Preparing for professionalism with ESPM

April 17, 2017

ESPM students brainstorm how to address a professor for a recommendation through email.“What is your dream job? What job are you applying for? Do they match?” As the Spring semester nears its end and employers begin recruitment for internships and part-time jobs, many undergraduates are thrown into the professional world unsure exactly how to  pursue their dreams or whether they have the skills they need to thrive.

Understanding the difficulties of transitioning from school to work, Berkeley Connect ESPM graduate mentor Adrian Lu is eager to help students with their professional development. Disillusioned with the corporate world after working as an intellectual property lawyer in Silicon Valley, Lu aims to balance between building practical knowledge and establishing a space for personal reflection. Lu encourages students to strive for a position they care about, reminding them, “as undergraduates, this is your time to be idealistic.”

At a recent small-group meeting, Lu began by asking  students to reflect upon their career goals, He then drew their attention to the article “Writing Effective Emails” from MindTools. He reviewed the fundamental strategies for writing emails and then shared his personal insight. According to MindTools, emails “caused tension, confusion, or other negative consequences for 64 percent of working professionals.” In order to avoid these negative emotions, Lu asked the students to practice writing emails for three different scenarios:

  1. Write to a professor/stranger requesting an informational interview, research position, or job.
  2. Write to a professor/supervisor for reference letter.
  3. You’ve messed up something at work. Write an apology to your team and supervisor.

Berkeley Connectors broke into pairs and addressed these different workplace scenarios as Lu walked around the classroom to answer questions and review student emails. Every now and then, Lu  would address the classroom to offer advice. Whereas MindTools presented general tips to writing effective emails, Lu’s tips were directly related to the students as they approached the summer break.

Lu explained the safest way to address faculty would be with the title of “Professor.” He advised students to review the professor’s papers and formulate specific questions about their research, noting “Professors love it when people read their papers.”  

Lu also reminded students to ask pointed questions, asking for a specific follow-up meeting, “Would you have time to meet April 20 at 3pm?” rather than offering, “Let me know when you are available for an appointment.”

Understanding the value of personal advice, Lu ended the class with a discussion. In groups of four and five, students shared their pointers about job interviews: “Don’t over-embellish the positions you’ve had…Be prepared for the question, ‘So tell me about yourself’…Remember, they are looking for someone. You are bringing value to them…Create a document with all the interview questions you have encountered,” and many others.

Lu’s professional development workshop provided an interactive space for students to hear from their mentor and peers. I personally learned several new tricks to apply in my job search and was reminded to follow my passions when applying to jobs myself!

posted by Gloria Choi

Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant