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Best gift for the college graduate: Advice and the P4s

BY PEGGY NOE STEVENS Published: May 10, 2012
As my son nears his high school graduation, I am reminded of the feelings of excitement and anticipation I had as a teenager for the next chapter of college life.

I am confident with my “big fat Italian family” he will be gifted with many great expressions of congratulations -- an investment of sorts, all with the hopes of wanting him to succeed for the future.

My most treasured gift when I graduated from college was a grey leather portfolio with a monogrammed silver plaque that my parents gave to me. It was the real deal, a professional piece (my first) for which I had planned to carry on every interview.

I was eager to break out into the world with my degree in tow and land that incredible paying job with a big title.

Inside, a blank pad of clean legal paper , ready for that first brilliant idea to be written. Looking back, I wish it could have been filled with advice, a road map of sorts that would have prepared me for the relationships, conflicts, time management, work-life balance, employee reviews, interviews, travel tips, etc., that you literally learn from doing.

When we graduate, we walk out the door with education that reflects our degree. Landing your first job will more than likely also offer on the job training to fit the company’s needs.

However, it was the other side of the fence I wish I would have learned earlier on that pad of paper -- the "soft skills" needed to manage the day-to-day communication and business etiquette that is essential for professional presence and moving forward successfully.

Professional presence is difficult to describe, but you sure know when you see it and interact with someone who has possessed those skills and someone who does not. Where do you begin? If you were to assess yourself now, where are you?

At Peggy Noe Stevens and Associates, we believe a great place to start is to eat the elephant one bite at a time and assess four areas -- the P4s of personal branding: Personal, Professional, Protocol and People.

Each category is a platform from which you evaluate and gauge your level of knowledge to build your professional brand/image. The first two are critical for the new entrants and I give examples of each.


Overall image of dress -- What is the snap shot impression that you make with your overall appearance and dress? DO you look the part for the interview.

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