Work-Life Lessons for a College Senior

This past January my daughter Claire, who is a senior at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. for a 3-unit communications class — crammed into 3 weeks.  The objective was to introduce the students to leaders in the communications field.  It sounded to me like 3 weeks of informational interviews; but since Claire has no clue what to do when she graduates, my husband and I figured it would be an opportunity to add more ideas to her already long list of career possibilities.

One of the requirements of the class was for students to blog about their experiences.  When she sent me the link to the blog, I was struck by some of the advice she noted from some very learned people.

Turns out advice for college seniors is also great advice for experienced business people.  Yes, I’m blogging about my kid’s blog.  But these 4 pieces of advice are great reminders for us all.

  1. Strive for openness in a world that thrives on working behind closed doors. (Brian Lamb, Founder, Executive Chairman, recently retired CEO of C-SPAN)  I have worked for Christian organizations for 25 years, both on the client and the agency side. This statement is especially true for Christian workers.   We are challenged to walk the tightrope of being Christians and being career-minded professionals. I found working for a ministry was one of the most challenging things I’d ever done in my Christian walk. The bar was incredibly high in terms of expectations for Christian behavior. Often the passion that drives us can be off-putting to others, and in an effort to move things forward, we may resort to manipulation. Truthfulness (and humility) need to win the day if we will be used by God effectively.
  2. How are you going to help organizations that you are a part of move forward? (Brian Lamb)  Newton’s First Law states that an object will remain at rest … unless acted upon by an external force. For most organizations, that external force is often a new leader who has great vision. At Masterworks we are never more excited than when our clients have vision to grow. After all, that’s why we are all at Masterworks — to effect change in our world through the organizations with whom we are called to work. As Christian workers, we are called to follow leaders (with discernment), not grumble about the changes we will have to face in the future. How will each of us use that passion that brought us into this work, to grow and change with those forces that call for change? At Masterworks, we have worked through a great deal of change in the last 18 months, led by President Steve Woodworth’s vision for more effective teams and better strategy for our clients. It has taken everyone in the organization to seek God daily about how using each of our unique giftedness can help our organization move forward.
  3. Everything will shift around, but good stories will remain a constant (Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS) I may be taking this one out of context a bit, but the fact is that new strategies, new channels and new opportunities for integration will continue to present themselves as the new wonders of our business. And they may be all that. But good stories are key to communicating the needs of our world to donors. That hasn’t changed in my time in this business, and I doubt it will change as we begin to broaden our strategies past mail, and into new generations who are motivated differently. Stories are part of the human experience and we fundraisers are less effective, even helpless without them.
  4. Make a case for your cause — don’t just spout your opinions. (Tom Rosentiel, Executive Director of the American Press Institute) In our work, stories make our case to donors. We can talk on and on about the academics of what we are trying to accomplish in our work, or quote statistics until we are blue in the face, but donors will not be moved by opinions or intellectual arguments. Remember that creating a compelling case for your cause involves good storytelling, strong offers and great creative so that donors have no questions once they read the appeal.

If you’d like to speak to me about finding a vision for your organization’s growth, telling great stories or making a compelling case for your cause, you can reach me at