“Your brand is what you commit to doing and then follow through on.” I didn’t make up that line, I stole it. Actually, I may even be paraphrasing because I didn’t have anything to write it down when I heard it. But I really liked it and it’s been stuck in my head for a while.
Roy Reid, who heads up the College’s Marketing and Communications operations, was talking to a group of our faculty about what his team and their partners have done over the past year when he said it. Specifically they publicize what’s going on in the college. As it pertains to our student body, this means not only doing things that get you engaged in the college, but getting alumni, business leaders, and others saying, “Dang, there’s some cool stuff going on over at UCF. I’ll bet their students are awesome. Let’s go hire lots and lots of them!” Well, at least that’s what I want them to be saying.
The College’s brand, then, is what we say we are going to do and then deliver on. Things like, “push you out of your comfort zone” and “encourage data-driven decision making” and “collaborate with others.” You can have an awesome repertoire of catch phrases. But if you don’t deliver the goods, then you aren’t the Rock…you’re some mid-card jobber. You aren’t Blake Bortels, you’re Johnny Manzel. You aren’t Rancid, One Republic, or Kenny Chesney…you’re Good Charlotte, William Hung, and C.W. McCall. To deliver the goods, the Office of Professional Development hired professionals with experience in Recruiting and Human Resources who can coach you on what you need to be doing to get a job after graduation. We did that because we say it’s our job to deliver a useful, needed, and valuable student service.
I’m bringing up what Roy said because I want you to think about your “brand.” Your brand is what people think about you, it’s what they think you are capable of accomplishing, it establishes your efficacy. Some of you have very cool, direct experience in what you want to do after graduation. Some of you are actually doing it right now and your degree is a step in getting paid more for it, having more to do, managing people who do it, or doing it for someone with more resources. The vast majority of you, however, don’t. You may have done cool stuff that we like to call “transferrable skills.” This is a nice way of saying, I haven’t actually flown a kite, but I have run fast a few times and held string. Gimmie a shot! Then again, maybe you haven’t even run fast.
But my guess is all of you, runners and non-runners alike, want a shot at doing something cool. I’ve spoken to lots of you these past few weeks and no one has said, I just want to go live in a cardboard box, or I want to sleep on my mom’s sofa, or I wanna be a bum. Everyone has had something that they want to do. Some generic, some highly focused, but most of you are at least moving in a direction. That’s cool!
Your brand will help you get you a shot. Showing that you can commit to something and then deliver on it will tell an employer that you are worth an investment in time, money, and training. Remember networking at Welcome to the Majors? I asked you to focus on helping others with their needs. That’s also how you establish a brand. Here’s how you do it…
In GEB 3003 I’ve asked you to reach out to people doing what you want to do and learn how they got there. Your Career Coach showed you LinkedIn. I asked you to sign up for CareerFest. Dean Jarley told you to join clubs and get engaged with what’s going on around you. Do projects, volunteer, whatever. All of these activities are places where you can ask someone, “What do you need help with?” At the end of your Informational Interview or after an alum accepts your LinkedIn invite you can say, “Thank you, you’ve been very generous with your time. Is there anything I can help you with in return?” At networking events you can say, “Thank you for explaining that to me, you’ve been very helpful. Is there anything I can help you with in return?”
Then, when they ask you to do something, you do it. You don’t wait for instructions, or tell someone else to do it, YOU DO IT!! Same thing with projects and volunteerism. Look, no one wants to work for the “ideas guy.” You know the one. Hey guys, what we oughta do is….and then expects others to make it happen. Well, nobody wants to hire that either. They want to hire someone who has accomplished things and can tell a story about it. A story that relates to something they want done (We’ll work on that in GEB 4223!)
If you do this enough, you not only have a list of accomplishments to talk about and a story to tell, you have a reputation! A reputation for getting things done. That’s a brand people will admire. But mostly, that’s a brand people will HIRE!! But to get a brand, you need to go do something.
Seems like we keep coming back to this “DO” thing, don’t we!