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Interior Design Students Focus on Networking at Career Day

Posted October 24, 2011


“Be careful about what you post on Facebook” was one of the bits of advice Deb Bailey, Director of Corporate Relations,  Steelcase Inc., gave to Interior Design Students at their Career Day last week. 

Ignoring the podium, Deb talked conversationally and comfortably to the large group, gathered at the top floor of the B.O.B. Her mission: kick off an entire day of career advice, mostly focusing on Networking.  

Her message, while targeted to this specific group, could have been given at any of the Career Days at the Kendall College of Art and Design.  

She gathered together ideas garnered from her 41 years of working and just as many years being involved in the community.  

I was struck by her comment, “ Send sympathy notes.  You all know to write thank you notes, but I learned when my Dad died, how much it meant to me to receive kind notes from people about my loss.”    She added that she recently bought 20 sympathy cards to have on hand, making it easy to dash off a note and pop in the mail.  

Her advice was very practical, doable stuff that the students seemed to soak in.  The kinds of suggestions she made clearly worked for her. She says she never “applied for a job. All my jobs came through someone I knew.”  




What did she say to the eager students?  Here are a few of the highlights.  

  •  Identify your networks and look beyond the obvious.  Some times its a person you know at a church group that is the person who can help you. 
  • When you ask for help be clear about what you want help with. Don’t waste someone’s time with vagueness. 
  • Model your competence.  If you tell an interviewer you pay attention to details, then write a thank you note that reflects that statement. 
  • Be nice to everyone.  If you are rude to my secretary, that tells me something. 
  • Get involved in the community.  This can give you skills, experience and contacts that will be hard to get at work. 
  • Show appreciation.  I work with someone who starts every meeting with a thank you to the group for what they have done.  It’s really powerful. 
  • And advice given often but worth heeding.  “You are your own brand.  What is it that you are known for?”

She added to that, “In a town the size of Grand Rapids you are your own Brand 24/7, darn it?  Right?” 

This means at Costco on Saturday am, at the B.O.B on Saturday night. And on Facebook, of course.    Think about how you present yourself to the world. 

To make this point, Deb held up some cocktail napkins printed with the message.

 “What happens tonight appears on Facebook tomorrow.”  

Now, that’s another whole conversation, isn’t it? 


~Susan J. Smith 


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