Reflection can be a constructive tool in finding lessons learned from positive and negative professional experiences. No matter the situation, there is always some kind of take away, a snippet of wisdom to be used in future events. I received a journal from a good friend on the day the on-campus interview that led to the job offer for the position I am currently employed. Since receiving the journal, I have tried to write at least once a week. The entries originally started as sentences and paragraphs with a purpose and meaning. As time goes on and life gets busy, sometimes the entries are bullet points, usually dripping in sarcasm with a positive twist if applicable. Most of the entries are reflective upon lessons learned, realizations of growth, and weekly reminders of why I entered this field. As I prepared to write this post, I started reflecting upon what has occurred to make me into the person I am today.
I am a fighter. When I was an undergraduate student, things came fairly easy to me. I had to study to get good grades, but when I had the time to focus, I always did well. Job interviews and offers came after one interview. Responsibility in those positions grew as I showed my potential. It was the responsibility that came with two positions within in undergraduate admissions that made me realize the field of business was not for me. I was meant to go into Higher Education. This is where the fighter in me started showing her true self. I applied to two schools and got into both programs. I interviewed for graduate assistantships, but the phone never rang. So I made a decision, took out student loans, and moved to Northeast Ohio. There were stumbles along the way, but with hard work, networking, and my positive attitude, I managed to complete graduate school and walk away with four different internship experiences. Those two years were not always fun, but the takeaways made the long road worth it and made me a stronger, more assertive person.
One important takeaway from all of my work experience includes:
“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” –Anna Freud
As a part of my reflections, I have come to realize that training is not always a mandatory item. Thinking of past positions, starting as a student employee and moving into graduate and professional level positions, I have come to recognize the number of times when jumping in and learning to swim came naturally with the job. It does not matter if you agree with me, but I have found that having to feel for yourself what a position involves has made me a stronger person and professional. Different jobs have required different types of personal training, ranging from researching a new campus in order to give a successful campus tour to learning what expectations are and going above and beyond to show my dedication to the institution and my position. I have taken time to get to know my coworkers in my department and around the institution. The information I have learned from these individuals at my time at each institution has impacted my training in a positive way. By taking the time to reach out to other professionals, I have gained valuable information about the institution and taken the time to network and meet others. I have always been the type of person who looks for the positive in most situations. This attitude has taken me far and I think that has been the greatest help in my training and development at various institutions.
It was by accident that I started my student position in graduate school when I did. We were preparing for the kickoff to the Centennial Campaign for the university’s centennial celebration. I went a whole month and a half without doing any portion of my job description. It was this experience that furthered my event planning background and experience, something that would come in handy a few years down the line. It was because of my positive attitude and my willingness to spend eight (plus) hours in a dirty basement doing a quality control check on 100 Facts about Kent State books, that I showed my flexibility and was allowed to assist with other details of event planning for the rest of my time in the position. It was through my internship at Baldwin-Wallace College that I learned the importance of balancing multiple projects. At one time, I had three different projects I was focusing on; all of them included lots of detail work, necessary for the projects to be successful. Both experiences have paid for themselves in full in relation to projects and adventures I have had in my current position.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be in a position where I would step up to the adventures of social media, recruiting, and large scale event planning-I would have told you that you were crazy. Reflecting upon what has occurred in the last four months and how I have become a better professional, co-worker, friend, daughter, and woman, even I cannot believe the transition that has occurred. I have learned so much in such a short period of time from everyone I have met. I have made the return to past jobs and also realized how far I have come. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Nelson Mandela
Take some time every week (every day if possible) for reflection. The lessons learned are definitely worth the time taken.