Message to New College Grads: How to Succeed at DCI Group

First and foremost, congratulations on your graduation and successfully completing your degree! 

Now is the time to put what you learned in class, at internships and at other part-time jobs into practical use as you enter the professional workforce. You may have questions about how to navigate the public affairs job market from the application process to finding the right position at the right firm. And once you accept a job offer, how do you guarantee success in your new role and achieve personal and professional growth?

At DCI Group, we have spent the last 25-plus years recruiting, developing, and training scores of new graduates into successful public affairs professionals. Some have gone on to work in policy at Fortune 500 companies and associations and some have risen at DCI to be Partners at the firm. And the number one question I’ve been asked over and over again by every job candidate is:

What Do I Need To Do To Succeed At DCI Group?

First, you need to be a good writer. Business writing is not the same as academic writing. You need to be good at researching, drafting, and producing content for a variety of mediums. We are storytellers and our narratives are rooted in fact-based data. Our clients’ issues are complicated and people who can produce advocacy materials in a clear and concise fashion are highly sought. We also need writers who can transition from telling stories to producing strategic plans that clearly layout the need for a specific strategy and course of action. And don’t be shy with sharing drafts with colleagues. Learning to take (and give) constructive feedback will make you a better writer.

Second, you need to be intellectually curious. It is a soft skill that is woven into the fabric of our company culture. The desire to dive into an issue and learn as much as you can about it and then use that knowledge to create content, or brainstorm ideas with colleagues, or offer suggestions on how to tackle difficult problems will resonate with your peers and DCI leadership. Being able to balance competing demands, but also wanting to continue learning will allow you to grow at the firm and be trusted with more responsibility.

Third, is being a standout among your peers and to build an individual brand that demonstrates a strong work ethic and desire for excellence. By brand, I mean that we all are in the business of individually marketing ourselves to show that we can learn, grow, and lead. Part of this is advocating for yourself, but as a firm that is centered around being “go-getters” and entrepreneurs, new hires must demonstrate the ability to execute on the work. This means that people at DCI succeed when others come to recognize their desire to not do the most work, but the best work.

Fourth, is to learn and adapt into your new work environment, including understanding people’s personalities. All your coworkers, team members, and supervisors fit together into a type of “solar system” that crosses generations, perspectives, work styles, and approaches to business. It is crucial for new hires to figure out how they fit into this “solar system” and learn to seamlessly assimilate on each team.

Finally, I tell my own two kids everyday: you need to like where you work and like getting up every day and doing the work. Going back to that idea of the solar system of personalities; ultimately you need to find the right place that works for you, where you fit into the existing orbit as easily as possible.

I had 5 jobs in my first year out of college, one of which was as a reporter at a newspaper. My journalism professor and academic mentor in college hired me for this first job, which I thought was my dream job. Yet I hated that job! It wasn’t because I didn’t do a good job or didn’t have the skills. I just didn’t like the work. The best new hires at DCI will also fit into our company culture to inspire that drive for excellence and ultimately success.

Washington, DC

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