Lately, there has been a lot of talk about creating your future and seizing opportunities when they are presented.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with students in the “Life Entrepreneur Program (LEP)” this year. The program “prepares students to craft meaningful and flexible life plans in light of the ever changing, fast paced world outside of Elon”. We looked at each student’s strengths and helped them to discover their core identify. We looked at how they use these strengths and helped them realize the unique talents they have to contribute to the world. They prepared their resumes, interview skills and their all-important 1-minute pitches in order to be ready when opportunity knocks. “These skills will help students better align their core identity with their professional and personal goals.”
In the book titled “Luck is No Accident”, the author explains that we must remain open to change and accept where we are at the moment, knowing that there is a purpose. In the end all of the dots somehow seem to connect, even when you’re not sure they can. This was an evident theme that arose as guests shared their stories during a young professionals panel I hosted for a group of Transition Strategies students. One of our panelists realized mid-way through a doctoral program that it was the wrong path and completely changed direction. The individuals this person met and the experiences they had however led to the next opportunity and the next culminating in a position and a place in life they are very happy with.
So, are you charting your own course or letting someone or something else do it for you? My hope is that you set a goal to follow your passions and interests, even when the vision is fuzzy. Chances are the course will change anyway, but there is a reason you are where you are and you will get where you’re going.
Check out this fantastic TED talk to learn how you can become a Life Entrepreneur!
This past Tuesday, Danielle and I joined two colleagues in giving presentations to the parents of children enrolled in the Alamance County Head Start Program. The two of us were tasked with sharing information on job search resources and interview preparation, topics that we are more than comfortable discussing. But there was a twist.
Before arriving, we were told that we would need an interpreter since some parents only spoke Spanish. None of us knew exactly what to expect, but we prepared as best we could. We split the group into two parts: English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parents separated, and two of us presented to each group.The parents were attentive and very appreciative, so this enthusiasm was quite comforting. The interpreter did a great job giving the parents examples to further explain what we were saying and it seemed that they valued the information. But half way through my portion of the presentation, I began to feel very discouraged. I had all of this great information to share, but literally couldn’t find the words to do so. I love discussing career development with others but I was frustrated that I couldn’t do my job myself.
Growing up in Louisiana, Creole French is commonly spoken in most households and was the only foreign language that we could learn in school. Once I got to college, I enrolled in Spanish classes and was always commended by my professor for being one of her best students. Then graduation came and I forgot how much I enjoyed the cultural experience of learning a new language. After meeting with the Head Start parents, my desire to learn Spanish is greater now than ever before and I look forward to being able to help others, no holds barred.
¡Voy a aprender español!
When I received the email this morning that the university was closed due to an impending snow storm, I have to admit that I was excited to spend the day at home playing catch up. The thought of having an entire day to blog and crack open one of the many books I’ve recently purchased gave me such a boost of energy that I was wide awake at 5 a.m.! One of the first books I wanted to get to was The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. In the book, Ferriss challenges some of the most fundamental questions that we as career advisors often ask our students: “What do you want?”, “What are your goals?”, and “What makes you happy?”
He states that, “Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.” He argues that most people will never know what they want and that there is one simple question that can be asked to reflect their actual objective: “What excites you?” I found this especially amusing considering my excitement about having a free day to read and blog. I definitely plan to incorporate that question and similar ones into my next career decision-making appointment, but in the meantime:
- What wakes you up at 5 a.m. on your day off?
- What do you do when the snow has you trapped indoors?
- What makes you excited to wake up and be you for the day?
2013 has officially transitioned to 2014. We are more than halfway through the academic year and just last week Rayna and I realized we had reached the 6 month mark in our 10 month fellowship.
We’ve kept busy this month co-teaching a Transition Strategies course for a group of students getting ready to start a new chapter in their lives. The course is part of the Revson Series a new initiative designed to prepare students for life after Elon. Members of the SPDC staff have shared information with our students on topics including, personal finance, insurance, real estate, negotiation and more. The students weren’t quite sure what they had gotten themselves into at the beginning of the course but looking through their final reflections, the benefits are clear. They are changing from students to adults. The series was created to ease the transition from college to a world of independence in which they will have to make choices about where to work and live, how to spend their money and what to invest in. Thanks to the course our students are leaving feeling confident in their knowledge and abilities.
At the same time Rayna and I are beginning our own transition. The fellowship is quickly coming to an end and we’ve begun to think about our next steps. We too are confidently moving from a period of learning and development to full-fledged professionals. Reflecting back on the past few months we’ve realized how much we have learned, not just about career services or higher education but about ourselves and what we are looking for out of a career and out of life.
It has been a great semester and the Fellows have certainly been busy!
Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:
- Taken 100s of student appointments, drop-ins and mock interviews
- Given 34 presentations ranging from Social Media to Strengths Quest and Etiquette
- Introduced 9 Elon 101 Classes to the SPDC
- Co-Taught 4 Transition Strategies Courses for over 30 students
- Completed 2 trainings for Strengths Quest Certification
- Conducted over a dozen informational interviews and meetings
- Assisted with the Career & Internship Expo (with over 900 students in attendance!), the Graduate School Fair and the LSB Connect Conference
- Hosted an Open House for our Mill Point Residents
- Attended the NCCDA Conference along with other Career Services Professionals from around the state
- Represented Career Services at the Resident Assistant Resource Fair and Student Org Fair
- Collaborated with Res Life, Multicultural Affairs, Service Learning, Greek Life and Leadership
- Attended fun events around campus to get to know other staff members and students including, College Coffee, the Annual Holiday Lighting, the ElonTV Premier, an Acapella Performance, a Lecture, Soccer Games, a Yoga Hike and Pilates classes
Bring it on 2014, the Fellows are ready! Stay tuned, there’s much more to come!
Just this afternoon, Danielle and I were discussing the short transition from Thanksgiving break to finals week. We pitied Elon students for not being able to fully enjoy their holiday break knowing that the semester would end shortly after returning. How awful that they were probably with family, still thinking about schoolwork! Then we realized that this is what our generation does every day. For the most part, we never stop thinking about what needs to be done (personal or professional) because we are always “plugged in”.
As natives of the Information Age, the millennial generation is always connected: to our smart phones, tablets, laptops, and social networks. Because of the constant connection to our personal lives, many students and young professionals thrive on fluidity. There is a new, innate need to be able to freely drift between text messages to friends and emails to instructors or supervisors. This no longer represents an out of whack work-life balance; it is the new normal.
The newest wave of professionals are no longer bogged down by answering emails after 5 p.m., it’s more draining for them to be forced to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. This generational shift is no cause for panic; it is simply a change in work styles and the concept of balance. And since the use of technology has extended the average workday, it is no longer feasible to judge productivity by the number of hours spent in the office or classroom.
Sheryl Sandberg in her book, “Lean In” says that “framing the issue as ‘work-life balance’ – as if the two were diametrically opposed – practically ensures work will lose out” because, “who would ever choose work over life?” And one Forbes contributor suggests that we move from work-life balance to work life energy by “thinking about ways we can be fully energized and creative for all of our life.” This means posing one very important question to every college student and new professional before they settle into any new role:
What does work look like for you?
(More from “Forget Work Life Balance – 7 Paradigm Shifts for the New 24/7 Normal” here. )
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and as everyone on campus hurries to finish up their work and settle in to break to enjoy a little rest and relaxation with family and friends it’s important that we take time to show our gratitude. This is important at every stage in life – your ‘attitude of gratitude’ can help you more than you think, and may just help someone else along the way too.
- Be Grateful for People’s Time & Energy
Acknowledge and thank everyone who helps you, even if it is in the tiniest way.
Yes, an actual handwritten note.
Remember you have to give to receive.
Your positive vibes will help attract positive things and people into your life.
These tips can be particularly important in your professional life, for more information on how your ‘attitude of gratitude’ can help open the door to a new opportunity checkout this article “The Power of Gratitude: How Giving Thanks Can Help Your Job Search” by Lynne Sarikas, Director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University.
This holiday season try to keep a list or at least pause and think of the things you are thankful for and see what type of success, either personal or professional, comes your way just from focusing on what is right!