Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Behaving Badly Can be Bad for Your Employment Prospects

Last Friday's Chicago Tribune ran this article, and the Chicago Sun-Times ran this article about drunken Kellogg students who vomited on the floors of the Field Museum and threw things at Sue the Dinosaur. While we know University of Chicago students (undergrad or grad) would never behave this way, the "debaucle" raised some important points about mixing business with pleasure, and why you shouldn't take it too far.

Anytime there is alcohol involved as part of a recruiting event there is the risk that one drink will put you over the edge and you'll be remembered forever as "that" guy or girl who was seriously over-served in front of the CEO of the company. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind, when you're tempted by all of that free booze that a company is sending your way - whether it's at a recruiting dinner or the company holiday party:

*All things in moderation. We're not saying that you can't have any drinks when mingling with current or potential employers - but we are asking you to know your limits. That means no Jager-bombs when you're trying to impress upon a recruiter that you could be a very responsible employee. I know, it's tricky - you don't want to be the boring guy who didn't cut loose last night at happy hour. You also don't want to be the guy throwing up the next morning in the company restroom. So know what you can handle, and stick to that - even if you're feeling pressured to go a little crazy.

*Don't get too comfortable. Alcohol distorts your judgement and lowers your inhibitions, while producing euphoria (a sense of pleasure)- which means you might suddenly feel like you are BFF with that guys who already works at the organization you really want to work at too. No matter how chummy you're feeling, don't take this opportunity to tell him about the other companies that you've interviewed at, and how they were all super lame. Why? 1) He might know people working at those other companies. 2) Just because you were bonding over beers doesn't mean you're going to get that job your applying for. So keep your cards close to your chest, at least until you have an offer on the table.

*Don't use a hangover as an excuse to show up late. Let's say you are interning at a company where you really like the work and the people. Thursday night you all head out to happy hour and things get a little crazy. Friday morning you're hungover and running late for that 9am meeting - and you think to yourself "It's cool - they know I was drinking a lot last night, they won't care." Wrong - no supervisor, so matter how laid back he or she is, is going to appreciate an employee who can't be on time or get his or her work done. If you want to impress your co-workers or your boss, your first priority should be showing up on time and being ready to work - regardless of how late you were out the night before.

Bottom line: Sometimes, alcohol is part of business - deals are brokered over cocktails and dinner meetings, and networking often happens at cocktail receptions - and that's ok. The problem is when you don't know your limits and can't keep it under control - because then you'll find yourself spitting on a T-Rex named Sue - and no one wants to hire the guy or girl who did that.

For more information about how to handle a networking opportunity or meeting where there might be drinks involved, call CAPS at (773) 702 - 7040 and schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.

For more information about resources regarding alcohol and other drugs, visit SCRS at the University of Chicago.

Questions or comments about this post (or others)? Post them here.

1 comment:

brett said...

This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.
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