W. P. Carey Alumni Share What Hindsight Has Taught Them

We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What is one thing you wish you would have known before starting your first professional role?

Here are the 8 tips they shared:

  • Take the Job With the Best Learning Program
  • Learn How to Think, Not What to Think
  • Hard Work Gets Rewarded 
  • Ask More Questions
  • Don’t Settle
  • Become Highly Coachable 
  • Nurture Curiosity and Keep Problem Solving
  • The Journey is a Road Not a Mountain

Take the Job With the Best Learning Program

Don’t pick your first job based on salary. Instead, choose the job where you’ll learn the most skills, even for low pay, with an established company offering you robust employee education.

What you’ll learn in your first job convinces your second job’s hiring manager to woo you with more responsibility and more income. Now is the time to pay yourself forward by building a great resume that sets the stage for a fast-growth career.

Michael Moses, BS Marketing ‘00, Telmar

Learn How to Think, Not What to Think

In a world in which the rate of change and new information are increasing, focus on developing skills that will teach you how to think, as opposed to what to think.

Many business problems, and the factors and contexts that feed into them, will change quickly. So you can’t rely entirely on your memory or previous associations.

In the times you will be living in, with so much information being thrown at you, it’s more important to have the raw thinking skills that can help you break any sort of new problem down, categorize its information, and then be able to form your own opinion.

Ironically, one way to do this is to study things that don’t change or that change very slowly, such as the common patterns of nature.

Firas Marafie, BS Supply Chain Management & CIS ‘11, Yext

Hard Work Gets Rewarded 

Marketing agencies are notorious for grueling hours and tough assignments, but for really hard workers, it’s the fastest way to get ahead in your career. Every project you’re handed will test the limits of your own competencies and help you build new ones. The agency model is inherently incentivized to give high performers those juicy high-visibility projects that look great on your resume. 

Candice Trebus, MBA Marketing ’16, Skillz Inc.

Ask More Questions

I wish I would have known the value of asking questions before jumping to conclusions. I was pretty confident and was always talking about how I thought things worked in the world.

In retrospect I missed some early personal and professional growth because I was too busy sharing my opinions, rather than humbly seeking advice and actively listening to those with more experience.

I believe the future belongs to those who ask the most thoughtful questions, not those with the cleverest answers.

Matthew White, BS Finance ‘08, Storefront

Don’t Settle

The one thing I wished I had known before starting my first professional role was the importance of hiring the right people for your team. Earlier in my career, I made the mistake once or twice of hiring a candidate I wasn’t fully convinced would be the right fit for the team. Instead of going with my instincts, I went ahead and hired them anyway. Long story short, the employee did not last and instead damaged the cohesiveness of the team. The moral of the story is don’t settle on a candidate, especially if you have doubts during the hiring process. 

Paul Taylor, MBA ‘09, Purdys Chocolatier

Become Highly Coachable 

Healthy conflict is necessary and advantageous if we are ready to receive constructive feedback. The best performers are highly coachable and prepared to make adjustments every day. Our goal is to be coachable like an athlete and eager to receive minor feedback to improve quickly. Over time, the performance gap between these performers and average employees will not even be comparable.

Edward Pinela, MBA ‘17, Lightray Solutions

Nurture Curiosity and Keep Problem Solving

There are infinitely more opportunities out there than what you think is available. If you think you need to settle for what you’ve done before or the advertised job, think again. There’s something that you will feel fulfilled doing because it inspires you to create and build value and all you have to do is find it and momentum will build. Nurture your curiosity and keep problem solving so you become so valuable you’re irreplaceable. Before you know it, you’re chasing your dream. 

Hank Watt, BS Finance ‘04, Nature’s Wild Berry

The Journey is a Road Not a Mountain

The game will have you convinced that your professional career is a mountain and that you’ll have to keep climbing towards a summit. Whether it’s salaries or titles it’ll seem normal to stay focused on moving up, but know there isn’t going to be a day where you’re finally “on top” and look down . . . It’ll be more like a road with different twists and turns that you’ll eventually “look back” at. That doesn’t mean you don’t have goals and stay committed to them, it’s more that some things will come and go, and you don’t want to miss the purposeful moments that were meant for you along the way. 

Jaeho Lee, MBA Marketing ‘16, Freedom Financial Network

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center