Sell yourself. Work smart, not just hard. And don’t forget to follow Woody Allen’s rule for success: "80 percent of life is just showing up."
Those were just a few of the tips that successful Lehigh alumni shared with students during the "Meet with Success" Career Panel. The program is the first in a series of discussions offered by Career Services and the Lehigh University Alumni Association.
The panel featured Jim Mirenda ’68, ’93P, Managing Director of J.P. Morgan and Company; Craig Monaghan ’80, Chief Financial Officer for AutoNation Inc.; Marc Paley ’83, Managing Director and the Head of U.S. Equities at Lehman Brothers; and Allen Wurzbach ’64, Senior Consultant with executive search firm Korn/Ferry International. The discussion was moderated by Lynn Anne Miller ’85, Contributed Articles Manager for Texas Instruments.
The group reminisced about their days at Lehigh as they spoke about topics ranging from headhunters’ fees to the recession.
Panelists agreed that, despite the downturn in the economy, the job market holds promise. "There are opportunities out there, you just have to do your own search for them and at every opportunity, sell yourself," said Jim Mirenda ’68, ’93P.
Allen Wurzbach ’64 explained that a current shortage of talent means companies are competing for the best people. "Employees now have the chance to ask their employers ‘What’s my benefit if I work here?’"
Mastering new skills will also help students just starting out, they said. "Find the steepest learning curve you can find. If you’re always learning, you cannot fail," advised Craig Monaghan ’80.
Lynn Anne Miller ’85 encouraged students to differentiate themselves from others. "You need to make yourself unique and show employers what sets you apart," she said.
Even taking a risk is a good thing, even if it leads to a mistake. "Anything you do before you’re 30 in your career, unless it’s illegal, is beneficial," joked Wurzbach.
The alumni also encouraged students to have fun at what they choose to do. "Make sure you’re doing what you enjoy," said Marc Paley ’83. "Be cognizant of what you feel in your heart. It will work for you."
Lehigh student Paul McLaughlin ’02, was glad for the chance to attend the discussion and plans to go to the others in the series. "I’ve got entrepreneurial aspirations, and I want to own my own business. But right out of school, you don’t know right where you’re going," he commented. "These people are able to provide some information and guidance, so I can step back and see how it applies to my own talents and skill set."
Becky Carlson ’04 came to the event looking for advice on networking. "I know that it’s hard for a lot of students. I always get nervous about making that first phone call," she said. "But the most important thing I learned tonight was that you have to make your career for yourself. It’s up to you."