How To Find A Job

Looking for a job can be daunting. Luckily for you we have some great tips to help you find a job fast. Take a look at the info below.

General rules:

  • When dining is involved, the meal is never about the food. When I was in college, every networking function centered on the cuisine. I used to organize my days around going to publicly-promoted mixers where I could get free meals of hors d’oeuvres and other finger foods. I was driven by it and was proud of my accomplishment of being able to go a week without buying a meal. But I am not in college anymore; and now I know that food, whether it is free or not, is not my motivation for attending receptions and other networking events. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat at a reception—they are supplying the food after all and you can enjoy it. But you should follow some tips to make sure that what you eat doesn’t get in the way of your talking, meeting new people, and making networking connections
  • Dress the part. Know what is appropriate clothing to wear to an interview, event, mixer or conference, and take it up a notch. An important part of establishing your professionalism and your dedication to your craft is wearing the garments associated with the vocation. However, at conferences and other high-impact networking situations you don’t want to appear as if you just came in from the field or lab. You need to appear a little more formal and polished when trying to make a great first impression. This is especially important if you are going to be “on stage”—giving a talk or a poster or leading a board or committee meeting. So where some might consider it appropriate to wear jeans and sneakers to a conference, if you are giving a talk or are looking for a job, especially in the early stages of your career, I would dress up just a little. You don’t have to wear a three piece black suit, but a nice pair of unwrinkled chinos combined with a button-downed shirt (tucked in) and a pair of dress shoes is completely suitable for many science and engineering conference settings and even some job interviews.
  • Every culture has its own rules—learn these before you travel or interact with someone from that region. How you interact with others, especially those who come from a different culture or region than you, can make or break your next encounter. And since science and engineering is a global enterprise and will only continue to be more so in the future, it is critically important for you to gain an understanding of cultural nuances and norms as they relate to professional interactions before you endeavor to join a team or work with someone from that culture.

I learned this the hard way when I was studying abroad in Cairo. When I first arrived in the Middle East, not yet even 21, I ventured to the souk, or marketplace, and started buying souvenirs. But having not done much research relating to the culture of the region and how business is done there, I went about it in all the wrong ways and as a result I not only paid higher prices for my objects of desire, but probably ended up insulting the shopkeepers in the process. But by the end of my semester stay, I knew exactly what I was doing, having observed people multiple times making transactions and from asking questions (the value continues!) of my classmates. So in December, I recall visiting a merchant and spending time with him at his booth: Chatting with him about the weather, school, family, culture, and the like, enjoying a fresh glass of carrot juice and tea, and then quite some time later, and only then, actually getting down to business and beginning our formal negotiation for the price of the product I wanted to buy. By learning, mastering, and ultimately employing appropriate etiquette for the culture in which I was a visitor, I was able to foster a fair exchange of both product and respect with this salesman.

I learned a lot about operating in unfamiliar cultures from that study abroad experience. For example, I learn in the Middle East to always shake hands with your right hand, as the left one is considered unclean, and to never point the soles of your shoes at someone, as it is considered an insult. I also learned never to assume anything about a person’s culture or background without inquiring about it first. I gained this bit of wisdom, also in Egypt, while participating in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with my new friends from the American University in Cairo. The guests at this affair were from myriad cultures and countries with which I had previously not had any interaction. So I was a little surprised when, while we were having a meal of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and peas, one student ate the entire meal with his hands. Furthermore, he did not make use of his napkin until the very end of the meal, when he performed the following act: When the entire plate was wiped clean of all food particles, he poured his glass of water over his hands above the plate, and then and only then did he wipe his hands on the napkin.

I could have guessed that he was probably from India or Pakistan, where many meals are eaten without utensils. As it turned out, he was from Brunei. And following the meal, I asked him about what he did and he was happy to share the nuances of his culture with me and the other guests. The experience taught me a couple of critical things:

  • In a multi-cultural engagement, if you see someone do something that seems out of the ordinary for your culture, you can ask—people are often happy to share their culture with you.
  • Don’t assume that someone is being unprofessional because they are acting in a certain way that seems to be the opposite of what you are used to. They may just not be familiar with the cultural practices of that region or ecosystem.
  • Learn and respect other cultures—just because someone does it differently than you, doesn’t make it wrong.
  • People respond positively to others who seek to adopt appropriate cultural practices. If you ask about, learn, and then follow the nuances of a certain region, you will find that your networking ROI will immediately improve and you will gain access to the Hidden Platter of Opportunities!

And one final thought about interaction with people from other cultures: We all know that every discipline of science and engineering (and even subdisciplines) has its own “cultural” norms and standards. For example, what might be appropriate to wear while giving a talk at an ecology conference might not be appropriate when interviewing for a job at a government lab. So take note of what your own STEM culture dictates is appropriate and how professionalism is defined by that culture. You can use it as a guideline for your own behavior and even kick it up a notch

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