Marketing Yourself

In discussion recently I was talking to somebody about marketing yourself, particularly early in your career.  One problem is that has early in your career you lack experience.  I think one can compensate with enthusiasm. 

If I was selecting a person for a project and I had two choices; one person has all the experience needed and probably has done the same thing several times or another person with limited experience but lots of eagerness and enthusiasm.  I would choose the enthusiastic person because I would know I would not have a motivational issue. 

Early in my career I was working on a project to put computer driven displays in the control room of a nuclear power station for the first time.  I loved the project and got the system running and all I had left to do was the documentation.  I had assistance from the person who was going to maintain the programs on site.  I decided to see what else was available and discovered that the programs for the fuelling machine were way behind schedule and everybody was scared of the project.  I showed significant interest in the project and was quickly assigned to the project.  The fellow doing the documentation was also motivated to learn the system so everybody won.  I took on an exciting and challenging project creating a command language for this robot, the on-power fuelling machine.  I took such an interest in the overall project that when the machine went to site they asked me to commission the complete machine, not just the control programs.  My interest and enthusiasm made up for my lack of experience.  When I started on that display system, I think I had written one assembly language program before.   

Another fun example of selling myself is a project that came up to do a productivity study for the Manitoba government, called Operation Productivity.  My grandfather lived in Winnipeg and thought it would be fun to work on the project and visit with him.  I had never been to Winnipeg before.  I heard about the proposal and showed interest in working on the project.  I was placed on the proposal and we got the job.  My first assignment was to look at records management in the government looking for potential saving.  I spent three months with a internal consultant looking records storage in all government departments.  I created a report that identified a million dollars in savings of office space by creating an archive in a warehouse.  The neat thing about the report was it had pictures of records storage with humorous captions.  Only humorous report I have written in my career.  Not bad for a electrical engineer with limited experience.   I also had a great time with my grandfather.  However 40 below with a high wind is cold in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade.

The lesson from these examples is that enthusiasm and interest really help in marketing yourself early in your career.  Do not talk about what you do not want to do, talk about what you want to do.  I bet nobody knew that I did not want to do that documentation.

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