Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

In the last few month, I've interviewed a bunch of potential job candidates that are interviewing at LinkedIn for marketing positions. All these interviews have reminded me about what it takes to set yourself up for success in a job interview. In my opinion, here are some of the things you can do that the most successful job seekers do to prepare for an interview.

job interview meme funny

Look for warm connections. Check LinkedIn to see if you have mutual connections with the interviewers. If you do, make sure to mention the connection in the interview, especially if it's a strong contact. This will make you more memorable and encourage your interviewer to reach out to them to get their thoughts on you.

Research the company. Do you  know what the company does? How they make money? What's the latest company news? Who is the CEO? I recommend in the days leading up to the interview that you set Google news alerts on the company. Also, reading the 10k, if it's a public company is a treasure trove of company specific information. Leverage Google search, social media and friends that you might have that work there to get as much information as possible.

Prepare questions to ask. The first rule of asking any question in an interview is don't ask any question where the answer can easily be found online. Try to ask questions that only that person could answer. Questions like, "why did you come to work here?" or "what do you like best about the culture?".

Research the interviewers. Google them and focus on professionally relevant information you might find. Look at their LinkedIn, Twitter and other social profiles to see what they have shared recently. Use all that information to help you think of better personalized questions to ask each interviewer. An example could be a question like, "I saw that you have an engineering background and started out in aerospace, but are now a product marketer. I've followed a similar path, do you think your engineering background has helped you here at XYZ company?"

Practice. Role play can feel cheesy, but your answers will be much better if you do a mock interview with someone else beforehand. Practice the stories you want to tell using the STAR stories format to keep them short and powerful.

Think about the question they will ask. There are many websites, like Glassdoor, where people will anonymously post questions they were asked in interviews at different companies. Read through the questions and practice answering the ones that you think you might be asked. Also, there are lots of website that compile common role specific questions.

If you're interviewing a lot, not all job interviews probably deserve this sort of preparation. A lot of preparation though, will make a big difference in how well you perform. If there is something you think I missed, please let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Make a Stranger Feel Like a Million Bucks

A few weeks ago I attended a LinkedIn customer event in Sydney and literally bumped into a famous Australian athlete. His name is Kevin Sheedy. He's a well known former player and coach in the Australian Football League. I immediately shook his hand and told him he gave a great speech, expecting him to quickly move on to other fans. He had spoken at the event earlier in the day to a large crowd and based off of the crowd's enthusiastic reaction, there were a lot of people eager to say hello and take a selfie with him. He did not move on quickly though. In fact, we chatted for over 30 minutes. When we finally parted ways, I felt like million bucks. As I look back on our conversation there were several thing that he did to make me, an American who knew nothing about the sport he has committed his life to, feel like a million bucks. While we don't all possess the natural charisma that Kevin has, there were some basic things he did that can help anyone engage a stranger in a conversation that will leave them feeling uplifted.

Ask questions. Shortly after I introduced myself, he started peppering me with questions about my life. He took a sincere interest in me as person. He asked where I was from, what I did for a living, how I liked Australia.

Bring energy to the conversation. It had been a long day. I was tired, but Kevin's energy was contagious. I left the conversation having channeled some of his energy and feeling ready to take on the rest of the day.

Be authentic. He was so authentic that it made me feel very comfortable, even though at first, I was very flustered to be speaking to someone who has accomplished so much.

Answer each question with sincerity. He treated each question I asked the same, even the really ignorant ones. I even asked him if played or just coached. Turns out he has played or coached in over 929 games, he's even in the Hall of Fame. He did not act annoyed or insulted, he just answered with an enthusiastic, "yes, I played too."

Derek Pando and Kevin Sheedy at a LinkedIn event

Each time we meet a stranger, we have an opportunity to have an impact on that person and leave them feeling uplifted. I hope this experience gives you a few ideas how you can do that, because what Kevin taught me that day in a 30 minute conversation is not a lesson I will soon forget.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No response to your request for an informational interview? Try this.

When I was an MBA student I reached out to a lot of busy professionals asking for a few minutes of their time for informational interviews. Even when it was a warm contact, not everyone was great about responding to my emails. As a busy professional before and after business school, I totally get it. Even when the intention is to respond, things happen. You forget, or even just deprioritize sending a response that day. There is though, a simple way to follow up that can help you eventually get some time on the calendar with most well intentioned busy professionals.

Shows a man frustrated that no one responds to his informational interviews

A week or so after you sent the email, reply to your first email and say

"Hope you had a great weekend. Let me know if any of these times work this week for a quick chat and what number to reach you at.

Monday- 9am-7pm
Wednesday- Anytime after 1pm
Friday- all day.


Joe Schmoe"

That's it. Short and sweet. Following up in this manner is making it as easy as possible for them to reply. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with sending a similar email each week for a month. At that point you might want to try different tactics if you're still not getting a response, but as long as you keep it positive there is a good chance eventually you'll get a response.

Have another great tactic you use to follow up? Please share in the comments.

Monday, September 29, 2014

4 Simple Ways to Give Back to Your Network

person reaching out to anotherI graduated from college in 2009 in the middle of the financial crisis. At that difficult time for the US economy and my career, there were managers and coworkers that took the time to mentor, provide encouragement and give me a chance. I could not find a full time job by graduation, but was lucky enough to get an internship that summer with Adobe. I learned a lot that summer, but had to keep looking for a full time job because of a hiring freeze. Following the guidance of many mentors, I was able to leverage that internship experience to get a full-time job at Salesforce. Often, I think back on the many people in my professional network that have helped me along the way and are still a part of my evolving career. This got me thinking about what are some of the small things that anyone can do to give back and show appreciation to those in our professional networks. Here are a few ideas that can all take less than 5 minutes.

Respond to an email you forgot about. Maybe someone reached out asking for an introduction, a reference check or perhaps it was a student wanting to learn more about your company. Take 5 minutes right now, write them back and make their day.

Lend your network. Amplify the message of someone in your network by liking or sharing their post on LinkedIn. It could help someone in your network find their next hire or gain a new customer. If the post is great, share the love.

Send a note of appreciation. It does not have to be long, just heartfelt. Handwritten is best, but an email is nice too.

Share a post you know your network will love. Not just some post with a great headline, but something that is truly thoughtful or inspiring. Take a few minutes and really think about what content would resonate most with the people in your network.

I challenge you to take a few minutes today to find a way to give back to your network. If you can think of other great ideas, please share them in the comments.

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Get a Job in Product Marketing

My first job out of college was a entry level web analytics role in the online marketing group of My coworkers were amazing and the company was growing like crazy, but after a year or so I realized the role was not a great fit for me. I spent a few months shopping different roles all over the company. Through conversations with product marketers, and my own observations, it seemed that product marketing was where I wanted to be. I was drawn to it because you get to be strategic, creative, analytical and work on a variety of projects. After a few failed attempts, I was able to transfer into my dream role in product marketing.

Since I made the switch, I often get asked, "how do you get a job in product marketing?". To those of you that are thinking this might be a good fit for you in the future, I've mapped out a few of the common paths to a career in product marketing that I've observed in Silicon Valley.

Transferring within the company- It's not uncommon to get into product marketing from a different role within the company, just as I did. Most commonly this happens from within the marketing department, but I know several people that have come from roles as diverse as sales and PR.

Here is how David James, Director of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies did it.

"My career started in the agency world of public relations and advertising. A technology client hired me to come "in-house" as a marketing generalist. Overnight, I traded working alongside creatives, account services and traffic to collaborating with engineers, product managers and database admins. And I loved it. Slowly, I discovered there was a huge need in marketing to tell a compelling story -- but still know the product inside and out. It was the perfect marriage of marketing creativity and technology know-how. 

Bottomline: If you're in product marketing (or want to get there), know your product/service inside and out. Meet with product managers. Become their friends. Have a seat at the PM table and be the voice of the customer." 

Going to business school- Product marketing is a popular post MBA job. Companies like HP, Intel, Adobe, LinkedIn and Google will take product marketing MBA interns for the summer. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door to a career in product marketing. Many of those same companies will often hire product marketing Managers right out of business school, even if they did not intern there.

Here is how Neal Armstrong, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Symantec did it.

"I came into B-School from the finance industry with almost no marketing experience. To learn more about product marketing I found a class that allowed students to complete projects for local companies to earn class credits. There was a project focused on marketing with Adobe. My credits were already maxed, but I joined the project anyways. Throughout the project I found out more about how vital product marketing was to an organization. I expressed my interest in continuing my work as a summer intern. The Adobe employees I worked with on the project knew I was excited about working with Adobe and they personally recommended me. I had received other internship offers from large tech companies outside of product marketing for the summer. After our final project was presented, the team manager and I sat down and talked. At the end of our discussion, and with other offers in hand, I secured my dream internship and was able to continue my project as MBA Product Marketing intern." 

After some time in consulting- Lots of former consultants end up as Product Marketers, more often than not they had been consulting in a similar industry where they end of working. It's easier to get a product marketing job if you've established some domain expertise your future employer values.

Here is how Elizabeth Maples a Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn did it.

"I went back to get my MBA a few years ago, but I was one of those “nontraditional” applicants: I’d been working on the editorial side of book publishing, where I spent my time searching for new authors to put under contract, and then working with them to turn an early idea into a physical book (ah, the days of physical books!). Coming out of business school, I knew I eventually wanted to get into (non-physical!) media or technology, but still felt like I needed to build on the strategic and analytical skills I’d learned in school. Consulting was a phenomenal training ground—and gave me the chance to work at a number of big companies in the industry. With that experience, I was much better positioned for PMM positions (and I’m loving it now!).

Pro-tips: If you’re taking the consulting route, try to get on product strategy or marketing-related projects in your desired industry. Also look for places that have a history of hiring consultants into PMM roles; they’re most likely to see the parallels in the skill-set."

These are some of the well worn paths, but there is always the road less traveled by. I would love to hear in the comments some of the other ways people have found their way into Product Marketing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Get Your Finances in Shape After Business School

I loved budgeting and financial planning before business school, but once the cash stopped flowing during those two years, it was a lot less fun. I started working again this summer and have spent time recently whipping my finances into shape. This post is a summary of many of the things you need to do or think about after business school to get your finances back in shape.

Remember, I'm not a financial professional by any means, this is my personal opinion and not that of an expert. Though, I have included some ideas from many of my brilliant classmates from the BYU MBA class of 2014. Hopefully this post will give you some things to think about and link to some resources that will be helpful.

save money after business school

Here are some tips to get back in shape. Not in order of importance.

#1 Maximize your use of all the benefits at your new job. Read the fine print of the benefits package. Can you expense your cell phone? Home internet? Gym membership? You might be surprised at some of the lesser known benefits that will help your bottom line.

#2 Live like you are still a student. This one is hard. Once you get that first paycheck you can all of a sudden remember lots of things that you can't live without. The longer that you can live like a student, the better. Money should always feel a little tight, no matter how much money you make, if you're doing it right.

#3 Use online tools like to track spending. Which tool is not as important as having some system that lets you see your finances aggregated across all different types of accounts. If you can't easily answer these questions below, then you really need one.

As of today, what is your net worth?
How much do you spend a month on average?
How much in fees have your banks been charging you this past year?

#4 Save money. Most "experts" recommend you try to save 10-15% of your salary. You should have a set amount each month that is going straight into a savings account.

#5 Rebuild emergency fund. 6 months to 1 years worth of expenses in a relatively liquid account is what's recommended. Though it's tempting to pay back all your student loans first, your interest rates on your loans would be relatively low compared to the kind of debt you would have to take on if you lost your job and had no savings.

#6 Get your 401k Employer Match. It's free money! Contribute at least enough to get the match, but in reality shoot to contribute even more.

#7 Participate in your ESPP (employee stock purchase plan) Read this article from Wealthfront that explains why this is a no brainer.

#8 Set goals. Having goals makes your day to day financial decisions more meaninful. If you know that you will have X number of dollars saved a year from now if you follow your plan, then blowing your budget one month will have real consequences in your mind.

#9 Pay down student debt. Once you have your emergency fund set and you are getting the max amount of 401k match from your company, the rest of the money should go to paying down your debt as quickly as possible. Prioritize the higher interest loans first.

#10 Establish college funds. If you have kids, there are 529 college savings accounts that can help you prepare for that big future expense. After business school is a good time to start. Check out

#11 Set up a FSA/HSA account. You'll have to do some research to see if this is a good fit for you, but it could have some great tax implications.

#12 Talk to a professional. It might be the right time to talk to an accountant, lawyer and maybe even a financial planner.

#13 Get the right insurance. Make sure that you're totally covered and not a risk for a major financial disaster, whether this be with car insurance, life insurance or home owners insurance.

Got a few ideas you'd like to share? Please post them in the comments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How To Get A Job Interview At LinkedIn

The simplest and most straightforward way to get a job interview at LinkedIn is to meet the job qualifications for the job you are applying for and have a current employee refer you.

This advice works for a lot of companies, but I've seen it work first hand to get a job interview at LinkedIn. In my short time at LinkedIn, I've referred two people for jobs and one of them got the job and the other one is in process. Both of the people I referred were interviewed promptly after my referral. 

This is my buddy John, I referred him to LinkedIn and now he sits behind me. 

In general, referrals from current employees are much more likely to be seen by a recruiter, than from applying online. It should be no surprise that this is particularly important at LinkedIn where one of the 5 dimensions of the culture is "relationships matter." To learn more about what that means, check out this post from LinkedIn's founder Reid Hoffman. A referral is really key to getting an interview at LinkedIn. 

If you are hoping to get an interview at LinkedIn or have more questions about how to get a job at LinkedIn, feel free to contact me. I'll try to help you as much as I can. There are many people that helped me land at LinkedIn and I'm happy to pay it forward. You can contact me through this blog or on Twitter. I hope this post on how to get a job interview at LinkedIn helps you land your dream job!

*As usual, this is my personal opinion and not representing LinkedIn the company.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Welcome To San Francisco Hug

I moved to San Francisco to take a job with Salesforce right out of my undergrad without having ever visited San Francisco in my life. I was excited for the adventure, but generally speaking I was freaked out, intimidated and paranoid about some aspects of big city living.

My first day of work I needed to catch a shuttle from the financial district to take me to new hire training in the San Mateo office. I was crashing at a friends house in the West Portal neighborhood at the time. I was a really worried about getting lost, missing the shuttle etc., so I left a few hours early. I got there really fast (the MUNI is not crowded at 6am). I got to the shuttle stop outside of Salesforce HQ and was just standing there for over an hour trying not to look like a country bumpkin. I did not know what the dress should be so to play it safe, I wore my best suit with a french cut shirt.

As the sun was coming up, some guy that was probably a little drunk came up to me and said. "DANG, YOU LOOK LIKE CLARK KENT!" He then proceeded to give me a bear hug. After he let me go, he looked me in the eye and said "wait, you also look like that kid from Jerry Mcguire." He then turned around and walked away. Welcome to San Francisco.

Clark Kent

Kid from the movie

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tips To Prepare For A Job Interview At LinkedIn

I've had a lot of friends, or friends of friends get interviews at LinkedIn lately. I've been asked several times if I have any tips for the interview process. I thought I'd compile a few tips of my own here and link to some great advice too. As usual on my blog, this post is my personal opinion and not representing LinkedIn the company. Here are my tips to prepare for a job interview at LinkedIn.

meme about a recruiter adding you on LinkedIn

1. Spruce up your profile. It should already be awesome, but if not, it's better late than never. It will go a long way to show that you actually believe in and understand the company. Great picture, work history....the whole nine yards.

2. Check for interview questions by role. You can find the list here.

3. Read this article on Mashable. If you scroll down to the end they get into some great interviewing tips.

4. Understand the culture. Read this interview of Jeff Weiner in the NY Times and check out the Slideshare below on our culture.

5. Think about the product. Don't be surprised if you get a question like, "what is your favorite feature?" or "what feature would you add?"

6. Be authentic.

7. Show your passion. If you really are passionate about the mission of the company or the products, make sure it come through in your interview.

8. Get the names of your interviewers and do your homework. Check out the LinkedIn profile of those that are interviewing you beforehand, use that information to your advantage. See if you have mutual contacts.

Good luck with your job interview at LinkedIn. I hope these tips help you prepare. If you have any other tips that you think would help you prepare for a job interview at LinkedIn, please put them in the comments. Also, if you're looking for general job interviewing tips, please check out How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Monday, June 30, 2014

How To Get A Job At LinkedIn

Last week I started a full time job at LinkedIn. I feel very fortunate to work for such a great company. I learned a few things as I went through the process on how to get a job at LinkedIn, so I thought I'd share the knowledge with future LinkedIn employees out there.

Picture at LinkedIn Beijing office
This is a picture of me visiting LinkedIn's Beijing office when I was traveling through China a few weeks before I started. 

A disclaimer to my readers, this is my personal opinion and is in no way endorsed by LinkedIn. This advice is based off my personal experience and observations.

Here are 4 steps that will guide you on your journey to get a job at LinkedIn.

1. Have the right skills- Like most places, if you read through the job description and you do not have the skills required it will be extremely difficult to get that job. If you do have those skills, make sure they are explicitly stated in your resume using the same vernacular as in the job description. If you don't have them...well get busy!

2. Leverage relationships- When I was trying to get a job at LinkedIn, I found a second degree connection on LinkedIn that was working in the group I wanted to work in and got an introduction. He is now my boss's boss. You can read more about how I did it on a post I wrote for the LinkedIn blog last summer here. A personal connection to the company and employee referral is probably the most important step to get a job at LinkedIn.

3. Show your passion- At LinkedIn people are really passionate about what they do and they want to work with other passionate people. Make sure it comes out in your resume and interviews.

4. Do your homework- While this is probably a little more general advice for any job, I think it is still worth mentioning. Find out as much as you can about the company, the team you're interested in, the products and the individual decision makers. This will help you impress those looking at your resume and interviewing you.

If you'd like to work at LinkedIn or have more questions about how to get a job at LinkedIn, feel free to contact me. I'll try to help you as much as I can. There are many people that helped me find my dream job and I'm happy to pay it forward. You can contact me through this blog or on Twitter. I hope this post on how to get a job at LinkedIn helps you land your dream job!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why You Should Think About Moving To Silicon Valley

After leaving Silicon Valley to go to business school in Utah, a lot of friends and classmates have asked me my thoughts about living and working there. I've accepted a job back in the bay, so of course this is my opinion and completely biased, but here are the top reasons for heading back.

Picture of the golden gate bridge from underneath

The companies. Check any list of top places to work in the US (CNN, Forbes) and you'll see many companies from the bay area. Not only that, but many of these companies are experiencing fast growth. My experience has been where there is growth, the opportunities are all around. There are few places in the world where so many great companies are in such close proximity. This makes it extremely competitive for talent, so companies have to treat you well to keep you.

Logos from Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Apple

The people. The bay area is top in the nation for overall education level. I have found that people in the bay area are driven, educated, passionate and generally open minded. I remember shortly after moving there, when for first time I met someone at work that went to an Ivy league school, I was really intimated. After a few months, I stopped being intimated and tried to learn as much as I could from the smart people around me. Surrounding myself with such talented and ambitious people really motivated me to step it up. Just living there broadened my vision of what I could accomplish in my career and life.

The weather- It's amazing. Check out the average temperatures. I rode my bike to work year round. You won't have to deal with scorching summers or frozen winters, it's a very moderate climate.

average monthly temperatures for mountain view, CA
Mountain View, CA

The fun- There is a whole lot to do, almost no matter what you're into. Geographically, there is surf, mountains, cities, snow and lakes all within a short drive. It's a great scene for food, music, art, philanthropy, nature, tech and just about whatever else you like.

4 guys on the beach about to surf in pacifica

Oh and of course, to be fair, here are the two biggest cons so you know what you're getting into. 

It's really expensive- Check out this cost of living calculator. It's one of the most expensive places to live in the country. This makes it really difficult to buy a house. Though, companies in the bay generally pay more and your salary is likely to increase much faster because of how competitive it is for talent. I've found that besides housing, a lot of the cost comes down to your lifestyle choices. If you only spend on what is most important to you, it's possible to save.

It's a bubble- You know, when the general population forgets that anyone else lives or thinks any differently? It's not always like that and not everyone is trapped, but check out this funny article about some serious bay area first world problems.

If you can handle not buying a house for a while, I believe the pro's seriously out weigh the con's. It is a fantastic place to live and have a career. Your quality of life will likely be improved. If you need more convincing, shoot me an email, or marry someone from the bay area like I did.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Twitter Basics for MBA students

Twitter can be a great tool for students to build professional relationships, find a job and stay up to date on what is happening in your industry. Before you dive into Twitter, I recommend you get a few of the basics down. Below are a few basics you want to master. These tips are for people that want to use Twitter strategically for their careers, if you don't care about that, you probably won't find this advice as helpful.

1. Decide what you're going to tweet about. It's easier to build a following on Twitter when people know what you will be tweeting about. If you're all over the place, it'll be harder. This does not mean if you tweet about marketing, you can't tweet about your favorite NBA team. Just try to be consistent. For example, I tweet 90% about marketing, technology and networking. 10% is whatever I'm in the mood to tweet about.

2. Remember that everything is public. Think before you tweet. People have lost their jobs for the things they have tweeted about. A PR executive with some racists tweets is the latest casualty.

3. Put up a professional profile picture. Just like LinkedIn, if you're using Twitter to expand your network, it can help to have a professional picture. At least put some kind of picture up. No one wants to see the Twitter egg.

twitter egg with an x

4. Fill out the description. This is your chance to let people know what you'll be tweeting about. I recommend you link to your LinkedIn profile, blog or personal website in the description.

example of a twitter description

5. Post consistently. If you never post, many people will eventually stop following you.

6. Follow people. Follow anyone or anything that interests you. Follow companies you are interested in or people you admire.

7. Favorite tweets. This is a simple way to let people know you like what they are sharing. Twitter notifies you when someone favorites your tweet. This is also a great way to get someone to follow you back.

example of favoriting a tweet

8. Retweet people. This is a way for you to share great content that you find with your network. Just like when you favorite, the user is notified and there is a good chance they might follow you back.

9. Respond to tweets. The great thing about Twitter is most people on it are the sort of people that want to have conversations with the Twitter community. Comment on posts, or respond to questions. You'll be surprised who might respond back.

10. Be yourself. The more authentic the better.

Twitter can be a valuable tool as you navigate your career. Have fun with it and find what aspect of Twitter creates the most value for you personally. Good luck and happy tweeting.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why I Chose BYU For My MBA

Where you go to get your MBA is a very complicated and personal decision. I've had a fantastic experience these past two years at BYU, so I thought I'd write down some of my thoughts on why I came to BYU for my MBA. Below are my top reasons for choosing BYU.

Old school BYU logo

It's a great school. It's a top 30 program. Different rankings put BYU in different places, but Forbes most recently ranked BYU as #17.

You can not beat the cost. I did not want debt loads from school to dictate any career decisions post MBA. The cost of tuition and living in Provo is astronomically low. Graduating with little or no debt gives you much more flexibility in your career choices right out of school and the next 5-10 years. US News just put out a list of which schools provide the most financial value at graduation. BYU is the highest ranked school on the list. To put this in perspective, I saved my entire second year's worth of tuition over my summer internship.

The people I knew who went there.  I did not know it at the time, but growing up I was surrounded and influenced strongly by BYU MBA's in my church, community and Boy Scout activities. Even as a teenager, I admired and respected those leaders. During my undergrad I met and became friends with some BYU MBA's and I really liked them and admired their career ambitions. They seemed like my kind of people.

It gets me to where I want to go. I really thing this is the bottom line for choosing a business school. Can it help you get to where you want to go? When I looked at all the random things I want to do in my career, I determined that a BYU MBA would help me at many steps along the way. This was a tough question for me because it takes a lot of educated guessing. For example, just because you go to a school that your dream company recruits out of, does not mean you'll get a job at that company. You might be better off at a different school and a little more hustle. It's also really hard to value the future value of a network from any school. It might be worth millions or close to nothing. I just made the best decision with the data I had.

It's a tough decision to figure out what school to go to, but I'm extremely happy with my choice. I think a big part of that is that after I decided, I didn't look back and made the most of all the opportunities I had during those two years. Whatever I put into the experience, I got back even more. It could not have worked out better.

P.S.- Cafe Rio might have had a slight part in the decision.
Picture of a cafe rio burrito

P.S.S. - Here is a quick video on how I felt about the professors a BYU, feel free to check it out too. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

How A Pen And Some Paper Can Set You Apart During Your Internship

Last year I went with a few classmates to Boeing’s headquarters in Washington as part of a recruiting tour of a variety of different companies in the Seattle area. As we sat with their recruiter in charge of hiring MBA’s, she began to rave about two of our classmates that had interned there the year before. Finally, one of us asked, “What did they do that set them apart?”
Her answer really surprised us. She did not talk about their projects, GMAT scores or long hours. She talked about how both of them were the most engaged interns over the summer. She explained that everywhere they went they carried notebooks, always listening attentively and taking notes. She also said they were always prepared with questions. There was never a moment where they zoned out and started checking their phones.

a picture of a pen on a paper notebook

Companies often go to great lengths to create a great internship experience for you, show your appreciation by doing your best to be engaged. Our generation often gets accused of having short attention spans. You can prove them wrong. As you go to your internships this summer, take notes, ask questions and set yourself apart.

Monday, April 7, 2014

5 Ways Students Can Protect Their Online Reputation

Have you ever Googled yourself? If you haven't done it before, do it right now. Now this thought may be a little scary but 80% of employers will Google you before they invite you for an interview. What employers find online about you is at best an incomplete picture of who you are but it's just a fact of life. Below are a few ideas of what you can do to make sure your online reputation is stellar.
a picture of someone googling their own name
1. Revisit the privacy settings on all your social channels. Most social media sites have a "view as public" link to make sure you know what is public and what is private. Anything that you'd be concerned about a future employer seeing, make sure to delete it or that it is private. You might be surprised what photos the whole world can see.
2. Set up two factor authentication for increased security. Getting any of your accounts hacked sucks. The last thing you want is SPAM being sent through your Facebook, LinkedIn or Gmail accounts to all your contacts. Two factor authentication makes it so you have to enter in a code from a text message to your phone, to be able to log in from a new computer. For example, if someone in Nigeria tries to log into your Gmail with your password, unless they have your cell phone, it will be impossible for them to get into your account.
picture of two factor authentication
3. Set a Google alert for your name. This works best if your name is not very common. If you do have a common name try to add another keyword like your place of employment, hometown or school. These alerts will send you an email anytime Google finds a new website or article where your name is mentioned.
4. If you don't have one yet, create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the worlds largest professional network. LinkedIn is the best place to establish your online professional presence and reputation. On your LinkedIn profile you can make sure employers find the information you want them to find. Check this other post I wrote which explains the LinkedIn basics all students should be doing.
5. Put up a professional picture for your LinkedIn and Google profiles. LinkedIn is a professional social network, so the picture should be professional. I recommend a professional picture for your Google profile too because it can show up in the emails you send through Gmail. If you are using Gmail for professional communication, you want a professional picture to show up.
example of google plus picture showing up in gmail

A little bit of effort can go a long way to protect your online reputation. Now is the best time to set yourself up for success in preparation for when that recruiter, from your dream company, Googles your name.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Summary: The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld.

Last summer I asked Nick Besbeas (LinkedIn's CMO) if he could recommend some marketing books for me to read to prepare to come back to LinkedIn after I graduated. I just finished one of the first books, The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld.

After reading each book, you'll get a post that has my key takeaways. Here they are......

Avoid "bad profits" at all costs. Bad profits are "profits earned at the expense of customer relationships." A great example of bad profits are the late fees from Blockbuster. Late fees were one of their biggest sources of profit. People were all too eager to abandon Blockbuster for companies like Netflix, who took advantage of Blockbuster's mistake. Netflix built their business off of the mantra "no late fees". Bad profits is one of the main reasons Blockbuster went down in flames.

Current accounting systems encourage bad profits. The book highlighted that current accounting systems do not distinguish between bad and good profits. This makes having another measure that you put alongside your financial reports extremely important. Naturally, the book recommended net promoter score

Net promoter score is a simple way to measure customer satisfaction. Net promoter is a customer satisfaction methodology based on one simple question you ask your customers. That question is "How likely is it that you would recommend this company, or this product or service, to a friend or colleague? Most often used on a scale of 0-10. This helps you bucket customers into detractors, passives and promoters.

Though the concept is simple, it is extremely difficult to implement. The companies highlighted in the book as successful users of the net promoter methodology all had large initiatives supported throughout the entire company to focus on using the net promoter score. For the system to really work, everyone from the management to the front line workers need to be committed to trying to create promoters among their customers.

Customer obsession is the winning strategy. Net promoter score, when implemented correctly, is a great forcing function to get the whole company thinking about whether they are creating positive customer experiences everyday.

This is fantastic book if you thinking about revamping how you measure customer satisfaction at your company or thinking of adopting the net promoter score methodology. Anyone that has to create customer satisfaction surveys for their job should read this book. Tactically speaking, if you're creating surveys the shorter the better and this one simple question can tell you a lot.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Simple Way To Strengthen Your Professional Network

a picture of two men shaking hands dressed professionally
If you want to strengthen your professional network, one the most important things that you can do is report back after any interaction with professionals in your network.

If you reached out to a former coworker to get advice on a marketing campaign you were going to run, let them know whether or not the campaign was successful and what you learned.

If while looking for a job you got an introduction from a friend to their old roommate, who now works at your dream company, let your friend know how your conversation went with their former roommate.

Following up afterwards will help you take that professional relationship to the next level. The reason this step is so important is because it increases the level of trust. Someone trusted you enough to take the time to make an introduction or give you advice. In following up, you confirm to them that this trust was not misplaced and that you made good use of their time. Every time you report back positively, this trust will grow stronger. People just feel great when they know they have really helped someone. Reporting back will actually increase their willingness to help you in the future.

My good friend Sonal is a great example of what can happen when you report back. At the beginning of her MBA program she reached out to an alumni to talk about internships in the Boston area. She ended up doing her internship in California, but kept it touch with the alum in Boston and let him know how it was going, even getting feedback from him on her summer project. After the project was over, she reported back on how it went. She found that each time she followed up on their different conversations, he seemed even more willing to help her in her career and job search. In a relatively short period of time, the relationship flourished into a strong professional relationship.

One common concern I've heard people say, is that they don't want to bother them again. Do not worry about that at all. It's never a bother, people want to know, especially if they have really helped you.

It only takes a few minutes to write a short email or make a quick call, but the positive impact reporting back on different professional interactions will have on the strength of your network will be profound.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How To Get Great Work Experience While You Are In College

When I was in college, I organized a Guinness world record breaking rock paper scissors tournament as a fundraiser for my university’s entrepreneurship club. To promote the event we had a helicopter land on campus, parked a Lamborghini in the quad and got the volleyball team to act as the referees for the tournament. It was a ton of work and a ton of fun.

Would it surprise you if I told you that being in the leadership of that club and running that tournament helped put me on the path to landing a great full time job when I graduated? The skills I learned from running that tournament and the exposure to the local business community it created, helped me get my first internship. That internship led to a better internship, which led to a great full time job.

These days companies seem to have higher and higher expectations for the skills that grads have coming out of college. It is important to get good grades, but having valuable experience AND a diploma is more frequently the recipe for success when it comes to finding a job after graduation. Below are 10 ways students can get great work experience.

Picture of the omniture throwdown a BYU fundraiser

1. Do an Internship- Internships can often lead to a job or at least provide you with skills that will help you get a job later.

2. Volunteer- Getting paid is not a requirement to count as work experience. Often volunteer work can be done on a project basis or maybe over a holiday break.

3. Get involved in clubs- Don’t just go for the pizza, get involved in the leadership of the clubs that interest you. This will increase your visibility and access to the club’s network.

4. Get a part time job- Not only does it pay the bills, but can help make you be more marketable for after graduation. Try to find something that could be a stepping stone towards your post graduation plans.

5. Look beyond your current role- Leverage your current job to get exposure to other parts of the company that might interest you. Offer to help another department with a side project to learn a skill you need.

6. Work for a start up- They are often are fast moving, exciting and willing to give you more responsibility than you should have as a student.

7. Take the right classes- This could be a class that gives you hard skills, like an advanced excel class. It could also be a field study or an on campus internship. Select your classes with a future job in mind.

8. Participate in competitions- It could be a film competition or a business case competition. Often the sponsors of competitions for students are interested in hiring students. Take the chance to show them what you got.

9. Start your own business- Can’t find someone to hire you? Have a great idea? Don’t wait around. Try it on your own.

10. Teach yourself the skills you need- There are many skills that can be self taught. Read a book or watch “how to” YouTube videos. Connect with professionals that currently have those skills to get ideas how to develop them on your own time.

Those four years will be over before you know it. Don't forget to take the time now to make sure that you graduate with a diploma and a resume. Make sure that each semester, whatever you are doing outside of the classroom, is getting you one step closer to your dream job.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Students Can Use Twitter To Find a Job

In 2009, I graduated from my undergrad with zero full time job prospects. I ended up taking a post graduation internship at Adobe (Omniture at the time). During my internship I started to follow the web analytics community on Twitter. I was looking for a full time job and happened to see one of the industry experts (Adam Greco) post a tweet saying he was looking for candidates with Omniture experience for a job in San Francisco. I reached out to him immediately. Six weeks later, I was driving across the bay bridge to start my career in San Francisco.

Twitter can be a powerful tool to help you find a job. Below are some ways that students can use Twitter to help them find a job. You can use Twitter to.....

Build new relationships. Follow people that you would like to get to know. Respond to their public questions or comment on articles they share. You'll be surprised at who will respond back to one of your thoughtful tweets. Twitter is a great place to start a relationship.

example of a conversation on twitter with Greg Mcneal
I told a guy on Twitter I liked his article he wrote for Forbes, got to meet him a few weeks later

Nail the interview. Looking at someone's tweets is a great way to get to know them better as you prep for an interview. Following a company's Twitter handle will help you keep current on the latest things going on with the company. Use all this social information to show in an interview that you are passionate and up to date on what is happening in the industry.

Uncover new job leads. It's not uncommon for users on Twitter to tweet out job openings at their company or on their team. Often it's way before they are posted publicly on job boards. Get a head start and contact the person who tweeted directly to avoid the black hole of applying online. Do searches in Twitter for the titles of the positions you are interested in.

example of hubspot posting a job on twitter

Establish influence. As you participate in the professional community you're interested in on Twitter, you can become a valued member of that community. Contribute to the conversations that are happening around your profession. Over time, if you're thoughtful, people will want to follow you too and hear what you have to say.

Twitter should not be your only job search strategy, but can definitely give you an edge as you pursue your dream job. Please share any questions you have about how students can use Twitter to find a job in the comments.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Advanced LinkedIn Tips For MBA Students

*While I'm writing this from the perspective of an MBA student, all these LinkedIn tips work for any sort of student.

You've mastered the basics of LinkedIn. Your profile is filled out. You've stopped connecting with strangers. You always send a personalized message when you connect. What's next? Below are my advanced tips for students who want LinkedIn to be a competitive advantage for them in finding a job and managing their career.

1. Embed work that you've done. It's your reputation, not your resume. Show everyone what you can do. If you have any examples of your work that you're proud of, put them under the job where you created it. LinkedIn lets you embed videos, Slideshare and links to webpages.

Image of some presentations embedded in a LInkedin profile

2. Create profiles in other languages you speak. I wrote another post about why you should do this. You can read it here. It's easy to create a profile in another language in LinkedIn.

"hello" word cloud in multiple languages

3. Optimize your profile for the right keywords. Make sure the key words you want to be found for are in your profile. LinkedIn works a lot like a search engine. If the words or job titles you want to be found for are not in your profile, you'll be hard to find.

Screenshot of the linkedin search bar

4. Join groups strategically and participate. Join groups that are the watering holes of the people you want to be associated with. Jump in on the conversations that are interesting. Groups are a great way to show expertise and build new relationships.

5. Automate some of your sharing. I've found that it is a lot easier to share content on LinkedIn if you use a tool like Buffer. Consistent sharing of relevant content about your industry will keep you top of mind in your network. Buffer queues up articles so they are shared in the future. For example, you can have a post go out every Monday at 3:00 pm. If you find 7 articles you'd like to share one morning, you can have them easily scheduled to go out over the next 7 days. The advanced scheduling helps you be consistent and saves you the hassle of trying to find a new article to share everyday. Check out this article from Buffer on how it works.

6. Sign up for advanced contacts functionality. Go to, hit the "get started" button. As you go through the sign up process, don't forget to sync LinkedIn with your email and calendar. For more details on what these features can do, check out this article from Hubspot on how to use LinkedIn contacts. As an MBA student, these features will save you countless hours as you use LinkedIn to build your network and find a job or internship.

Screenshot of the email integration with Linkedin contacts

7. Get recommendations- I recommend getting one or two for each major role. While it's tempting to get them from a fellow MBA student, try to get recommendations from professionals you worked with in your jobs.

8. Manage your endorsements- If you are getting endorsed for something you don't want to be endorsed for, take it down. Check out this article to learn how to do it. If there is something you'd like to be endorsed for, send an email to a bunch of fellow MBA students or a small trusted group of friends/colleagues asking them to endorse you. Definitely do not SPAM everyone you know asking for an endorsement. Also, only ask to be endorsed for skills that you legitimately feel you have some expertise in.

List of LinkedIn endorsements

I hope you've enjoyed these advanced LinkedIn tips for MBA students. If you have done all these things, you are well on your way to becoming an LinkedIn expert. If you missed my first post on this topic LinkedIn Basics For MBA Students, click the link to get the basics down before you try all the steps I've outlined above. If you're looking for more tips on how to write your LinkedIn summary check out LinkedIn Summary Examples for MBA Students. If you have any other questions, please comment below. Also, if you have some advanced LinkedIn tips I'm missing, I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

An Easy Way To Take The Awkwardness Out Of Networking

There can be awkward moments when you are trying to build your professional network. It's hard to know what to say to start trying to build a professional relationship with someone. I've found though, that there is one simple question that can really help jump start a relationship in a lot of situations.

Could you tell me about how you got to where you are?

In other words, you're asking someone to share their story. It's usually insightful, maybe inspiring, but everyone has a story and often people are not afraid to share it. There is also something personal about hearing about the long and sometimes windy trail that has lead to their current endeavors. This question can be very natural especially if you're young in your career or a student.

picture of a quote "we all have a story to tell"

I interned at Adobe when I was an undergrad. I met with an executive in another department to get some advice as I was still figuring out what I wanted to do for my career. I asked that one question (with a few follow up questions, of course) and we talked for 30 minutes. At the end of the conversation she asked if she could help me by introducing me to other people in the company. She asked me! There is something about telling someone your own story that often inspires you to lend a hand. Now, I'm not writing this so you can ask this question and try to flatter someone into helping you. That is not my intention. I just want you to know that it's a common outcome to asking this question. The most valuable thing you'll get out of asking that question is getting to know someone better and being inspired by their story.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Negotiating Tips For People Pleasers

I'll admit it. I'm sort of a people pleaser. I'm not a complete push over, but I highly value harmony in my personal  and professional life. This past year in business school I've taken two negotiation classes that I've really enjoyed. In the classes, when we would do mock negotiations, it became painfully obvious to me that my people pleasing can get me a terrible deal in a negotiation. Here are my top tips I've learned to help people pleasers like me not get a raw deal in negotiations.

Guy smiling holding a piece of paper that says yes

Prepare. If you do your homework beforehand, you'll know when you get past the point a deal is worth it for you. (This is called a it to learn more). You can be confident going into a negotiation that you have a very strict walking away price and won't let your need to find harmony put you in a worse situation than where you started.

Team up. Bring someone into the negotiation that likes a little bit of conflict. It will balance you out and keep you in check if you're settling too quickly.

funny meme about partnership, showing a bear fishing with a person

Avoid in-person meetings.  If you tend to cave when you're in person, send a proxy, do it over the phone or maybe even email. It's really easy to hold your ground when you're not there in person. It's harder to read social cues through those mediums, but it might be worth it for a people pleaser.

Be optimistic. For a lot of people pleasers, this just makes you more comfortable. In tough situations, remind whoever you are negotiating with that you are still optimistic you'll be able to reach a deal.

Eagle trying to carry away a huge turtle

Take a timeout. It's like a timeout in basketball, if you feel the heat from the other side and it makes you want to settle, just kill the momentum by taking a break. If you're on the spot, say you need a class of water or need to go to the bathroom.

a nba player trying to call a timeout from the floor

Negotiating well is a skill. Even if it does not come naturally, with effort and a little bit of practice, you can greatly improve your skills. If you want to learn more, I recommend "The Truth About Negotiations" by Leigh Thompson

Cover of truth about negotiations book by Leigh Thompson