"Hi, this is Michelle. You've reached the right number at the wrong time. You know the drill. Leave me a message."
As you begin to call professionals in the industry, you're invariably going to be leaving them a voicemail with your number so they can call you back. I'll save the items about when to call and what to leave on their voicemail for the next post. For this one, it's about the message that they're going to hear on your phone if they call you back. Personally, I'm OK with funny or informal messages. I think they show a little creativity, and I LOVE creative people. I don't like companies that are old and stuffy. But I can tell you with certainty that most business people don't care for those informal or funny messages. They hear them and cringe, thinking they're very unprofessional. They start thinking, "If she has that unprofessional of a message when she knows I may be calling and she's trying to get a job/internship with me, how unprofessionally is she going to behave with my customers? Could I even trust her to know what a professional conversation with my customers should sound like?"
Unfortunately, there are times when you will have to conform to the accepted "business norms," especially when you're trying to break into the industry or are just starting an entry level job with a long-standing organization (e.g., professional leagues, major universities, etc.) Personally, I hate the idea of conforming to "business norms" that are a throw-back to the 1950s and were created by WASPy old white men, but I'm also a pragmatist. Don't shoot yourself in the foot before you even get a chance to begin your career and show them what you can do. Unless you start your own company or find a really cool start-up or small company that embraces irreverence, you're going to have to get rid of your college student voicemail message. Welcome to the adult world of business where fun sometimes gets swept under the carpet!