5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Nana Jr. Bekoe-Sakyi
January 23, 2019
5 Questions Your Supervisor Wants You to Ask
Have you ever been lost? This is not a euphemism for anything. I am using the word “lost” in its most literal sense. It's that moment when you have walked for over an hour, and somehow you end up exactly where you began. Walking in circles, confused and disoriented. Such moments are characterized by a feeling of helplessness. When you start a new job, you may experience moments where you feel confused. You may feel lost. In those moments, one of the best things that you can do is to ask for directions. Most people in the workplace are eager to help you succeed. However, mentors are more likely to help a self-starter, or somebody who demonstrates they are willing to take initiative. So here are a few questions your supervisors want you to ask them. 1. “Who in the office do you recommend I get to know?”via GIPHYThis question indicates two things. First, it shows you have a desire to get acquainted with colleagues, which immediately categorizes you as a team player. Second, this question indicates that you have tact. If you do not know every person in your workplace, introducing yourself to a shortlist of folks will make for an office space with more friends and mentors who know you. This is the best way to establish yourself as a valuable member of the team.2. Following a project submission, ask: “How can I improve my work?” One of the best ways to encourage constructive criticism is to provide work worth critiquing. When you have completed work satisfactorily, open yourself up to suggestions from your supervisor. Even if some of the advice seems a bit harsh, remember that five minutes of brutal honesty may save you five years of professional embarrassment due to avoidable errors. 3. “How would you like to be informed of my progress?” Your supervisor is busy. You probably would not have your job if they were not continuously preoccupied. With this in mind, consider establishing timetables that suit your supervisor's needs as well as your own. 4. “Are you facing any challenges with which I can assist?” via GIPHYAsking this question shows them you understand the fact that your supervisor is busy and you wish to reduce their overall workload. It does not matter what you help them with, they will be glad to let you know what projects they are involved in. This also provides you with an opportunity to “earn your stripes” and demonstrate your abilities. *Remember, under-promise and over-perform.*5. “Where do you see this department going in the next year?” via GIPHYThis is a unique question to ask your supervisor. Essentially, this question demonstrates you are committed to the long-term success of your department. When supervisors see you are truly interested in the teams success overall, they will want to include you in their journey. This will give you a window into the past, present, and future of the department and perhaps the organization as a whole. You will have a better understanding of where you fit into their story, and this will keep you from getting lost in your own.
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
Ben Woodward
January 7, 2019
Exceeding Goals is Great, but What About Quality?
At the beginning of 2018, my boss and I planned a number of goals for the coming year. The competitive streak in me enjoys targets; they're an opportunity to exceed expectations and push yourself to excel.By the end of 2018, the Careers Division had significantly exceeded the targets set. We were thrilled.Following the success of 2018, the question remains, how does the Division continue to improve in 2019? By continuing to increase the numbers of people who learn essential skills, but also to never allow a focus on numbers to hinder quality. It's important for you and I to do what we do well.via GIPHYAs you start to think about your own career goals in 2019, I encourage you to not only think about how to stand out but to increase the quality of your output in 2019. Here are three ways you can improve the quality of your work.1. Listen to feedback and act on it.Whether it's from your boss, a colleague, or your clients and customers, feedback is precious. If you're fortunate enough to have people around you who are frank and give you honest feedback, don't allow your ego to prevent you from accepting it. If you don't have naturally frank people giving you feedback, invite and encourage feedback. It's vital to seek improvement in everything you do.When you get feedback, make an effort to note it down and figure out how you can act upon it. For example, if you organize an event, send surveys out and make it your mission to communicate how you've acted on the feedback to the person who gave it.via GIPHY2. Identify talent on your team and use it.Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your team is a critical skill, whether you're the manager or not. When working on projects, share out responsibilities based on what aspects of the work you and your colleagues will excel at. If you have strengths, offer to apply them to the team as a whole and not just your projects. Likewise, if you have weaknesses, you can ask your colleagues to assist. You can also ask your colleagues to help train you in the aspects of your job you find confusing.via GIPHY3. Allow yourself time to make improvements.Improving the quality of your work takes time whether it's through training or effective planning. Assign yourself time in the day for quality control. For example, if you take surveys from an event you ran, write up a summary of the feedback -- what went well and what didn't and how you intend to act on it. Submit the summary to your boss, so you have accountability.Remember, knowing what you do well is just as important as knowing your weaknesses. If you know what you do well, you can apply the same tactics to other projects.via GIPHYFinally, if there are any skills you'd like to improve in the New Year, the Leadership Institute has many training opportunities for you to learn to be more effective in your career: https://www.leadershipinstitute.org/Training/?Training=Career.
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
Ben Woodward
November 21, 2018
Building Coalitions in the Conservative Movement
I love Thanksgiving. Being from the UK, I had not celebrated this wonderful holiday until moving to Washington, D.C. two years ago. The sentiment of this holiday is important; being with family, learning to appreciate the opportunities we have, and of course, forgetting about calories for the day!In your professional life, the sentiment of coming together is important too. Professionals depend heavily on each other as do organizations to assist each other to accomplish mutual goals. Your ability to build coalitions can make you an asset; here are four steps to building coalitions. 1. When you start your next project, identify potential coalition partnersThe best way to do this is to break down the various aspects of your project. Figure out the steps you need to take to complete the project and dimensions of the job you can do yourself. For work you can achieve internally, you probably want to avoid burdening others. For work where you require another person's expertise, first look internally within your organization before approaching partner organizations. Identify your coalition partner based on those who are most helpful, organizations closely aligned with yours, and professionals who you know you can work with. 2. Figure out what exactly what you need from your coalition partnerBefore you approach your coalition partner, know your ask. You want to avoid a situation where the coalition partner agrees to something without knowing exactly what is expected of them. You should be clear from the start.Some of the reasons you might approach a coalition partner are for their expertise, and perhaps they specialize in an area of policy you do not understand. Other times you might require the use of their workspace because it is in a prominent location. Most of the time when I approach a coalition partner it is for the use of their connections. Other times, you may want their sponsorship for an event. Whatever it is, make sure you know what you are looking for. via GIPHY3. Make a convincing pitch to your coalition partnerYou can do this by phone, email, or meeting (usually it depends on the nature and size of the ask). The key to a good pitch is a clear focus on how the partnership will benefit their organization. Perhaps you will sponsor one of their events in exchange; you'll give them name recognition, it doesn't cost them anything, you'll provide them with an email list, etc. When making your pitch, lay out a clear plan, timeline, budget, whatever your coalition partner needs to assist you. It's essential that you are easy to work with so that organizations want to help you again in the future. Also, be ready to answer questions or follow up with relevant information. If your ask requires a financial commitment, prepare to negotiate. via GIPHY4. Follow through with your plan and keep a clear line of communication If your coalition partner agrees to assist you, open a group chat on whatever platform you like best where you can share information and list out the respective tasks and dates for completion. This will keep all parties updated on the progress of your mutual project. You may also wish to schedule more meetings and phone calls to strategize and keep everyone on track. Make sure you follow through on whatever you agreed to in exchange for their help. If you decided to pay them, share contact information, etc. you should be prompt in your delivery following the completion of your mutual project. Finally, coalitions are a necessary good in your professional life. They strengthen the bond between organizations and the movement is better off for it. Make sure you uphold your organization's reputation as a reliable partner.via GIPHY
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Ben Woodward
November 5, 2018
Meet the Youngest Vice President in The Heritage Foundation's History
Just over a year ago, I spoke on a panel about non-conventional jobs in the conservative movement. Our task: to educate young professionals about the wide variety of career paths available to them.I was struck by the quality of my fellow panelists and, even as a panelist myself, how much I could learn from them.Among the speakers was Andrew McIndoe, a highly-talented development professional from The Heritage Foundation who served as Director of Donor Relations. Andrew had previously served as Morton Blackwell's intern, an experience that helped shape his career for years to come.Today, Andrew is Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation, a position he was promoted to just a few weeks ago. Andrew is the youngest vice president in Heritage's history and, with his more than 50 staff, is responsible for ensuring Heritage has all the resources it needs to advance conservative principles in the public policy process.I asked Andrew what advice he could offer young people hoping to follow his example:“I'd tell people not to try and replicate the success of another professional; instead, strike out on your own. Exemplify a strong work ethic, eagerly take on any task that comes your way, and do what you say you are going to do.”Andrew went on to say much of his success was because he invested in his professional development. Andrew attended many Leadership Institute trainings, interned at several conservative organizations, and networked and followed up with everyone he met. Most importantly, Andrew worked hard to build his reputation as a results-oriented and dynamic leader.When asked what he most looked forward to in his new role, Andrew said he was excited to partner with thousands of Heritage donors, committed patriots who are deeply concerned about the future of their country. Andrew enjoys his role as a “philanthropic consultant,” who can hear the dreams and concerns of donors and match them with Heritage's vision and mission.Going back to his early days as a Leadership Institute intern, Andrew remembered how working for Morton influenced his career: “My favorite memories are the many meaningful interactions I had with Morton. Whether it was something as simple as going over a project, or more in-depth conversations, I always left with a pearl of wisdom. Morton exemplifies many of the qualities I try to embody as a leader; humble with a selfless commitment to conservative principles.”In addition to this, Andrew has fond memories of living in the Fred Sacher House, the National Fourth of July Conservative Soirée, and the long-lasting friendships he made. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his one-year-old daughter Lottie and his wife, Haley. The McIndoes live on Capitol Hill and mentor Heritage interns as Resident Advisors in the E.W. Richardson Building. Andrew enjoys spending time in the kitchen with food and wine, playing golf, and travelling. In addition, Andrew just received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and looks forward to bringing a business/private sector ethos into his new role.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
Rachel Gill
October 31, 2018
5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Day of Work
You made it through the grueling process that is the job search, you went to interview after interview until finally you landed the job!All your hard work doesn't stop there. It's a new company with new people and you want to make sure you make the right impression on the first day. Here are some tips to make your first day go as smoothly as possible.1. Eat breakfastYou don't know the office culture yet and you might find yourself taking a later lunch than usual. Avoid getting “hangry” and making a bad first impression by giving yourself enough time in the morning to eat breakfast. As a bonus, you'll hopefully be more awake by the time you reach the office!via GIPHY2. Dress to impressIt is much better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You don't want to show up looking too casual. When you put effort into your appearance it shows that you care how you represent yourself. Companies are interested in employees who will represent themselves and their company well. Being under-dressed will garner attention from your superiors for all the wrong reasons.via GIPHY3. Plan out your route to work ahead of timeMaybe you moved to a new city and there are new traffic patterns. Use Google Maps to estimate how much time it will take you to get to the office. You don't want to be late because you got lost. Your boss will probably be forgiving because it's your first day, but you don't want to start off wasting their time.via GIPHY4. Arrive EarlyBecause you planned out your route ahead of time, you can make sure to arrive early. It shows that you took the initiative to prepare and are ready to hit the ground running and get to work -- which is exactly what you were hired to do! Live by the rule that “10 minutes early is on time and on time is late.”5. Come prepared with your own materialsMost offices will have a desk set up with pens, notepads, and sticky notes. On the off chance that you aren't set up with these things right away, it's always better to have than have not. Make sure you have a notepad to take notes on. The first day is usually full of onboarding information, so be sure to write (or type) it all down.via GIPHYBonus: Ask questionsIn my first job in college, I learned that it was much better to ask questions than do something wrong. Your supervisor will appreciate you asking for clarification before you make a mistake that costs them time and/or the organization money.There's no guarantee that your first day will be a smashing success, but by implementing these tips you can give yourself a fighting chance. Most of the time that's all you'll need to crush your first day.via GIPHY
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
Matthew Patterson
October 29, 2018
Pros and Cons of Full-Time School and Work
“Do I work or go to college?” Most of us ask that tough question of ourselves at some point. However, there is a third option -- do both!via GIPHYNot many people pick this route, and for good reason. However, some people either don't have a choice or it becomes the preferred option with the increased financial support. Here are some benefits and costs of being a full-time employee and student you should consider:Pro: You will get a head start on other graduates! Many people wait to get started in their career or gain experience until after they graduate, and this can prevent them from achieving their desired job right away. Most employers look for both education and work experience.via GIPHYCon: A full-time school schedule and full-time workweek require good time management, especially when simultaneous. It can be a daunting task to find time to do all your school work while maintaining your work ethic on the job, which can lead to undue stress. Pro: Time Management! Once you get it down it can be one of your most valuable assets. Time management is one of the most fundamental and productive skills you can master, and nothing will do it like taking on two full-time obligations.via GIPHYCon: With papers, work projects, and assignments piling up, something will have to give and it's often your social life. This doesn't mean you won't be able to go out and have fun; you will have to put those time management skills to work and find time to cut loose!via GIPHYPro: You will have unique experience. Not many people work and go to school full time. As Robert Frost said, taking the road less travelled makes all the difference. When you are applying to your next job, being able to handle all this work will make you stand out as a motivated multitasker!Con: In the same way it's difficult to find time to go out and have fun, you can also find it difficult to cook a healthy meal or go to the gym. With proper planning and a 24-hour gym nothing is impossible, but it will take a bit more dedication than it would otherwise!As someone who chose to pursue a career and school at the same time, I can say for myself the pros far outweigh the cons. While I occasionally miss going out with my friends or sleeping in after a long day, the payoff is more than worth the temporary lack of comfort.via GIPHY
Balance a Busy Work Schedule with a Healthy Lifestyle
Ben Woodward
October 15, 2018
Balance a Busy Work Schedule with a Healthy Lifestyle
Since moving to Washington, D.C. just over two years ago, I have been in denial about my worst habits. You can probably relate; it is a poor diet, lack of exercise, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Why use a careers blog, however, to talk about health? Taking care of yourself is beneficial to your productivity in the workplace. A poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and excessive drinking can result in fatigue, reduced thought clarity, and higher stress levels. With a busy work schedule, it is easy to let your health slip, causing a vicious cycle. Here are three ways you can balance a busy work schedule and a healthy lifestyle.via GIPHYMeal Preparation Breakfast and dinner are less likely to be unhealthy because you have the distinct advantage of eating them at home. Often people make the mistake of either skipping these important meals or eating out due to lack of time or energy. Lunch is even trickier because it is the one meal you're almost guaranteed to eat at work. Often, this leaves you subject to the food served locally. It is rarely healthy for your body or your wallet. By preparing meals beforehand, you can control your meals and make healthy choices. If like me, you are too tired or lack time on weekdays, find an hour during the weekend to plan and execute your meals for the next five days. If at lunch you still want to join your colleagues, buy a soda with them but eat lunch at your desk in advance.via GIPHYGo to Bed at a Reasonable Hour A good night's sleep has many advantages. First, you will be far more energetic and productive at work if you are sufficiently rested. Beyond the obvious, by going to bed in good time, you will find it much easier to wake up earlier and allow yourself more time to eat breakfast, go to the gym, or arrive to work earlier and get a jump start on the day. If like me, you enjoy watching television and surfing your phone before bed, you should consider reading instead. You are not going to be roped into one YouTube clip after another or be sucked into a Facebook debate. By reading instead, you will relax your mind and find it much easier to fall asleep at the intended hour. Avoid Temptation The workplace is an obstacle course of temptation. Whether it's food left over from an event, a colleague who bakes, a happy hour, or a special occasion, there is always something! This is where your previous meal preparation will come in most helpful. If you have food scheduled or something to appease your appetite like a healthy snack, you are less likely to indulge. The other key here is communication. Make sure your colleagues are aware of your intention to live a healthier lifestyle; they can hold you accountable rather than be part of the problem. via GIPHYBy improving your lifestyle, you will see the results in your work. Your career requires you to be your best every day, so make sure you are setting yourself up to succeed. via GIPHY
Capital in the Capital
Matthew Patterson
October 1, 2018
Capital in the Capital
Do you want to work in the Capitol or Capital? Many people often confuse the two words; with one letter of difference, it's an easy mistake. Whether you want to work in the capitol building or capital city, you should know about the different types of capital, each of which has a unique impact on your life.Social CapitalYour network is your net worth. We have all heard this phrase or a variation of it, particularly if you are in the D.C. area, and it cannot be truer. Not only does knowing more people expand your available opportunities when searching for a job, it can also make you more valuable to the job you have now. If you can pick up the phone and completely bypass the chain of command, you will be invaluable.via GIPHYOne of the most common issues people run into is how to effectively build your social capital and expand it outside of the workplace. One thing you should remember is that everyone you want to have a connection with is a person too. They have (fairly) normal lives, going out to eat, shopping, to the park, so on and so forth. Meeting people at these places, outside the office, can help lead to a great network in the Capital.Human CapitalLiving in the Capital can be a change of pace for those not used to the D.C. scene. As someone coming from a small town in East Tennessee, it was certainly a change for me. One aspect of your capital that can be left on the back burner during this transition is your human capital.via GIPHYYour human capital is your health, and with all the great places to grab a bite to eat or get a drink, it can be easy to not pay this much mind! However, those couple nights out and networking lunches can catch up with you. To help with this, D.C. offers many ways to help with your day to day health, including parks, trails, health food stores, and too many gyms to choose from! Its also important for your human capital to get some adequate sleep; you should never fall asleep at your office because of that Capital night life!Financial CapitalIf there is one thing everyone living in D.C. can agree on, it's not cheap! With some of the highest rent and cost of living in the country, it can be easy to find yourself on a strapped budget. It's important to save money, but up in the Capital it can be hard to justify putting that capital back in the bank.via GIPHYThe little things can help make this a lot easier such as taking the metro or bus instead of Uber, or shopping at Trader Joes instead of Whole Foods. Sure, it might not be as glamorous, but the pay off will be when you're not worried about those plane tickets home or that anniversary with your significant other.
Four Tips to Land a Paid Campaign Position
Matthew Patterson
September 14, 2018
Four Tips to Land a Paid Campaign Position
Full disclosure… political campaigns aren't glamorous; they require long hours, low or no pay, a thick skin, and a lot of stress.But if you can handle all that, working on a political campaign can be one of the most exciting and rewarding careers in the conservative movement. You'll travel, talk to new people about your cause or candidate, be part of a dynamic and close team, and if you win, you'll effect change!Many conservatives hope to work on campaigns, but most of us can't afford to go without salary. With only a handful of paid jobs to go around, I'll give you four tips to land a paid position on a campaign.1. Strike while the iron is hotTo get involved in a campaign, try to find one early in the election cycle. By looking for a campaign early on, you can narrow down your pick of what kind of race you want to work, and in what capacity.Check Election Commission filings to find which candidates are raising funds for the race. The more money a campaign has, the more it can pay. While it may be more exciting to work for an underdog, unless they are self-funding or raising comparable amounts to their opponents, it may be difficult to get that paycheck. via GIPHYThe main advantage to finding a campaign early is that they likely don't have all their positions filled, which means they are hiring!2. Humble YourselfUnless you have previous election experience, or extremely relevant experience, the campaign may not bring you on immediately for a paid position.However, by offering to come on as a volunteer or intern you can show the staff and the candidate that you believe in their campaign and are willing to get your hands dirty. This will go a long way when time comes to fill permeant positions, so hold tight and pull your weight.via GIPHY3. Make your intentions knownCampaigns are generally tight with their budgets, spending every dollar where it will have the most impact. If the campaign team does not know you are seeking a paid position, it may never come.Be honest with the campaign manager, let them know you are seeking a paid role on the team. If you cannot afford to pay your bills, you won't be able to do much help for the campaign.By letting the campaign manager know your intentions, it will allow them to give you more specific tasks to gauge your aptitude for your desired role. This will help show the campaign staff that your pay would be money well spent.via GIPHY4. Always Be ClosingThere is no sleep during election season. Whether it's yard signs, flyers, events, or meetings, there is always an opportunity to get more votes.Always be closing on your goal, be the “3:00 AM type”.Be the person who will put out yard signs all night, walk in four different parades the next day, and still make it to that public speaking engagement that evening. Motivation and passion are what you must demonstrate to the campaign team.Make yourself vital, and that paid position won't be far behind!via GIPHY
10 Myths of Leadership
Carmen Diaz
August 6, 2018
10 Myths of Leadership
Last year, 85% of employees reported dissatisfaction with their jobs, placing much of the blame on supervisors and bosses. The majority of Americans are unhappy with their superiors, yet the majority of employees are unwilling to change their circumstances and invest in their own professional development.Leadership becomes ineffective when it is mistakenly defined by title rather than conduct. Failing to recognize every person as an accountable leader leads to over-reliance on superiors, whether they're managers, coaches, or government officials.Too many brilliant and competent people don't pursue leadership roles because they think they don't fit the mold. It's time to redefine leadership and reveal the potential hiding behind these myths.Myth 1: Leaders aren't followersLeadership potential is often revealed in diligent followership. You can earn both respect and trust by being both a coach and a team player. via GIPHYMyth 2: The leader is the loudest person in the roomArrogance and ego are a recipe for short-term success. Don't earn the reputation of dominating conversation, bragging, or shouting people down.Myth 3: Employees aren't entrepreneurial You don't need to start your own business to apply entrepreneurial principles to your work. Always show initiative and guide decisions to contribute to the improvement and innovation of your organization.Myth 4: Extroverted leaders are preferredExtroverts are more likely to network and eagerly seek opportunity, resulting in the misconception that introverts are less desirable candidates. Introverts tend to be introspective and observant, naturally making them thoughtful listeners. These are valuable traits to managerial roles, which require conflict resolution and human resource management. Identify your comparative advantage to develop your own leadership skill and style.Myth 5: Leaders don't ask for helpSimple overseers are less likely to ask for help and perceive doing so as weakness, but competent leaders will delegate and show that they trust their team.via GIPHYMyth 6: I'm not qualified to be a leaderEarning multiple degrees and a wealth of influence are conventional ways to gain credibility, but they don't guarantee competent leadership. Leadership in practice, rather than degrees, proves you're qualified.Myth 7: Leaders know all the answersThe President of the United States needs an entire Cabinet of advisors. No one has all the answers.Myth 8: Leadership is determined by titleChief roles and managerial titles aren't available for everyone, but anyone willing to develop and act as a leader will be respected and considered as such.Myth 9: The leader's idea is bestAs managers move up the ladder, they become more reliant on others to focus on day-to-day operations, allowing the true leader to better specify areas for improvement and explore ideas for innovation.Myth 10: Leaders don't take breaksEven the most ambitious, competent, and enthusiastic leaders need time to relax. Constantly checking email during weekends and vacations is one habit likely to cause you to burn out.Leadership isn't limited to special roles or just reserved for specific personality types. The perfect opportunity isn't waiting behind an academic degree and new promotion.Wherever you are in your career, leadership is a skill, a practice, and a choice. via GIPHY
Madeline Rainwater -- 2012 Intern Back at LI
Patricia Simpson Rausch
May 23, 2018
Madeline Rainwater -- 2012 Intern Back at LI
Enjoy getting to know Madeline Rainwater, LI's new Junior Systems Technician. This is an informal interview series with employees of the Leadership Institute to let you get to know us beyond our trainings. The questions ask them to describe what makes them tick and their experience with LI at various levels.1. What made you want to work at the Leadership Institute? It's actually more a question of what's kept me from working at the Leadership Institute. After I interned at LI in 2012, I knew I wanted to come back in some capacity, but I just didn't have the right skillset at the time, and wasn't sure what I wanted to do long term. I've spent the last few years in a variety of different workplaces, and have since discovered that I love technology and I still love LI. I'm very happy to be back!2. What unique skills and background do you bring to your new position and how do you hope to use them? I have a background in communications and customer service, both very applicable for a junior technician. It's easy to get lost in technological terms and concepts, and I hope to be a guide and resource to everyone at LI.3. How does the DC area differ from your hometown? I used to live in Chico, California, which is in a lot of ways the polar opposite of DC. It's mostly agricultural land and more of a Mediterranean climate. 4. Who has had the most impact on your political philosophy? Frederic Bastiat. The Law was nothing short of a total shift for me and how I thought of government policy, and also was my first real introduction to libertarian-inclined philosophy.5. If you could visit any destination in the world, where would it be and why? New Zealand – the scenery alone would make the trip worth it for me!6. What is your favorite family tradition? Every year after Thanksgiving, my parents buy a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and asks that everyone help to complete it before New Year's day. It's a great way for people to engage in an activity together without making things overly structured, and it's so satisfying to play a part in something with the whole family.7. What are your thoughts about pineapple on pizza? A quality Hawaiian pizza can be hard to find, but if you pretend that the sweet-tart pineapple and salty Canadian bacon doesn't work well together, you're just wrong.
Hannah-Catherine -- from TV News Reporter to Media Trainer
Patricia Simpson Rausch
May 4, 2018
Hannah-Catherine -- from TV News Reporter to Media Trainer
Enjoy getting to know Hannah-Catherine Smith, LI's new Communications Training and Studios Coordinator. This is an informal interview series with employees of the Leadership Institute to let you get to know us beyond our trainings. The questions ask them to describe what makes them tick and their experience with LI at various levels.What made you want to work at the Leadership Institute? I wanted to work at the Leadership Institute because I truly believe in the value of education and equipping students with the necessary tools to be successful.During my internship at The Heritage Foundation, I learned a tremendous amount about public policy and how conservative policy can positively impact our local, national, and global community. With my communications background, I realized the importance of effectively disseminating these messages, particularly through media.LI seemed like the perfect marriage of education and conservative values. I am so excited to be in the field I love for a cause I believe in.What unique skills and background do you bring to your new position and how do you hope to use them? I was a television news reporter here in Northern Virginia for about a year after college. I covered Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Loudon, and Fauquier Counties so I know the area very well and am excited to be in the NOVA community!I was a multi-media journalist which basically means I did absolutely everything by myself. That meant pitching stories, shooting and editing all of my video, reporting, writing, and even going live on-camera alone. I also worked the nightside shift, so that came with its own challenges. My first job stretched me in a variety of ways because I had to learn so much, so quickly. Although it was hard work, I'm so thankful for the spectrum of skills I gained from that experience and can't wait to apply them at LI.Because I was a member of the media, I understand how reporters think, and most importantly, how media bias happens. I think it's so important to train conservative leaders for success in communications. If you moved here from another area, how does the DC area differ from your hometown? I'm from the D.C. area! I grew up in Huntingtown, MD (right on the Chesapeake Bay) and am so happy to be here to stay!Who has had the most impact on your political philosophy? I look up to my dad for my political philosophy the most. He's a colonel in the United States Air Force, so I grew up with an understanding of service to one's country.For my father, his service stems from a posture of gratitude to those who came before him, something I believe to be a key piece of conservatism. I admire him for being part of something greater than himself, putting mission first and people always.What are your thoughts about pineapple on pizza? As a conservative, I respect each individual's liberty to live how they choose, but for me, pineapple on pizza is a hard pass.
Supervising an Intern:  No Ordinary Management Role
Ben Woodward
April 13, 2018
Supervising an Intern: No Ordinary Management Role
My team has constant conversations about how we can make the intern program as appealing as possible for young conservatives looking for their first start in the movement. If you've supervised an intern, you'll understand there's a lot more required of you than project delegation. The responsibility is on you to be their boss, but also their mentor, guiding them through the process and giving them the tools necessary to create their path.As an LI intern just three years ago this summer, I was fortunate to have a supervisor who gave me projects of high responsibility, was quick to point out good work, and as quick to tell me where I could improve. Most importantly, my supervisor invested heavily in my professional development.There are three pillars of being an effective intern supervisor.via GIPHY1. Delegate projects of high responsibility and push your intern out of their comfort zone I often hear it said that it would be quicker to do work yourself than give it to an intern whose work you will only have to edit. Of course it would, but your intern is not there to do your job for you, they're there to learn. When your intern first starts, you should hold an introductory meeting to establish your expectations and figure out what your intern is hoping to get out of the experience. This will help you understand the skills you can teach them and delegate challenging projects accordingly. Hold a weekly meeting to ensure your interns are meeting their goals.By giving your interns projects of high responsibility with clear expectations and deadlines, they will quickly become a useful contributor if they are up to the task.2. Be their boss, not their friendDon't get me wrong; I like the interns who come through LI and enjoy getting to know them and supporting their careers. But your intern needs you to be their boss and their mentor. Too many supervisors fail to establish the relationship early on, they complain about their interns without expressing concerns directly and wonder why their interns keep screwing up.Hold your interns to a high standard and make your expectations clear. When your intern exceeds your expectations, be quick to express your gratitude. For example, if an intern outside the division I work in helps me without being prompted, I like to email their supervisor, so they get credit.When an intern doesn't meet your expectations, your role as their supervisor is to make them aware. If you edit their work, explain why. Or if they come in late, call them out on it before it becomes a habit. via GIPHY3. Alert them to networking and professional development opportunitiesMost people new to the DC area or wherever their internship is taking place will be unfamiliar with the opportunities they have to attend networking events, explore the city, and invest in their skills through training and policy discussions.Your responsibility as a supervisor is to help your intern hit the ground running. Wherever possible, forward them recommendations of training and events they should attend and take them with you so you can introduce them to important contacts.Work experience is only half the purpose here; the goal should be to give your intern a comprehensive experience, so they gain the skills, the knowledge, and the contacts to secure a full-time job. via GIPHY
Returning After a Long Break From Work
Ben Woodward
April 2, 2018
Returning After a Long Break From Work
Returning to work after a long vacation is like going to the dentist. It was once in the distant future, something in the back of your mind, but now the moment has arrived. Ok, maybe I am a little dramatic… but getting into work mode after a vacation whether it's a long weekend or a full-fledged trip to the Bahamas is difficult. First, you have to transition from relaxed mode to work mode. Second, the work probably didn't stop flooding in just because you were on vacation and now you have a backlog to deal with.So what's the best way to manage your first week back?via GIPHY Do something to boost your moodJust because you have to work does not mean you cannot treat yourself. Start your day with a lavish breakfast (if you're me, that means chocolate chip pancakes and bacon); plan lunch with a friend or something to look forward to in the evening.Allowing yourself small treats on your first day or week back will improve your mood and get you through the initial transition from vacation to work mode.Create a to-do list and update your calendarI like to do this the night before I return to work, so I am ready to hit the ground running. Sit down and create a list of your priorities for the coming days. What will you have to organize? Who do you need to meet with? It's essential you're clear about your priorities while familiarizing yourself with all aspects of your upcoming week.Putting everything into a shared calendar is a great way for your boss and colleagues to see your agenda and understand what you're doing to catch up.via GIPHYRead your emailsGo through your emails and determine which ones are a priority. It's a good idea to deal with the simple ones the night before, so they don't weigh on your mind later. I like to respond to every email even if I cannot do it right away. Acknowledging the email will prevent people chasing you later on, which wastes time and puts you under unnecessary pressure.Give yourself a window during your first day back where your only job is to manage priority emails.Talk to your bossAsk your boss for a meeting on your first day back. This is useful for two reasons; first, they have probably been picking up the slack while you were away and so it's crucial they update you on everything you've missed and any other developments which may affect you.Second, it's your chance to update your boss on how you plan to catch up and what is on your agenda that week. It will reassure your boss and ensure they're aware of your increased workload over the coming days.via GIPHYFinally, take some time to catch up with your colleaguesYou haven't seen your colleagues for a while, and they're likely to wonder how your vacation went.Did you try their recommendations, take pictures, miss anything big at the office? Consistent interruptions by colleagues coming to your desk makes it challenging to be productive. I recommend inviting your colleagues out to lunch that day so you can catch up.Returning to work after a vacation sucks. There's no way around it. But if you follow these steps, you can stay organized and ease the transition.
The Five Stages of Grief Following a Job Rejection
Ben Woodward
March 19, 2018
The Five Stages of Grief Following a Job Rejection
Nobody likes rejection whatever form it takes, asking for a favor, a date, a job. Most of us spend our lives trying to avoid rejection.But when it comes to job hunting, you have no choice but to put yourself out there.When I graduated university, I had done a couple of internships and worked on campaigns. Confident I would find a job in the UK Parliament, I began submitting applications for every vacancy with a conservative member. Getting interviews was not too difficult; the hard part was turning those interviews into job offers.After a couple of rejections I started to feel worn down, but to coin a cheesy line, “what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.”I learned from each rejection and eventually got a great job. Here is how you should handle the five stages of grief following rejection.via GIPHY1. ResponseMost interviewers send you a rejection by email unless you have gone through a lengthy process in which they may have the courtesy to call you. First things first, thank them for their time, tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and politely ask for feedback.This is important. It will form the base of future preparations so you don't go into your next interview blind. Thanking the interviewer is important. You never know when you will meet them again.2. DenialIt's ok to be upset or frustrated by the process so long as you don't express it to the recruiter. Hopefully, you're applying for jobs you are excited about, and therefore it's tough to receive bad news.Treat yourself to a nice meal, a night out with your friends, or binge-watch The Office for a few hours. After that, get over it!via GIPHY3. ReflectionThis is the point where you start to ask yourself what went wrong. There are multiple reasons you may not receive a job offer: sometimes the competition is fierce; perhaps you applied for a job you weren't ready for; or maybe you didn't prepare and show the best of yourself during the interview.To inform how you approach interviews in future, look carefully over your feedback. I was once told I was “overqualified.” Ironically, I was not getting the more senior jobs either! But I let the feedback motivate me -- after all, it was something of a compliment and convinced me I could be successful with another office. If it has something to do with your interview technique, take a moment to read the jobseeker guide or reach out to LI's Careers Division for support.4. AcceptanceAccept you did not get the job and start applying again right away. The key with any application is quality over quantity, which means your resume is tailored to the position you are applying for and your cover letter is written from a blank sheet of paper (no templates).5. Successvia GIPHYYou've gotten over your recent rejection; you've submitted several outstanding job applications; and now you're being called to your next interview. Think carefully about your feedback. How can you reassure the next recruiter they should hire you over all the other candidates?Perhaps you need to do more research, have stronger answers to standard questions, or be more confident in your body language. Don't forget; you can ask LI's Careers Division for a practice interview and receive frank, constructive feedback.You will find a job; the key is to be proactive and learn from the experience. Good luck!The Leadership Institute's ConservativeJobs.com is the one-stop shop for conservative job seekers and employers. Whether you are a polished executive or a young up-and-comer, ConservativeJobs.com works to help you find the right job in public policy, government, the news media, business, or on Capitol Hill.Contact the Leadership Institute directly or log on to ConservativeJobs.com to get started right now.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Working Remotely
Ben Woodward
March 5, 2018
Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Working Remotely
Some career paths are almost entirely exclusive to one location. Banking has Manhattan, the film industry has Hollywood, and national politics has Washington, D.C. Even if you find opportunities to pursue your ambitions outside the central hub, often you will struggle to earn as much money, gain promotion, or enjoy the same relationship with your bosses when you work remotely. However, working remotely has many benefits. If you hope to start a family or other circumstances require you to move, working miles from your office allows you to work in the industry you love in the place you need to live. More and more, conservative job-seekers ask me for advice about working remotely. At the Leadership Institute, some staff work away from the Arlington office, and they do a tremendous job. via GIPHYSo here are four questions to ask yourself before working remotely.1. How do you motivate yourself?Some people are simply more productive if they have the regular encouragement of their colleagues and bosses. Personally, I'm a relatively independent worker, but even I enjoy daily interaction with colleagues to bounce ideas around. Other workers are quite happy to bury their heads in a project and not emerge until they have a finished product.Other staff have the personal self-discipline to set hours and goals for themselves, which they can meet without the office environment to encourage them. Ask yourself honestly; what kind of worker are you? Someone who works remotely must be able to exercise self-discipline and work in solitude.via GIPHY2. Have you earned it?Let's face it; you're asking a lot. You're asking your bosses to trust you to be productive when you're out of sight; you're asking to be a little less effective because you won't be present for meetings or for colleagues to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps your organization even has to pay for you to return once a month and for significant events. It's also inconvenient for your bosses who won't be able to access you as easily.So why would they say yes? Usually, because you've worked for an organization for a while, you've proved your value, and the inconvenience is worth keeping you around. Before you ask to work remotely, try to assess whether you've earned it. 3. Is your home environment conducive to productivity?To be successful working remotely, you'll need to create a semi-office environment for yourself where you can be as productive as you would have been on site. It's no good trying to work with distractions from children, pets, or the hustle and bustle of your home life. If your home life is not conducive to work, you may need to consider finding somewhere else you can work -- either a coffee shop, a library, or something similar. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you and motivate you to succeed is very important. Make sure you communicate with those around you about what you need from them to ensure you get work done.via GIPHY4. Can you weather the impact on your career?The reality of a successful career is it doesn't end at 5:30 pm or whenever you clock out at the end of the day. A successful career is more than the tangible work you produce day by day. It's the connections you make, the speeches you give, the meetings you attend, the day-to-day conversations with your bosses, colleagues, and other professionals outside of your organization. Working remotely means you won't be physically present at the table, or at any other table unless you specifically travel. Like it or not, that will make it difficult for you to compete with your colleagues for promotion. I tell you these things, not to discourage you from working remotely, but to make sure you take the decision seriously and ensure you're ready to go above and beyond to continue to prove your worth.Many people have very successful remote careers. Make sure you do too!via GIPHY
Five mistakes to avoid as an intern
Ben Woodward
February 5, 2018
Five mistakes to avoid as an intern
My internship went by too fast. I learned valuable lessons, made friends for life, and secured a full-time job. Overall, not bad! As well as learning what to do, I learned something equally important -- what not to do.Since then, I've seen many interns go through the Leadership Institute and met a lot more from across Washington, D.C. I've found myself in the amusing position of advising interns against some of the very things my fellow interns and I did.All interns make mistakes. Most are very forgivable, others make interns very difficult to like. All of these mistakes are avoidable.Here are five common mistakes interns make in no particular order.Over-familiarity with staffAs you build trust with your supervisors and other staff, you should feel comfortable getting to know them, asking for advice, and more responsibility. In fact, you should aim to build your network within the office as early as you can.However, too often interns get very comfortable around staff. I've seen interns drunk at bars, complain openly about supervisors, and share private details about their lives. An intern once asked their coordinator's boss to a house birthday party. Practice caution and stay in work mode when you're around staff.via GIPHYAtention to detailI can sympathize on this one; I'm guilty of it too. I hope you caught my mistake by the way. An essential part of my job is communications; I spend a lot of time writing emails, blogs, marketing material, and more. As a result, my interns do the same. Simply proofreading your work can be a game changer. Diligence and pride in your output is something every employer looks for, and as an intern, you should aim to build a reputation for this early on. If your work requires minimum editing, you'll become an asset quickly.AttitudeYou can ask any supervisor and they'll tell you their pet peeve is a bad attitude. Interns who complain about tasks and are unwilling to do anything beyond the scope of their day-to-day work drive bosses crazy. On one occasion, while holding a networking event, an intern was asked to help with registration, to which they responded: “I thought I was here to drink not work.” True story!Organizations invest time and energy into your success as an intern. If you don't appreciate an opportunity, you'll be overlooked next time.If you are genuinely concerned with an aspect of your work, talk to your boss and explain the types of tasks you'd like to be working on. Remember, more responsibility comes over time as a reward for gaining your supervisor's trust.via GIPHYLimiting yourselfDon't limit yourself to the day-to-day tasks assigned by your supervisor. Try to anticipate the work before it's assigned and show initiative by identifying a need in your office.While your departmental responsibilities come first, look for ways you can help others on staff. Maybe there's a meeting today and the room needs to be prepared, an event you can help plan, or you just walk past someone on staff who needs a spare pair of hands.I was once cleaning up after a training when two interns who had an engagement that evening stopped by LI to see if I needed help. I appreciated it so much; the next morning I emailed their supervisors, the intern coordinator, and the department head to make sure they were aware.via GIPHYFailure to branch outI made my closest friends on the internship because we had something in common. We wanted to go to every event, meet new people, and make the most of the short time we had in Washington, D.C. These people are now highly successful professionals in the conservative movement. On the other hand, some interns fail to use the opportunity and prefer to network with their peers.This represents a tremendous waste of potential. Working in Washington, D.C. is more than just going to the office 9 to 5; it's working in one of the most influential, fun, and exciting places in the world. If you're here, be here!By avoiding these common mistakes, you'll make a positive impression and you'll have a great internship!via GIPHY
Team Projects – How to Get the Best Results Working Together
Ben Woodward
January 22, 2018
Team Projects – How to Get the Best Results Working Together
We all have our way of working. Some work better with constant interaction and enjoy sharing responsibility. If you're anything like me, however, you prefer to be in control of a project. You'd rather work alone than share responsibility. I have my own way of doing things; there is a method to the madness, I like to say. And whenever I am required to work with others, I prefer to be in charge of the project so I can make sure it's done right.via GIPHYBut some projects are either too big for one person or affect multiple departments. Here are five tips to ensure group project success.1. Immediately establish who is responsible for what.Morton Blackwell's sixth law of the public policy process “Give ‘em a title, and get ‘em involved,” is never more accurate than when you're working in a large team. Make sure everyone is in charge of something, ideally the area of the project that most excites them and utilizes their talents. Who is best at marketing, digital, event planning, etc.?2. Schedule regular meetings with an agenda.At the beginning of any project, establish a consistent time to meet. This may be once or twice a week. Meetings give colleagues the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and ensure a degree of accountability. An agenda can include action items, which you will follow up at the next meeting. If someone cannot be present at the meeting, make sure they're caught up at a later date. via GIPHY3. Create an online team chat.Some great online platforms are available to enable you to share ideas, documents, schedule meetings, and discussion. By discussing your project within a group chat, you can share thoughts and keep the group project in the minds of all the team members. Online chats also mean you don't have to wait until the next meeting if there's something you'd like to discuss. 4. Don't be afraid to lean on others or request more responsibility.The best thing about working in a group is mutual accountability for the success of your overall project. Check in with your team members on a regular basis and make sure they're being challenged. Likewise, if a colleague is overwhelmed because of other responsibilities, don't be afraid to step in. If you're in need of assistance, ask others in your team for help. via GIPHY5. Share the credit.It is critical for team morale that all members of the project receive credit for its success. If one person's contribution isn't recognized, it is essential to recognize them. Likewise, if something goes wrong, it could be a collective failure and is something the team should address as a whole. Maintaining team morale is essential to a successful group project, as individuals will greatly impact each other's enthusiasm. Finally! Group projects can be a lot of fun and a great way to build your relationships with colleagues. Just follow the steps above, and you'll enjoy a successful outcome.via GIPHY
Leadership Institute Program Catalog
Leadership Institute
January 16, 2018
Leadership Institute Program Catalog
The Leadership Institute increases the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. To accomplish this, LI identifies, recruits, trains, and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media.LI's Program Catalog, available for you to view here, gives you a 41 page overview of Leadership Institute programs, including:- Campus leadership,- Campus journalism,- Career services,- 47 types of training schools,- International training, and- Online training and resources.
Break the 4/5 rule in 2018!
Ben Woodward
January 8, 2018
Break the 4/5 rule in 2018!
In 2018, I'm going to break a rule. According to Business Insider, 80% of New Year's Resolutions will be broken by February. That's 4/5 of us who make a commitment to ourselves and don't follow through! It's not surprising when you think about it because most resolutions are wildly ambitious. We've all promised ourselves we're going to lose a lot of weight, quit our addictions, or become a millionaire. By the way, if you've achieved any of these things, good for you. Tell me your secret! via GIPHYMore importantly, most resolutions only develop with ourselves in mind. As such, because our resolutions are self-involved, we don't have anybody else invested in our success. Imagine how much more likely you would be to follow through if there was accountability from those around you.To break the 4/5 rule in 2018, I resolve to create something new at work.This New Year, your challenge is to sit down and identify how things could be better. How could you and your organization better accomplish your mission and better advance conservatism?via GIPHYThe best thing about working in the conservative movement is the tremendous potential to be an innovator and improve the way things are done. Here are three reasons you should resolve to create something new at work:Too often, professionals wait around for the formal authority to make a change. This, and fear of failure, prevent good ideas finding their way up the chain of command. Staff at non-profits like the Leadership Institute, however, are always encouraged to identify a need in the movement and fill it. Often this means going outside your formal job description and stretching yourself to take on new responsibilities. As you begin to challenge yourself, you will develop new skills.By doing this, you not only become an indispensable part of the team, but you also show your bosses you are serious about improving your organization and have the leadership skills necessary to drive innovation rather than just following orders.via GIPHYBut how do you create something new?Think about obstacles that make your job harder, or perhaps something you admire about another organization's way of doing things. Don't try to invent the wheel; just contribute tangible improvement.When you identify a way to contribute something new, and your boss is happy to proceed, prepare a full project proposal. It is essential you do your research and explain why the new idea is necessary, how you will define success, your strategy for implementation, and how you will overcome possible challenges.If your proposal is approved, identify staff who can support your new project and are willing to lend their time to ensure success. Set realistic goals for your project and keep your motivation. Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint!By making it your resolution to create something new at work, you will not only advance your career, but you will break the 4/5 rule. When you set yourself a goal that's well planned, your colleagues are invested in, and that helps others, you're far more likely to succeed.Be a rule breaker in 2018!
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