Intern Talk: The Fine Art of Balancing Personality and Professionalism

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The ones who have tackled this have gone on to become chief communications officers, public relations specialist or, in the case of Leah Seay, a public policy communications assistant manager at General Motors.

Although I had only previously met Leah through a phone call that lasted no more than ten minutes, I was in awe of how our conversation impacted my day. I decided to pick up the phone two months later and ask how she has finessed this skill during her undergrad, graduate and now professional career. Leah offered some tangible tips that students can learn in order to excel in the field with some panache.

Remember that you are talking to people, so humanize what you say.

During an interview with General Motors, the interviewer asked Leah about a time something did not go as planned. Leah describes her time working in Greek life where she was planning a Halloween event that ended up not working out. Not only was she devastated that the event wasn’t a success but she was also disappointed that she couldn’t wear her cheeseburger costume. The employers were taken aback by the comment but it was a pivotal moment where they were able to see Leah’s personality and her fit within the company. Its tidbits like this that show your fun nature and can differentiate you from the monotonous grind.

Author’s note: Don’t worry, Leah was able to wear the cheeseburger costume the following Halloween.

If you recently landed the job but are unsure of how to fit in, Leah said, “first show your value and then your personality will come through.” Employers hired you to do great work but if you impress them with your skill and personality you will be selected to work on bigger clients and given more responsibilities.

Effectively and concisely communicate ― avoid filler words “Um,” “like” and “just.”

This is where the buddy system comes into play. If you know you are guilty of these communication sins, find a friend who you talk with often and can hold you accountable every time you use one in a conversation. Removing irrelevant words will stop any miscommunication issues as well as make the conversation more enjoyable for your counterpart.

Research before a conversation.

In this career, you have to be ready to problem solve at the drop of a hat. However, at networking events, there are ways you can be more equipped to create long-lasting relationships. Research is very important, Leah says, and has helped her find her dream job at General Motors. She knew of a networking event that would have employees from General Motors in attendance so before arriving, she thoroughly researched the company and developed questions that were engaging and insightful. That one event helped pave the way to where she is today.

If you are unsure of who attending an event, ask the coordinators if they have a list or visit the Facebook event. However, be open to meeting people outside of your area of interest or even field. Like I mentioned earlier, my first call from Leah was less than ten minutes but it still continues to impact my life.

Speaking of research, if you are interested in becoming a pro on learning how to connect with others, Leah recommends reading Emotional Intelligence: How It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goldman. The book describes how emotional intelligence can affect the success of your relationships and leadership style. The President of University of Florida PRSSA and I will be reading it in the upcoming month so grab yourself a copy and join our unofficial book club.

 Special thanks to Leah Seay for sharing her thoughts on this month’s Intern Talk. Follow her on Twitter @LeahSeay.

 

 Demi Wolfe is the 2017-2018 vice president of career services and a senior public relations major at the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @DemiWolfe62 or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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