how do you know “how to show up” and who your “authentic” self might be in this space? You can and should do research and informational interviews to discover the foundations of different company cultures and reflect on that information. Then, stay true to yourself. Don’t assume some kind of persona to match whatever TikTok post is trending or buy into the narrative that some Instagram or YouTube hack is sending. Instead, look to your own inner landscape.
What employers and alumni tell me is they want curious, open, adaptable learners, ready to tackle projects. Your capacity to listen, research, ask informed questions, and apply what you’ve learned is what makes you a great teammate and defines the impression you make in the workplace. Be curious. Seek to meet new people and be open to new opportunities and insights. Bring your uniquely HUMAN skills to your work. In the era of Artificial Intelligence this is so important and powerful.
It is the actions you take and the choices you make that build your work identity over time. How do you adapt to change? How do you take in feedback and constructive criticism from your manager? How do you support and pitch in to help your team? Work is not a competition. Remember, once you’ve landed the internship or job, you are on the same team as the members of the hiring committee!
Employers, recruiters, and alumni also want new hires to bring their ideas and values to the workplace. So, understanding the HOW and WHY of the actions you take in the workplace is important. Identifying your own North Star—the guiding light of your values—will help you make authentic choices, define your boundaries, and advocate for change as you get to know your team.
In summary, here are 4 great ways to show up in interviews and in your future workplace:
- Be curious
- Be open
- Know your values
- Make choices and take actions that demonstrate your values
There is no need to limit yourself to a single, specific brand. You are an ever-growing and evolving human contributor!
As you continue to identify your values and seek out companies where you might like to work, schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor to develop a personalized plan to navigate the job and internship search process.