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How to Give and Receive Feedback

Feedback is necessary to grow, improve and reach your potential. Whether it be a second opinion on your English essay or a perspective on your company’s outreach event, being open to receiving feedback, listening to perspectives, building self-awareness and acting upon suggestions is essential for your personal development.

Here are some recommendations from the talented professionals at PwC on how to give and receive feedback to set yourself up for success:

  1. Ask for feedback. Asking someone like your employer for feedback demonstrates that you have a commitment to your growth.
  1. Watch emotions. When giving feedback to others, it’s always best to sandwich and interchange your positive and negative responses. Watch how you feel, listen carefully and make an action plan to set yourself up for success.
  1. Ask questions to clarify. Be curious, open-minded, and ask questions to clarify. Turn this year’s weaknesses into next year’s strengths. Asking questions to clarify can provide you more insight on what you can improve and further information on the person’s perspectives.
  1. Expand the conversation. Expanding the conversation can turn critiques into constructive feedback. A good way to give constructive feedback is to suggest ideas that can help opposed to stating their setbacks.
  1. Reach out to networks. Hearing different perspectives can help you establish common themes in your performance.
  1. Say thank you! Show appreciation to the person who has given you feedback.
  1. Engage. If you’re giving feedback to someone else, ask to follow up with them on their progress to show that you really care!

Selina McCallum: Why become a GEMgirl?

Selina McCallum was one of our amazing GEMgirls in 2014-15. Her mentors were Amoryn Engel and Sharlyn Carrington. We interview her about her experience in The GEM Program.

-What did you love about The GEM Program?
-My favourite part of the GEM program were the GEMinars. I liked that each one had something different to offer and had a variety of guest speakers. They were informative and very helpful. I learned skills that I still use in my everyday life.

-What did you get out of your mentorship relationship?
-The relationship with my mentors boosted my confidence and helped me become more open with people. They offered me their guidance and we built a strong relationship. My mentors were Amoryn Engel and Sharlyn Carrington. They shared their career experiences with me, which helped me decide what career path I wanted to take. They also helped me to come up with pros and cons list to determine what school to go to. I found support and a friendship that continued after the program ended.

-How did GEM impact your life?
-GEM has opened a lot of doors for me. The program gave me a chance to explore different career paths. It helped me develop confidence and be a stronger person. GEM also gave me a paid internship doing something I loved. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that GEM has presented to me.

-What are you doing now?
-I’m a second- year student at the University of Windsor. I’m doing a double major in Digital Journalism and Communication, and Media and Film. I’m also celebrating the one-year anniversary of my photography website: Shot by Selina (@shotbyselina).

-What would you say to someone who may be interested in GEM?
-You won’t have any regrets! GEM will offer you many opportunities and equip you with a wide range of skills for your future. It will also give you the chance to be around like-minded individuals, make new friends and get prepared for college and university.

How to communicate effectively and build networks

Communication plays a key role in everyday interactions. Imagine you find yourself in a situation where you meet an executive of a company you want to learn more about, a job recruiter, or someone who has a career in the field you are wishing to pursue.

In all these scenarios, building an effective connection and networking with these individuals could greatly impact your life, open a door to new opportunities, and even get you a step closer to your professional goals.

Creating a personal pitch is the first step to build an effective connection. A personal pitch is a short speech that sums up who you are, what you do, what are your strengths and skills, and why you would be a perfect candidate. Your pitch should radiate your personal brand, have a distinctive style, and be unique.

How to develop a personal pitch?

  • What is the scenario? + What is your ask? Before talking to the person right away, take a moment to think about who you are talking to, and what information you are hoping to gain.
  • Explain what you do. This helps you introduce yourself and allow others to get to know you better. This information includes: what school you go to, the extracurricular activities you are involved with and any hobbies. Don’t forget to ask your conversation partners about themselves, as that shows you are engaged in the conversation and it will give you clues as to how they might be able to help you.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your Unique Selling Proposition incorporates your skills, the things that make unique, and relates to your personal brand. Think what words your friends and teachers would use to describe you. Make sure to relate this to the scenario you’re in; for example, if you’re looking for a social media internship at a company, stating that you play the ukulele wouldn’t really relate to it unless you elaborate on how that experience will help you with the job. Remember to keep your pitches concise and straight to the point so it can help you gain more information on how to take the next step to what you want.
  • Motivation: Think about why you are reaching out to that individual and what you want to obtain. Keeping your goals in mind will help you stay on topic and help you gain what you want in the end of the conversation.

 Now that you have your personal pitch, how can you communicate it effectively? Be consistent in the way you write, look and feel, interact, and speak. You don’t want to confuse the person you are talking to, so the easiest way to be consistent is to be yourself and have fun!

Gail Gramham, a member of Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), mentioned that “remembering names are great for networking.” Remembering someone’s name shows that you have interest in the person, have respect for them, and it can also make a difference on how someone feels about you and your brand.

When you are speaking, remember to embrace simplicity. Reinforcing common themes and showing that you are passionate about things you are saying will eliminate the need for technical jargon.

Finally, be mindful of the impact you make on the person rather than what you say, as people will remember how you made them feel. Starting the conversation with a handshake, a smile and introduction, and ending it by thanking them for their time would help you build a good connection.

A girl and her mentor talking about personal branding strategy

Tips to develop a successful personal branding strategy

Everyone has goals, ambitions and unique things about their personalities that make us who we are. Sometimes people forget how important personal branding is, and this GEMinar helped us realize that. The first step to developing a successful personal branding strategy is to know yourself, your strengths, your values, and your mission.

Superpowers: Knowing your strengths, skills, and special abilities are essential to developing your personal brand. To determine what they are, just think about what your friends, teachers, and people around you would say are your greatest strengths. This is a great way to market yourself to potential employers. Interviewers always ask what skills you have that would contribute to the job, and now you have an answer!

Values: Establishing your values is important because they help you grow and develop. What are the things that you live by? Values are important because they help you prioritize what matters the most. If something goes against your values, why do it?

Personal Mission Statement: Your mission statement gives you a sense of purpose, and it defines who you are. It combines your superpowers, your values, and your goals. It may be hard to fit all this in one sentence, but it forces you to think deeper and identify what is important to you.

After doing these three steps, you can now create a plan for what you want to accomplish this year. Think about how to apply your personal brand in your everyday life, for example, if one of your values is kindness, how would you show kindness today? Be true to your personal brand to stay on your path to success!

Career Spotlight: Thrive Natural Family Health

We all know about Family Doctors, and surgeons, and many of us pursue these careers, but how many of us know about complimentary health professionals? At our Thrive Medical coffee chat, GEM girls were able to sit down with a chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise, a Naturopath Dr. Kristen Heins, and a Psychologist Dr. Chelsea Sherrington to chat about their careers, and the path they took to get there.

It is an expectation, that by the time we get into high school, we have a career path planed out. As if we are supposed to know at 14, what we want to do for the next 50 years of our lives. Many of us choose obvious jobs in fields that interest us; if you are interested in medicine, you chose Doctor, if you are interested in the Arts, you chose painter, and if you are interested in Law, you chose lawyer. The Doctors at Thrive, thought us that the career you choose in high school does not necessarily have to be career you end up pursuing.

The three women, who seem to have everything planned out, and in order at their cozy midtown office, reveal that it was not always that way. In high school, Dr. Sherrington took advice on her major from a stranger on the phone, and ended up with many classes she did not like due to this Major in politics. Eventually she figured it out, and found a way to switch her majors and her classes to suit her interest in Psychology. Doctor Kristen, was on the path to become a lawyer, until she also eventually found her passion, and became a doctor.

The point is, being high school students it’s okay to not know, or to be unsure of what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life, and it’s okay to change your mind multiple times. That’s the point of University, you get to explore the different career options available in the field you’re interested in, or maybe even fields that you have never considered before.

Thank you to Dr. Wise, Dr. Heins, and Dr. Sherrington for hosting the GEM girls and for the insightful coffee chat.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.