A Look at African American Rising Stars

Black Enterprise, February 1999 | Go to article overview

A Look at African American Rising Stars


ARMING YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS

It's true. The job market remains strong. Not sensational, as it was in 1998. But solid, and growing steadily. In fact, the experts predict a 10% growth rate in 1999, despite lower corporate profits, dips in the stock market and restructuring at some corporations. However, people have different expectations from their jobs than they did in the past. As Jessie Wooley, president of the Crimson and Brown Recruiters observes: "Employees fully expect to have from five to 10 employers. Now they have to figure out, "How do I get in and stay there?" Or, "what skills sets do I need to stay on the radar screen?'"

Today, the core competencies people need to do this are very different than they were 20 years ago. They go way beyond functional skills to include communications skills, team work, flexibility and continuous learning. Without these, no one could succeed in a world where mergers between global giants like Bankers Trust and Deutsche Bank have become almost commonplace.

To help you get ahead in this new environment, this special section on Career and Educational Opportunities brings you a series of profiles of successful African American executives. These men and women, rising stars in corporate America, have overcome a number of obstacles to rise to positions of major responsibility, deflecting discrimination and making bottom line contributions to their companies. Their experience may serve as models for you in the future.

WHAT THE EXPERTS RECOMMEND

But what if you are an undergraduate or graduate student looking for an entry-level position? You can use these profiles to take a look at different corporate culture. But to help you on a more practical level, we have put together some advice on how to develop an effective job hunt strategy, based on interviews with seasoned recruiters, human resource personnel and career counselors at major universities.

* Take advantage of career office resources. Your college or university career services office usually has the responsibility for coordinating corporate on-campus recruiting. That office is there to serve you. Take advantage of its resources from counseling to special educational seminars, job fairs and interviews. You may be able to connect with the office through the internet.

* Gain work experience. A good way to do this is through co-op work programs or internship programs (usually held during summer months). The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that employers select about 20% of their new hires from these programs. You can find out about promising internships like In Roads from your career office. Also, consult internship directories at the library or bookstore for special internships offered by individual companies.

* Attend job fairs. Job fairs expose you to a variety of prospective employers, give you interview experience, and sometimes even land you a job. To get the most out of the event, do your homework. Know something about the companies attending; dress for business success; and come armed with 20 or more resumes.

* Prepare thoroughly for job interviews. Your job at any interview is to make yourself stand out. So research the company and practice answering questions with friends (or other jobseekers) before the interview. Being well prepared will help you answer questions smoothly, and demonstrate your interest and maturity.

* Network, network and network. A good network of business and personal contacts can be a big boost in your job hunt. The network should include your professors, friends from student chapters of national organizations and even alumni who attend meetings both on and off the campus. You may be surprised at how helpful alumni can be, even if you contact them by email or "cold call" by telephone. Just make sure you show the appropriate deference after making the initial contact.

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY RECRUITMENTS

Today, many colleges are expanding their career counseling services and developing closer ties with corporate sponsors. …

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