First Days on the Job

Test Drive an E-book

Medical Miracles

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

February 14,

2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Meetings Multiply

New Jersey is becoming a "little hotel mecca,"

says Joanne Dennison, owner of the Bridgewater-based meeting

and event planning company On a Shoestring. Still, says Dennison,

despite the proliferation of new hotels, don’t even think of planning

a midweek meeting anywhere in the Garden State on short notice.


is a real shortage of meeting spaces," she says.

Dennison speaks on a panel giving insights into the future of the

meeting and events industry to Meeting Professionals International

on Wednesday, February 21, at 11:30 a.m. at the Radisson Meadowlands.

Cost: $50. Call 732-536-5135.

"No one grows up wanting to become a meeting planner," says

Dennison. "No one know about the industry. Our parents don’t even

know what we do." Along with a shortage of meeting space, she

says, there is an acute shortage of personnel in the industry.

Dennison took a typically circuitous route to becoming an event


She holds a bachelor’s degree (Class of 1982) in American studies

and women’s studies and a master’s degree in higher education


from the State University of New York at Brockport. She worked in

college administration until 1991. Her last job, associate dean of

students at Upsala, involved planning student events, including


and graduation.

After leaving Upsala, and before starting her own business in 1993,

Dennison "wandered around trying to figure out what to do."

During that period, Dennison says, her husband dreaded questions about

what she did for a living. "I was doing about eight things at

once," she laughs. "I’m the queen of multi-tasking."

Having mastered the juggling act that is event planning, Dennison

has become active in Meeting Professionals International, an


trade group. Through her own experience and through attending industry

events, she is well positioned to discuss future trends in event


Among those trends:

More meetings. "Five, six years ago, they said video

conferencing would be the end of meetings," Dennison says. Not

so. "It’s almost humorous to think that," she says. "In

no way has technology replaced massive numbers of meetings."


popular now, she says, are sales and training meetings. Association

meetings also are on the rise.

Golf, not rope ladders. While team building meetings


obstacle courses are still with us, Dennison says it’s a different

type of course that corporate groups crave. "More want a nice

resort with a golf course," she says.

Meeting rooms with strings. Hotels, in the catbird seat

as demand for meeting space intensifies, often don’t want to sell

conference rooms unless the client will also take bedrooms as part

of the deal. This is particularly true on the most popular nights

— Monday through Wednesday, and Tuesday through Thursday. Catering

halls are jumping in to fill some of the demand, Dennison says,


with an eye toward expanding beyond weddings and adding the technology

and lighting that will appeal to business groups.

Technology. While video conferencing did little to put

a crimp in live events, Dennison says technology is indeed having

an impact on the event industry. "Registration, searching for

sites, people planning meetings for thousands of people from Palm

Pilots," Dennison says, ticking off the ways technology is


her often frantically-paced profession. Among the event planning


Dennison is finding invaluable are,,


Less lead time. With hotels and resorts booked solid,

requests to put on a really swell midweek confab for oh, say, 2,000,

on a date barely a flip of a calendar page away is unnerving. But

it happens. All the time. Dennison says pharmaceutical companies are

notorious in planning circles for asking for big drug launch events

with little notice — maybe six weeks, or even four. It’s not easy,

but Dennison says event planners grow good at fielding these requests.

In listing what goes into being the kind of event planner who

can keep her head when all about her are losing theirs, Dennison lists

an important hint. "The person in the supposedly lowest position

(the janitor, housekeeping, the lady in the cafeteria) will be the

one who magically comes up with the red magic marker you need when

no one else can or will. Be nice to them before you need


Top Of Page
First Days on the Job

It’s like the first week of school, but trickier. Being

the new kid in the cubicle — or even in the executive suite —

can be a mine field. Should you wear khaki or serge? Call the


"Frankie," or "Mr. Big"? Shoot out your ideas for

reorganizing the place, or lay low?

How to make the transition? How to get off to a good start in a new

office? Jack Guarneri, senior career counselor at Mercer County

Community College, offers advice when he gives a free career workshop,

"Succeeding at Your New Job," on Thursday, February 22, at

5:30 p.m. at MCCC’s Student Center. Call 609-486-4800, ext. 3397.

"The most common mistake is not fitting in with the culture,"

says Guarneri, who has been a career counselor at MCCC for nearly

20 years. A graduate of Stony Brook, where he earned a bachelor’s

degree in Spanish literature, Guarneri holds a master’s in counseling

from Long Island University. "You want people to like you,"

he says of an early imperative for new employees. "You’ll need

all the allies you can get."

This is equally true for supervisors and for the troops they guide.

Fitting in encompasses everything from putting together a work


with just the right degree of formality to identifying — and


away from — the negative political animals who lie in wait at

the water cooler.

Guarneri’s advice for fitting in at a new job includes the following:

Start before you begin. Look for clues to your new


culture before you even step into your first interview, Guarneri


"Look at the website, the annual report," he says. There you

are likely to find photos that will indicate whether Hawaiian prints

or pinstripes are the corporate uniform. Big clients, board members,

corporate officers, and even favorite charities, will show up too.

Study these materials and you will be better prepared to make small

talk if you find yourself standing next to the CEO as you ride the

elevator on your first day. You may also save yourself from making

a joke about a client whose fees help fund your paychecks.

Know where you fit in. "I once had an intern,"

Guarneri recounts. "He was very eager. He wanted to reorganize

everything the first week." The young man was not "conscious

of his place in the scheme of things," Guarneri says. "He

was there to learn, not to be the teacher." Had the intern been

a paid employee, he would not have made it through the week at most

jobs, is Guarneri’s guess. That is not to say that new employees


remain mute. "There is a difference between being pushy, and


to an invitation to give input," Guarneri says. "Once you

understand the lay of the land and have some credibility, people will

be more willing to listen," he says. "People resent


too early on."

Don’t stay in your office. "Keeping your nose too

close to the grindstone is not a good idea," Guarneri says. Get

out and about, meet colleagues and supervisors, volunteer for


offer to help out on projects, look into working for the company’s

favorite charity, perhaps even contribute to the newsletter. Building

up a network makes it likely, Guarneri says, that you will be aware

of shifts in company priorities and will have a group of friends ready

to help out if problems arise.

Beware of cover-ups. New employees, unsure of procedures,

have a tendency to cover up and try to keep going. This is a mistake,

says Guarneri. Better to ask for help right away than to try to hide

an area of ignorance. "Say `I’m not sure how to handle it,’"

Guarneri advises. Approach a supervisor with two or three solutions,

and ask advice. "Then it becomes a situation where you have


he says.

Build an accomplishments file. Right from day one, start

to compile thank you letters from grateful clients, positive notices

from supervisors, press clippings, and a synopsis of the projects

on which you are working. Then, Guarneri says, when the time for your

first review rolls around, present the file to your supervisor ahead

of the meeting. Not only should the file increase your chances for

a glowing review, but it becomes a tangible record of your value to

the organization, a good thing to have when, for instance, lay off

decisions are being made.

Cut and run?. Sometimes, Guarneri says, new employees

find they are expected to perform illegal or unethical acts. When

that is the case, his advice is to get on out of there — fast.

"But if the problem is boredom," he says, "try to stick

it out for a year." The stigma that was attached to job switching

before the downsizing of the 1980s has lost much of its bite, but

still, Guarneri says, employers like to hire those they believe will

be dependable. A trail of jobs held for mere months can be a negative.

Overall, Guarneri says, the best thing a new employee can do

is to fit into the existing organizational culture. And the worst?

"Make your boss look bad."

Top Of Page
Test Drive an E-book

The Princeton Public Library now has 942 titles


online. These E-books, available to patrons at,

can be "checked out" for 24-hour periods. Acknowledging that

that span of time is not long enough to do justice to War and Peace,

the library says the service is intended as a reference tool. The

E-books are searchable by keyword, which makes it easy to find


information fast. Initial titles fall under the categories of


business, computers, travel, careers, and examinations.

The Princeton Public Library is one of seven libraries in the region

participating in a netLibrary trial sponsored by the Central New


Library Cooperative. The cooperative has established a users group

to set policies and share experiences and tips.

Top Of Page
Medical Miracles

Attention biotech investors, the Journal of the American

Medical Association is predicting major breakthroughs in the next

25 years against some of the most stubborn disease states. Progress,

in many cases, will come as a result of work now being done in biotech

labs. Here are some of the advances the American Medical Association

predicts we are most likely to see:

Alzheimer disease and osteoporosis are strong candidates for

disease prevention.

Many chronic diseases, including Parkinson disease and


will be brought under control.

Improved treatment of inherited diseases such as sickle cell

anemia can be ensured.

Many cancers may well be put into the category of curable


The clinical problem of chronic inflammation in the lungs that

defines cystic fibrosis may be solved.

Individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease will be


and targeted for specific preventive intervention, improving the


of their lives.

Both neurology and psychiatry will proceed at an unprecedented

pace, resulting by 2020 in more personalized therapies for brain


disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia.

Techniques for the replacement of defective genes will provide

a way to treat spinal cord injury and stroke in ways that would be

absolutely curative.

By 2025, engineered tissues — to replace blood vessels,

restore vision, repair bladder and grow liver tissues — may


eliminate the long waiting lists for specific organ transplantation.

Non-invasive surgery may be the norm in 2025 through advances

in bioengineering and imaging technologies.

A new age of antibiotic discovery will revolutionize our ability

to deal with resistant infections.

Drug development and success against challenging medical


such as obesity will be accelerated as intensive research locates

drug "platforms," areas where specific pathways for complex

diseases and multiple targets for drug therapies will be found.

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