Date: 23 October, 2017

Subject: ISM Business Symposium

MLA Citation: N/A


Research Assessment #5

My second experience at the annual ISM Business Symposium was just as educational and helpful, if not more so, as it was my first time around. Now that I already have a year of experience in the professional world under my belt from ISM last year, this year’s symposium was more so for extra practice and fine-tuning my interpersonal communication skills with professionals than it was about developing new ones.

The additional interview experience with professionals outside of my field of study helped me get more acclimated to carrying on a comfortable conversation with a complete stranger. The hardest part for me about interviewing has always been the in-between conversation, the small-talk that occurs when actual questions to do with the task at hand are not being asked. The symposium pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to fill that empty space. I learned that finding something in common with your interviewer-- such as where they went to school or grew up, a hobby or passion you both enjoy, or a vacation spot you have both visited, for example-- can unite you with your interviewer, relieving any existing tension and making you more memorable.

Furthermore, I have always felt awkward when networking, both with professionals older than me and with students my age. Something about approaching a stranger and starting a conversation out of thin air has always intimidated me, but this year’s symposium forced me to face this fear. I was able to learn from my many conversations that the individual you are approaching is not expecting some profound life-changing interaction, and that they are often as nervous as you are. Networking is essentially small talk, a chance to make a first impression and introduce yourself and make your face known. I know firsthand that your network can, in some situations, be more important than your skill, so building these networking skills will be of great benefit in my professional future.

I also had the privilege of listening to how ISM has helped alumni of the program get a leg up in the professional world, and I learned of some things I could be doing to take full advantage of this amazing program I get to be a part of. Many alumni spoke about how their portfolios from ISM had greatly impressed future employers and even aided them in securing job positions; keeping up with my portfolio and ensuring that I put my best effort into producing quality work for it will definitely help me after college. This knowledge meant a lot coming from young professionals, as I knew it was legitimate information coming from Frisco ISD graduates just like me, and that their advice would be applicable directly to me and my post-high school endeavors.

The business symposium helped me learn the skills that cannot be acquired via osmosis off of a piece of paper. These people skills and inside knowledge can only be learned by actually talking to people, by putting yourself out there to be critiqued and grow.