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Why Carla Harris is my "virtual business mentor" & the BEST interview advice

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

I was first introduced to Carla Harris back in 2012 as a participant in the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Career Prep program. SEO Career Prep proved to be a lifeline for me considering my small-town college background as I transitioned into a career on Wall Street. As a part of my month-long SEO pre-work session in New York City before starting my investment banking internships, my cohort had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of top brass on the Street.

My personal favorite personality we met over that summer? Carla Harris.



Mrs. Harris (yes, my Southern roots of adding titles won’t die!) is a 30-year veteran of Morgan Stanley, a Harvard MBA and Undergrad and my favorite fact, a Black woman from Florida. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing her speak live, her slight Southern twang is one that isn’t easily filed away or ignored. As a fresh 20-year old from the eastside of Atlanta, listening to her story of how she made all of her coworkers love her during her first foray on Wall Street was just the encouragement I needed to hear. Since then I’ve followed her work closely, including her 2014 book, “Strategize to Win”.

The book, which details various techniques to make the most of your career, from the ideation phase through deciding to leave your job, has so many gems sprinkled throughout. There is one set of gems, from early in the book that I think will help my clients the most during their interview process.

In describing the best way to approach how to answer questions throughout the interview process – she notes that you have to be able to describe your “You Will Do.” There are three components to convincing someone you would be the right person for a role: Your Can Do, Your Will Do, and Your Fit.

Your Fit component will be based on your interviewer’s perception of you and how well they can envision you would ‘mesh’ into the organization. The best way to ensure that you will work within a company is to be your authentic self.

Your Can Do factor is already demonstrated by your resume. I’ve stressed to my clients the importance of shaping, crafting, and curating an impressive resume that can be customized for your various needs and jobs you will be applying for. (Hint, hint: I can help you write your best resume.)

Now for the big kahuna, you’d be addressing during your interview – Your Will Do.

In Mrs. Harris’ book she notes that during your interview there are a few key themes that you should ensure your interviewer knows about you:

1. I always deliver the work product.

2. I am resourceful – if I don’t have an answer, understand the project, need support – I understand how to tap into my network and resources to develop the correct solution.

3. I treat all of my projects with importance – both big and small. They all matter.

4. I know how to prioritize.

5. I never disappoint. I give all of my work my all.

This advice stands the test of time. I believe she is completely spot on and wish I would have had access to this as I’ve navigated my career. I hope you can apply these tips as you continue on your career journey.

A photo with a few of my Wharton classmates and I alongside the Carla Harris!


Warmly,

Timka

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