Professionals share the best kept career secrets

After being flung from the frying pan of senior year, new graduates can get lost in the working world’s fire.

A panel of Oakland University alumni gathered Monday, Feb. 25 for the “You’ve Been Branded” event to share their career experiences with the assembled students and help them find their way.

“Your dream job is not going to happen right away,” said Kelly Bailiff,  associate director of Walk to End Alzheimer’s Michigan chapter. “I think I was kinda expecting it to happen because I had six internships, and I volunteered and did some different things. It did set me up for success in the long run, but I think I kinda just thought I would just find a dream job right away.”  

Bailiff’s career path led her to several nonprofits in Metro Detroit, giving her extensive insider knowledge on the way these organizations operate.

“A benefit—and a challenge, I will say—is that you wear a lot of different hats working for a nonprofit organization—especially in an entry-level position,” Bailiff said. “When I was marketing coordinator, I was responsible for bringing in sponsorships, and I was also responsible for running a bunch of our events, and then I had a bunch of other tasks that did not necessarily go with the job description.”

Bradford Bochniak, a sales planner at WDIV Local 4 News, provided students with information that could turn interships into potential job offers.

“One of my tips… is really making sure you are constantly asking people if they need something,” Bochniak said. “I really stress that because you may not always get direct supervision from your coordinator, and you are going to have downtime. Having the confidence in yourself and being comfortable enough to go talk to other departments really helped me. One of the things I noticed is if you do that, the managers really do notice you, and they remember you.”

Kyle Lesher used the story of how he got an internship at Beaumont as a lesson in being proactive.

“When I interviewed for my internship at Beaumont… three weeks went by and I had not heard anything,” Lesher said. “They said they were going to reach out to me within the next week—I never heard anything. I emailed them and they said, ‘Oh I’m sorry, if you still want the internship, it’s yours.’”

Bochniak provided one of the most simple ways to win over managers: writing a thank you letter.

“It is one of those things that seems common sense, but people really do appreciate it,” Bochniak said. “When the holidays come around, if you give a quick thank you note or just a ‘happy holidays,’ people still love getting notes. I did that on the last day of an internship and everyone loved it. They were like, ‘What is this millennial kid doing giving us notecards?’ They really appreciated it.”