The Expert Files: 11 Tips to Keep on Track in College from Alum Kelly Tenn

I’m excited today to feature a guest post from 2010 USF Communication Studies graduate Kelly Tenn in “The Expert Files.” Kelly currently works as an associate account executive at Blanc & Otus, a San Francisco-based technology public relations/consulting firm. Check out Kelly’s expert advice on what you should do while in college to stay on track and prepare for life after college!

Outstanding alum Kelly Tenn, '10

From School to the Working World:

11 Tips to Keep on Track from USF Alumna, Kelly Tenn, Class of 2010

“At the launch of the school year, you have a unique opportunity to start with a fresh slate. You likely have some resolutions and goals in mind, but may be overwhelmed as where to start. As a USF alumna having entered the professional world last year, I found a handful of skills and habits that not only helped me through school, but really geared me up for the real, career-oriented, working world. Check out my 11 tips to keep in mind as you embark on the fall ’11 school year:

  1. Listen attentively. Be engaged while in class and take notes. Minimizing your distractions, such as shutting off mobile devices, will help you to retain information and allow you to ask informed questions. After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than being called out by your boss during a meeting while you were weren’t paying attention.
  2. Read. Whether for school, leisure, or information/news, reading will help you grow your knowledge base and will influence your writing. Remember, keeping up on the news sparks a great opportunity to start a conversation. You’ll always have something interesting to talk about, which will work in your favor during a job interview.
  3. Manage your time.  Maintaining a calendar of your deadlines is a vital asset to have in the professional world. Missing a deadline in school may only affect you and your grade, but in the working world, dropping the ball could hugely impact your coworkers, bosses and clients.
  4. Use your resources. Work on your writing by attending professors’ office hours, scheduling a tutorial at the Learning and Writing Center, or even asking a trusted peer to review your paper for feedback. In the office, find a peer who recently served in your position to review your work or bounce ideas off of.
  5. Attend events that pique your interest. Be bold and try something new. Go to a CAB event, a club meeting, a baseball game, or an exercise class at the Koret Center – it sounds cliché but really, you might make a new friend. When you start your job, go with your coworkers to happy hour or on a lunch run. For me, attending small outings really helped me to connect with my coworkers on a more personal level.
  6. Introduce yourself.  The more you rely on others to introduce you, the less confident you’ll be at introducing yourself in the future. Empower yourself to start a conversation. I got my foot in the door for a job by introducing myself to a recruiter that visited USF and gave a presentation to my class.
  7. Pose questions. Don’t be afraid to ask informed questions and inquire with an authority. Posing questions will help address any issues at hand, both in academia and at work. At work, you have the ideal opportunity to express your voice during brainstorms, and your thoughts could really impress your team!
  8. Connect locally. Join a team, volunteer, get a job, intern – do whatever fits your interests to engage with San Francisco. Any experience could inspire your career path. It was my fourth internship that allowed me to discover how I fit into public relations.
  9. Stay savvy on online media, but don’t let it run your life. Nothing’s wrong with spending time on Facebook, Twitter, gaming sites, celebrity gossip blogs, etc. but beware; these things can inspire major procrastination and really suck your time away. How might you combat the temptation at work? Only check your Facebook at lunch. You don’t want your CEO walking by, catching a glimpse of your Facebook account up on your monitor while you should be working.
  10. Think before you post. I’ve heard this from many mentors and colleagues. Before sending an email, message, online wall post, picture, or status update on social media channels – realize your online identity is always under scrutiny. What’s posted isn’t easily forgotten as a digital trail can be blasted to many people at once, and be logged forever. Many organizations perform online identity checks through the hiring process, so take a moment to think about the implications before you post online.
  11. Take care of yourself. Create a schedule that will help you maintain your sanity. What do I do? Take Friday nights off to do something fun and go to a regular class at the gym on Saturdays.”
Kelly knows what she is talking about… she graduated with honors and was recognized as one of our two Outstanding Students in Communication Studies! Thanks, Kelly, for sharing your expert advice! We are so proud of you!



  1. Hi Kelly – Great advice! I hope all our students take your advice!!! You really were an “expert” while at USF 🙂

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