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Neels & Company - Strategic Business Communication
Trusted Advisor
Gretchen Neels
Gretchen Neels, President, Neels & Company

Dear Trusted Advisor

What one piece of advice would you give me, a new graduate, to ensure success at my new position as a research analyst at a large consulting firm?
J.J., Boston, MA

Dear J. J.,

Congratulations on your new job! I’ve got loads of advice, but my number one suggestion is to listen. Listen to your manager when he or she gives you an assignment and take notes! Listen to your co-workers who have longevity at the firm to learn more about its culture and unwritten rules of the road. And listen to yourself—do you sound like a know-it-all, or worse, a complainer? You’re learning as you go, and your listening skills will get you farther than anything else at this stage of the game.



Creative Visualization, Wine Made Easy and Total Image Management are three new programs we are offering in our August Summer Slow Down Seminar Series, preparing you for a fabulous fall. Click here to learn more.

Business Etiquette 101 – 30 Absolutely, Never Evers for Business, Dining & First Impressions is yours for the asking this month! For your free copy, click here.

Tight training budget? Consider Core Skills Thursday programs for your staff. At only $45 each, these 30-minute audio casts, produced in conjunction with WestLegalEdcenter, cover all areas of business communication and can be listened to anytime. Click here for program list.



Meet The Parents

Last month,, an extremely entertaining “legal tabloid” website posted excerpts from a NYU Law School’s career services department memo, entitled “How Not to Succeed as a Summer Associate.” It outlined some excellent career advice for students embarking on summer internships.

The part of the memo I liked best was Real World Examples of Career Limiting Behavior. Here are a few:

  • Summer associate complains about having a windowless office and then claims to have been "promised" a window during the interview process.
  • Summer associate shows up at all firm events involving food, and is so busy eating that they fail to socialize with anyone else.
  • Summer associate refuses to work past 7:00 p.m. or on weekends.
  • Summer associate refuses to make edits to a draft brief because "I was an English major in college and I know your edits are incorrect."

Any of the above sound familiar?

Some twenty-somethings are arriving at the workplace this summer, and you can bet this fall, with unbelievable levels of entitlement (office with a view, please), poor manners (pass the shrimp), set work hours (I don’t do weekends), and unbridled self-confidence (your edits are incorrect).

Feedback from students who attend the Core Skills programs we facilitate has been mixed. The majority enjoy learning about the correct way to eat at the table, how to give a proper hand-shake, the art of making small talk, and what to wear to make a good impression, while others do not. Here is some feedback from one firm’s summer class:

  • “How to Dress” could have been replaced by a 30 minute BlackBerry tutorial.
  • No etiquette lessons, thank you.
  • I thought the etiquette training could have been left out.

We also heard “patronizing,” “irrelevant,” “condecending,” and “not useful.”

Hmm, seems like there’s a major disconnect here. After riding the self-esteem express from cradle to college, it’s practically impossible for some of Gen Y’s finest to accept that their behavior in the workplace is in any way career limiting, until it’s too late. As the economy tightens, jobs continue to be outsourced, and Baby Boomers delay retirement, new grads will do well to pay more attention to the softer side of their careers.

© 2008 Neels & Company - All Rights Reserved

We are the leading provider of soft skills training to professional services firms, covering all areas of business communication.

Neels & Company – Strategic Business Communication
P. O. Box 623, Boston, MA 02117
800-975-7031 ext. 701
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