Leadership Conference offers advice on positive first impressions, being professional


First impressions occur once and they typically last for the rest of the time someone knows the other person, said Matthew Schaefer, assistant director of Student Life Services and Communication, to a group of students in the Gentile Gallery on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

His talk, titled “Professionalism in the Modern world: Essential Elements and Possible Pitfalls,” was the opening presentation to the Leadership Conference held Jan. 29-30 at Franciscan University.

The conference was held for various students, including candidates for the positions of resident assistants, household coordinators and members of Student Government. The weekend was also open to students on campus who just wanted to attend for the learning experience.

“Your first impression of people typically happens in the first five seconds that you meet them,” said Schaefer. “Think about that. … There’s a lot of things that go into those first five seconds. First off, the first thing they’re going to notice is your appearance. What do you look like and how are you holding yourself, how are you presenting yourself to them at that very moment.”

He also talked about perception versus reality.

He told the students that in order to gain a job the way in which they perceive themselves must be reality.

This first impression includes someone’s tone and appearance, he said.

A tip he gave to the students was to introduce their names in a specific way.

He said that when he introduces himself his voices goes up on his first name, and then he pauses before saying his last name. He said people then know someone is going to say more and can understand both parts of the name better.

Schaefer said this may help an employer better remember one’s name among the many resumes he may have set aside for a job.

“I liked how he said to introduce yourselves, and even though the way he told us to introduce ourselves may sound kind of funny it’s also really memorable and that’s what it’s supposed to do,” said Julie Durbin, a freshman multimedia major.

Appearance is also part of the first impression. He stressed the importance of dressing for success and that if one is not sure how to dress for an event then he should ask the host.

In addition to first impressions, Schaefer talked about tips on how to be professional.

“We have to be a people who live by our word. … Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no,’” he said.

He said when you make a commitment you should not treat it like a Facebook invite.

Schaefer told the students they need to be the people they want to be, and they need to do it now.

“Be the person that you want to meet, that person that you want to be, so that you’re able right now to make a decision to change your life, to organize your schedule, to do the things that you think you should be doing … instead of telling your friends, ‘Oh I really gotta start getting more prayer time in,’ now you (choose) to do it,” he said.

He said it starts with a person’s attitude and believing that one can and then believing that one can make it happen.

That attitude will directly affect behavior, and this will affect actions, which will affirm what a person in doing and in turn his attitude, Schaefer continued.

“It comes full circle and it really teaches us that we can be the person that we want to be now … we don’t have to wait for some drastic change to take place in our lives,” he said.

In regards to the talk overall Durbin said, “It was very informative, it definitely gave me some tips and tricks I hadn’t thought about before.”

Julie Durbin attended with her brother, John Durbin, a sophomore social work major who said that he attended the conference so he could learn “how to be a professional working adult.”

He said, “I think it has been a very informative and educative experience.”

Amanda Rodriguez, a senior sacred music major, said the conference was educational and helped empower one to change oneself.

Rodriguez said it helped her to reflect on the things she does in her life, the good things, and the things on which she should work.