Written by Melissa Anzman

It’s officially holiday party season – woot woot! I know we’re knee-deep in reflection and being thankful, but party time is right around the corner.

Holiday parties used to be a big deal. And the bigger the company’s revenue, the bigger the event was. After the crash in 2008, many companies have scaled back their party budget and perks, but still have some sort of year-end celebration. While the ostentatious-ness of the occasion may have been subdued, there is still a right way to party.

I’m not going to point out all of the things you shouldn’t be doing while celebrating, you can read all about how to shake your tail feather and what gift to get your boss here. Instead, I’m going to share three ways to make the most of your holiday party, and how partying can propel your career to the next level.

3 Ways to Leverage Your Holiday Party

Many of us attend several holiday parties – this advice can be applied whether you are going to your office party or a friend’s party. Essentially, these parties are a great informal way to network and learn important things about your performance and career trajectory.

1. Meet People You Want to Know

It’s so easy to stick to the people we know when we arrive at a party – we want to drink, be merry, have fun! But by doing so, you are foregoing the easiest “networking event” out there.

At parties, people are more relaxed, their game faces aren’t as in tact (especially after a drink) – which means it’s prime time for you to easily step outside of your comfort zone and meet influencers that can help you.

Before you attend the party, think about who could influence your career: they can be leaders, higher ups, or connectors. All of the people at work who have a seat at the table when discussing your career – then add them to your list to meet.

When you are at the party, you have so many warm introductions available to you – unlike most networking events. You can ask someone you work with to introduce you; you can mosey on up to the person and make small chat about the company/party/achievements/speeches; you can complement them on a project they completed.

In other words, you have built in reasons to meet the people you want to know. Take advantage of it.

2. Investigate the Gossip

I’m not a huge fan of gossiping at work in general, but when you are at a party, it’s a great opportunity for you to hear about all of the goings on. You don’t have to participate in the gossip, but it is an excellent way for you to understand what people are saying – about you, your team, and so on.

Whether you overhear something or someone makes a seemingly innocuous comment, you can learn a lot by being a listener more than a talker. And since this is likely one of the last opportunities you will get to improve your performance and create a halo effect before year-end, it can be career-boosting information.

3. Getting Your Cheer Back

I remember walking in to a HUGE holiday party I attended several years back – lights, glamour, food galore, and fancy people everywhere. I was beyond done with my job at the time – and I wasn’t able to find one positive thing to help me get through another year in my role.

But a crazy thing happened at the company party – I was smiling, happy, and started to get my cheer back. I think part of it was the holiday rubbing off on me, but it was also reaffirming to see my buttoned up colleagues relaxed, dancing, enjoying their time outside of work (hello, they are apparently human too), that made me see things through a different lens.

You can’t bring your negativity and disappoint in all things company/career, to your holiday party. Make a conscious effort to actually enjoy your time and learn more about the people you work with every day. Drink the cool-aid a bit.

Instead of looking for the doom and gloom, let the holiday party remind you of the upside… even if it feels like you have to stretch a bit to see it (gone are the days of super fancy people everywhere). Celebrate the year you had – the ups and downs, and the things you delivered.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:
How have you turned your holiday party in a career booster?

Introducing SkilledUp

This month we’re honored to partner with SkilledUp, an online course discovery platform built to help you gain new skills.  SkilledUp’s ultimate vision is to transform education as we know it—how it’s delivered, how much it costs, and how quickly it helps you get to a career you love.

Exclusive Deal

SkilledUp is offering Life After College readers a free download of their “How To Be Employable After College” guide—packed with tips to enhance employability, job hunting resources and more.

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job, and the host of the Launch Yourself Podcast. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

By Davis Nguyen

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” —Bill Gates

I thought the beginning of my senior year was going to be the time of my life. I thought that I’d quickly be able to find a job I love and spend the rest of senior year enjoying it with friends.

Instead of weekends sipping wine or exploring the outdoors, I spent my weekends sending out resumes and exploring the indoors of interview rooms.

I didn’t get an offer from my first, second, or even my sixteenth interview. Almost every day came with a call or letter of rejection.

After two months of interviews and a miracle, I received my first job offer from Bain & Company, the company I wanted to work for most.

Now that my senior year is ending and I have a job, I’ve had time to reflect on my job search experience and come to appreciate what rejection taught me.

9 Lessons Only Rejection Can Teach You

1. You’re not the sh*t

Being rejected teaches us humility. I still remember leaving my first interview thinking that I was going to receive the job automatically. I would have bet my first year’s salary on it. It was a rude awakening when I did not receive the congratulations call I was waiting for. The lesson I was forced to learn was there were plenty of more qualified candidates who are willing to work hard to get the same job I wanted.

2. Not all outcomes are in your control

Sometimes my rejection came from factors that I couldn’t easily control or change about myself. With one company, my interviewer’s feedback was that I had the skill set to do great work with them, but felt I wouldn’t fit into the culture. I realize now he was right and that I probably wouldn’t have been as happy working there.

3. It can’t kill you

Rejection is never fun. It got to the point that each time I received an email or call from a company I would just cringe. But I lived to send another resume and cover letter.

4. You’re in good company

As the job rejections piled on, I googled for other people who had been rejected by companies they wanted to work for. In the state I was in, I just wanted to know that someone else had been where I was and ultimately came out okay.

During my search, I read about Brian Acton who was rejected by Facebook. He later co-founded WhatsApp. Facebook bought the app this year for $19 billion. Maybe if it didn’t work out, I could develop an app? Probably not, but it proved that not having a job right out of college wasn’t going to kill me.

5. Get feedback to improve your chances of success

After each rejection email or call, I learned to ask for feedback on my performance. The feedback I received didn’t prevent me from being rejected from future interviews, but helped me to not get rejected for the same reasons.

6. Don’t reject yourself

For many of the interviews where I made the final round, I got to tour the company and meet the staff. I made friends with some of the other students interviewing. Though I didn’t get an offer, I was pretty happy to have enjoyed those weekends meeting pretty awesome people. As a friend of mine said to me, if you don’t try, you are rejecting yourself and passing up potential opportunities.

7. How to inch closer to success

With each rejection I felt more determined to work harder. I saw each rejection as a sign that the company I applied to didn’t think I was good enough. Nothing like being told you aren’t good enough to motivate you to prove yourself.

8. How to appreciate success when it comes

When my first job offer finally came I couldn’t contain my emotions and weeped as I was receiving the call from one of my interviewers. The job search process was over and I would be working with my dream company. I don’t think I would have been as happy as I was that day had I not been rejected so many times before. I learned to not take the opportunities I was given for granted.

9. Who your true supporters are

During my job search I became closer to two of my friends as we were interviewing for the same companies. We would share our rejections and talk each other out of feeling sorry for ourselves. I am so glad I had my friends to share my low moments with. When we finally all had our job offers, we had a dinner to celebrate.

Rejection isn’t all bad.

Rejection can either add fuel to our fire or burn our spirit until we have nothing left. The choice is ours.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments

What would you add as a 10th lesson?

Introducing SkilledUp

This month we’re honored to partner with SkilledUp, an online course discovery platform built to help you gain new skills.  SkilledUp’s ultimate vision is to transform education as we know it—how it’s delivered, how much it costs, and how quickly it helps you get to a career you love.

Exclusive Deal

SkilledUp is offering Life After College readers a free download of their “How To Be Employable After College” guide—packed with tips to enhance employability, job hunting resources and more.

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

Davis Nguyen (@justdavisnguyen) has been a reader of Life After College since 2011 and is currently on a year-long quest connecting with 52 role models he has never met and learning how to form deep, meaningful relationship with strangers. Want to know how to connect with anyone? He will graduate from Yale University in May 2015.


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