The Space to: Blog

The Space in the Mungo Center

Code Red: Seniors, Launch Your Career Search Now

Written By: Jennifer Dillenger - Mar•31•14
Class of 2014 banner

The banner signed by the Class of 2014 during their early days as first-year Wofford students.

 

(Guest blog by Jennifer Dillenger, Director of The Space to: Prepare, Wofford’s Career Services office. You can reach Jennifer at dillengerja@wofford.edu.) 

 

Wofford College’s alumni office hosts a party for our senior class each year entitled the “50 Days Party,” honoring the ever dwindling number of days left in the school year as the senior class prepares for graduation.  It’s a lovely event, but it always results in a little panic among the students who have yet to receive job offers or graduate school acceptance.  With that in mind, here are five steps to launching your career search in survival mode. (I’ve written these tips to apply to any college senior, anywhere, but I encourage Wofford seniors who read this to come see us in The Space, where we’ll help with all five tips below.)

1.  Check your toolkit

A current resume is a must have for any job seeker.  You’ll need it for applications and networking.  In preparation for applications, ask several people to review your resume, proofing it for correct formatting, misspelled words, and solid descriptions.  You also need a cover letter.  While each cover letter applies to a specific job application, you should familiarize yourself with the format.  Finally, check your digital image: do you have an impressive LinkedIn account? Is your Facebook page clean? Do you need to delete any questionable Tweets?  Employers will complete a quick Internet search, so make sure you’re providing them with positive, complimentary information.

2.  Pick an Interest Area

“I can do anything, anywhere” is not a satisfactory, or successful, approach.  Instead, target a specific industry and job before beginning your search.  If you’re interested in finance, consider job postings for financial analyst, business analyst, financial advisor, account manager, loan counselor, financial examiner, treasurer, and the list continues.  You can quickly determine occupations for any industry, including non-profit work, banking, wealth management, publishing, reporting (TV, radio, print), the arts, healthcare, etc.  Targeting your search based on industry and specific occupations will greatly increase you ability to land interviews.

3.  Choose your top 3 cities

Just like narrowing your interests to include an industry and job titles, choosing three specific areas focuses your search and networking efforts on a manageable goal.  You can’t contact everyone you know in every city, and you can’t apply for every job in every city.  Choose to remain focused on your top three cities.

4.  Start talking with the “adults” in your life

Your parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, faculty, coaches and past supervisors care about you and often have thoughtful advice that will serve you in your search.  Ask them questions about their jobs, their search process, and contacts they can share.  Remember, you’re in a time crunch, so your stakeholders can become your greatest promotional weapon, opening doors and directing you toward better opportunities.

5.  Make an appointment with your campus career center

Many career centers charge alumni for their services, often only giving graduates 6-8 weeks post-graduation to utilize their resources.  Tap into their wisdom and assistance now.  A career coach can review your resume, proof your cover letter, outline a solid career search, and connect you with alumni.  Plus, he or she is a non-biased sounding board for your thoughts, fears and questions.  Don’t neglect this important resource: schedule an appointment today.

The time after graduation may seem like a murky, scary and unknown future, but using these 5 steps during the next 50 days will bring you closer to an exciting offer.

4 Reasons Why Wofford Teaches Entrepreneurship Right

Written By: Courtney Shelton - Mar•17•14
Photo of Wofford student pitching idea to panel of judges

Joseph McMillan, a 2013 Wofford College graduate and owner of Junk Matters, LLC, pitches his unique recycling business to judges at the 2013 Impact & Launch Competition.

(Guest blog by Courtney Shelton, Director of The Space to: Impact program. You can reach Courtney at sheltoncb@wofford.edu.) 

 

This Saturday, 43 student-created businesses and community impact projects will demo at Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina. At a time when entrepreneurship, innovation and design are hot topics and programs are launching all over the world to help people develop ideas into commercial and social solutions, why is a pitch competition at a southern private college important? Here are four reasons:

1. The entrepreneurship education offered by higher ed and private industry isn’t doing enough to help students be successful. In the best higher ed courses, most students create a business plan for a hypothetical organization. In industry courses, students are taught just enough to get their business idea to the pitch competition or demo day. While there may be a few exceptions out there, the vast majority of students aren’t being given the tools they need to be successful beyond the end of the course.

Students at Wofford create businesses and projects that are real, not just ideas developed on paper.  The projects our students will present in our Impact & Launch Competition on March 22 are in varying stages of development, but they are in development. Our students build upon a broad, interdisciplinary liberal arts education and then learn from business professionals who have started companies and can pass on real-world expertise. And all of our students learn the same planning and strategy methods whether they’re creating a for-profit businesses or a social good project. But the most important difference is they learn by doing. Period.

At Wofford, our students develop in what could be called an “incu-celerator” – a combined incubator (support services to allow projects to develop at their own pace) and accelerator (boot-camp approach for fast startup). Students enter our Impact (community impact and social good projects) and Launch (entrepreneurship) programs at varying stages. Some come in with a vague idea of something they are interested in pursuing, others have a business or project that is already up and running. But all students receive advising, mentoring and skill development regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of idea to execution.

The students presenting on Saturday have worked on idea generation, business plans, strategy development, value proposition, pitching and storytelling, web development, social media strategy, marketing plans, crowdfunding and networking. This goes well beyond the support students receive in any  incubator or accelerator I’ve seen. These skills will allow our students to be successful at further developing and growing their ideas long after they graduate. And these skills are highly transferable to the workplace, making Wofford’s entrepreneurship education highly relevant regardless of the outcome of a student’s business or project.

We have plenty of evidence our approach works: Last year, our three senior Impact & Launch Competition students graduated and now employ themselves (and others) in their businesses.

2. Entrepreneurship training at Wofford is open to all students, not just business majors and MBAs. The students presenting on Saturday represent nearly every major offered at the college. We don’t have a B-School or even a business degree. Our students bring a wide variety of knowledge and experience to their ideas. (Check out the Impact & Launch Competition website website to see the wide variety of academic backgrounds our students come from.)

3. It’s about more than a pitch competition or demo day. In a pitch or business plan competition, students typically present their ideas for a business. In a Demo Day, they present the actual business. If you’ve ever seen the reality television show “Shark Tank,” you’re familiar with the premise: aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their idea to a panel of investors, known as “sharks”, to have their idea ripped apart and potentially funded.  10 Wofford students will pitch to a panel of judges on Saturday. They are, however, not looking for the judges to invest or take equity in their organizations. 33 additional student projects and businesses will also be pitching, but to an audience of parents, friends, community members and other students. Our goal is less about students winning funding and more about helping them become proficient in public speaking, storytelling and pitching. We also want them to receive feedback from a panel of experts and have an opportunity to promote their businesses and projects to the larger community that will, hopefully, support their businesses during college and beyond.

4. It’s not all about funding. Yes, these students need funding to make their ideas happen. The winners of Saturday’s competition will split $10,000. We work with all of our students to create and execute a plan to receive the funding or investments they need. But we believe that money is not the only thing that will insure a business’s or project’s success. We’ve also secured over $12,000 in services from a variety of generous organizations (including legal, marketing and creative services firms and a coworking space). Rather than handing them a check and sending them out into the world, these services will help our winners continue to develop and grow what they are working on, further increasing their chances of success.

If you’re interested in seeing entrepreneurship education done in what we believe is the right way, I encourage you to come out on Saturday to see our Impact & Launch Competition. I promise you’ll be blown away by what these students have not just imagined, but accomplished. If you’re too far away to attend, I’d love to talk with you about our programs.

Do you agree or disagree with how we’re teaching entrepreneurship at Wofford? Know of any programs doing it differently or better? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Aerris Smith: 5 Teamwork Lessons from a Champion

Written By: Scott Cochran - Mar•13•14

 

Wofford’s Aerris Smith at the Southern Conference Championship men’s basketball game, Asheville, NC, on March 10.

 

“I’m at my limit… there’s nothing left in the tank… I gave 100%, did my absolute best and have zero regrets.”

There are only a handful of people who can really own that statement. I mean really own it. On March 10Aerris Smith, a Wofford College basketball player, owned it.

Aerris is soft-spoken and extremely gentle off the court – not quite what you expect from a 6’8”, 240 lb. forward. His Southern Conference Championship post game interview shows another side of this gentle giant and captures the essence of what it means to leave it all on the floor. As I listened to him speak, I was struck by a number of lessons he taught us in his brief six-minute interview:

1) He played his role

Aerris, the only senior on the team, averaged nine minutes per game but he made every second count.  His stats will not cause anyone to do a double take but he was critical to the team’s success. A key rebound here, a critical tap in there… things that really make a difference. Coach Young knows he made a difference, his teammates know he made a difference… and that’s all that matters.

Lesson: Learn how you fit within your team and play that role selflessly. Don’t focus on how much playing time you get, focus on how much you can contribute during that playing time.

2) He praised his team

“I couldn’t ask for a better team.” Aerris focuses on the team’s performance not his own. When asked about his “two huge rebounds at the end of the game”, Aerris praises the support his team has provided through the season.

Lesson: Look for the good that your team does and give them credit for great outcomes. Rarely does an individual win the game in a team sport and the same goes for work teams. When your teammates know that you support and appreciate their contributions, their confidence grows along with their willingness to put it all on the line each and every day.

3) He didn’t advertise his pain

Until his interview, you probably didn’t know Aerris has been playing with excruciating knee pain. In fact, it’s so bad he had surgery yesterday and will miss the NCAA tournament. But he never complained, never made excuses, and never asked for special treatment. Instead of using his injury to stop working hard – a fair option given it’s the end of the season and he’s a senior – he found an alternative way to stay in game shape: swimming. He got up every morning to swim alone so that he could effectively play his role when his team needed him most (and a tip of the hat to Wofford’s coaching staff for instilling a strong work ethic in players).

Lesson: There’s a difference between not feeling well and being sick. If you’re truly sick, take care of yourself. If you just don’t feel well, suck it up and give it your all. Either way, there’s no reason to tell everyone how hurt, sick or incapacitated you are. It can sound like an excuse and you never want to make excuses.

4) His emotional outpouring at the end is authentic

No need to elaborate on this too much. He loves what he is doing, his team, his coach, his school… and that’s why he plays the way he does.

Lesson: Do what you love and do it with passion. Don’t be afraid to show emotion – both joy and sorrow. If you love something it hurts when you lose; it’s euphoric when you win.

5) He won

Aerris won before the first shot was taken by the way he played the game. It’s not always about the score; it’s about how you play the game (BUT winning is pretty awesome!).

Lesson: If it’s worth playing it’s worth playing hard. Really hard. Never, ever give it less than your best.

I’ve had the honor of knowing this young man for the last four years. His passion is the sign of a winner and symbolic of Mike Young’s entire team. Way to go Aerris Smith and thank you. You’ve set a standard that will be tough to match. We will certainly miss your presence on the court at the dance.

You may want to save the link below for the next time you think you’ve given your all. I know I will.

So Con Championship – Aerris Smith Post-Game Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB-8qK2RI30&feature=youtu.be

Guest Blog: How to Find an Internship

Written By: Jennifer Dillenger - Feb•25•14

Photo courtesy of Ben Watts (bennwatts), Flickr Creative Commons

 

(Guest blog by Jennifer Dillenger, Director of The Space to: Prepare in The Space at Wofford College. You can reach Jennifer at dillengerja@wofford.edu)

 

When I watch the Super Bowl, one of my favorite moments always comes when the winning team “surprises” their coach by dumping a cooler of Gatorade on his head. It goes everywhere. I always think that if you were really trying to drink all that at once, you could never do it.  However, if I handed you a gallon at a time, you could drink it because the flow is under control.

This image reminds me of students trying to find an internship: there are so many options, so many opportunities, that the flow becomes overwhelming.  Before launching an internship search, take a few moments to focus and control your “flow.”

1.  Gather your tools

Every internship search needs a set of basic tools.

  • Start with a resume: almost every application requires one and your networking contacts like to see accomplishments and past experiences.
  • Next, review cover letters in preparation for writing one; learn to write concisely and persuasively about your skills, experience and knowledge.
  • Finally, create a LinkedIn profile. Already having a resume will make this process easy.  Look at the profiles of people working in your industry to make sure yours has the information recruiters will want to see.
  • Other tools may be necessary, depending on your search, but these will allow you to get started.

2. Choose your interest areas

Your major doesn’t automatically translate into a list of possible internships. Instead, take time to research specific interest areas.  Here, many students skim over the research and quickly determine healthcare, finance or another industry as an interest area.  However, you need to narrow this more.  Interest areas might include: commercial real estate, genetic counseling, sports marketing, artistic management, educational nonprofits, etc.

Use resources to understand these interest areas. Through The Space, you have access to Vault and ONET, both of which offer a multitude of vocational information, allowing you to discover interest areas never considered before.

3. Narrow your geography

Research and determine the three most appealing cities for your internship.  You should consider living expenses, travel costs and occurrence of internships in your interest area (for instance, hospitality internships are readily available in Detroit, MI).

I understand the desire to remain open to all opportunities, even to “keep your horizons broad,” but choosing 3 cities allows you to significantly focus your search, making it more efficient and increasing your likelihood of landing that internship.

This is just the start of your internship search, but beginning here ensures you have a firm foundation.  Commit yourself to this research and tool development now and it will equip you throughout this and every other search you conduct in the future.

With your tools in place, how do you begin the search? Read my earlier post on developing a search strategy.

And don’t forget, come in to The Space to: Prepare for help at any point in this process!

#Spaceversary

Written By: Scott Cochran - Feb•17•14

Wofford student Carly Egan explains her Impact Program project to guests at The Space launch party, February 16, 2013.

 

One year ago, The Space in The Mungo Center was born. Our goal from the beginning was to create the most effective, unique professional development program in all of higher education. There’s been a lot of talk over the years about college students not being properly prepared for life after college, doubly so for liberal arts college students.

With The Space, Wofford College set out to completely rewrite the way students bridge the space between the theoretical and the practical, the space between college and life after college. Improving a “little bit” over how we prepared students previously wasn’t enough. We wanted to change the game.

Our programs are bold and put students right in the epicenter of the action. From working shoulder to shoulder with C-level executives on a consulting engagement to launching a business that will employ them the day after graduation, our students apply their classroom learning – and then some – in real world situations… not a simulated “real world”… actual real world.

Our students aren’t business school students or MBA candidates, they’re art history majors, psychology majors, English majors… we’re open to every student at Wofford (and we often get requests for help from students at other colleges that don’t have these programs).

Our coaching programs are delivered by a team that has been there, done that. We’ve hired, been to grad school, consulted and operated in the corporate, non-profit, and entrepreneurial worlds. We know what skills, abilities, and behaviors students need in order to be competitive and we teach those skills. Students who take full advantage of programs in The Space develop an arsenal of weapons that complement what they’ve learned in the classroom. The result: They are truly prepared for life after Wofford.

Which brings me to our team. Simply put, I’m fortunate to be a part of the greatest team in the world. And no, I’m not overstating it. They are smart, creative, effective, dedicated, and caring (I could go on and on). They take their work seriously but not themselves. They go above and beyond every day to help our students get better. There’s not another group of people who I’d rather work with day in and day out. So thank you Jennifer, Courtney, Jeremy, Lisa, Kelly, and Rebecca for allowing me to work with you on changing our small part of the world.

(We’re doing a lot of celebrating this week, and we’d love for you to be part of it. Details here.)

7 steps to earning a living from your passion

Written By: Scott Cochran - Feb•10•14

 

Photo credit: Anthony Easton, Flickr

 

“You can’t make a living doing what you love. It’s just not realistic.”

So went the conversation I recently had with a former corporate-world colleague. He went on to explain that work was just that… work.

True. Work is work. But work doesn’t have to be a miserable, mind-numbing exercise that sucks the life out of you. It can be fulfilling and energizing. You can earn a living doing what you love. Here’s how:

1) Define Your Passion

What excites you? What makes you want to get out of bed every day? Teaching a late blooming 8-year-old to read? Creating a complex Excel model? Building wells to provide water for a village in a developing nation? Launching a business that you can call your own? Whatever it is, define it and write it down.

2) Record Your Options

Create a list of organizations where your passion’s activity takes place. Teaching late blooming 8-year-olds to read can take place in elementary schools, churches, community centers, and private companies that specialize in education.

 3) Practice, Practice, Practice

You need to become an expert at what you love and that takes a lot of practice. Teaching a child to read is not easy. It’s an art. Make it fun for them and you’re a wizard (wizards are in high demand). But being effective and making it fun takes practice. So put down that Xbox, shut down Facebook, research the best methods, and practice with anyone who will let you. Volunteers are needed everywhere. Go volunteer.

4) Network

Find others in the area you are pursuing. Ask them for guidance. Tell them your ideas and ask for feedback. Ask them to introduce you to others in their circle. The more people you know, the more options you’ll have.

5) Work, Intern, Consult, or Start Your Own Business… Now.

Contact the organizations you listed in number 2 and learn about their business. Search for opportunities to work or volunteer so you can learn by doing. The point is to get moving early. College is the perfect time to branch out and see if your path is a viable one. If it’s not, adjust and start again. You have four years get things in alignment before venturing out on your own. That’s more than enough time to find or create an opportunity in an area you love.

6) Create a Realistic Budget  

Know what the jobs you’re looking for pay and create a budget based on that pay. Fooling yourself into thinking you have twice the budget you actually do is a recipe for disaster. Money doesn’t buy happiness but mismanaging your money can sure cause misery.

7) Hustle

It can be difficult turning your passion into a living. It’s much easier to sit back and take whatever life throws your way. To make this work you need to get up earlier than everyone else and work harder. You are responsible for your success… no one else. If you engage in time-wasting, non-productive activities, you’ll need to replace them with 1 – 6 above.

If these seven steps sound too hard or like too much work, always remember that you have a choice: make your dream happen or give up. It’s up to you.

Explore your options at the Sophomore Experience

Written By: Guest Author - Dec•09•13
Bria Johnson at the Sophomore Experience

Bria Johnson at last year’s Sophomore Experience.

 

(Guest post by Bria Johnson ’15. You can reach Bria at johnsonbm@email.wofford.edu)

 

I can remember that exact reason I chose to attend the Sophomore Experience: I was unsure of what I saw myself majoring in, and I knew that it was the academic year to declare.

Like many people, one of my problems was that I found myself liking everything that I had done to some extent. Based on my classes, I felt like I could major in religion or biology or history or economics or really anything. I knew that I couldn’t do everything, but was unsure of how to narrow my choices.

I ended up talking to a fellow student about my problems, and she directed me to the Sophomore Experience. She had participated as a sophomore, and it didn’t take much convincing to get me to sign up.

The weekend was an amazing opportunity to reflect on myself and the effort that I was putting into the success of my own future and to see which major fit. Do you all remember taking StrengthsQuest as first-year students and seeing what your five strengths were?

Mine were:

  • Strategic
  • Restorative
  • Achiever
  • Input
  • Competitive

During the Sophomore Experience, we spent a few sessions discussing how to actually apply our strengths to the things we do; we learned how to apply them to a major, career, or generally everyday life. If you are “Restorative” like me, then you might learn that you are resourceful and would do well in an environment that allows you to solve problems. I think that it’s important to figure out where your strengths lie, so that you can apply them to every aspect of your life. After all, there is no better way to explore your options than to start with the things that you’re good at.

I will now go ahead and spoil the ending of my Sophomore Experience for you: that Saturday was the day that I decided to major in Economics. The next question was how best to apply my skills and experience to finding an applicable internship.

I have heard from many sources that networking is the best way to achieve success in the search for an internship or job. Some sources even say that 80% of today’s jobs are landing through networking. So, it seemed like a good skill to learn.

I honestly had no idea where to start with the process and it seemed overwhelming — Dean Cochran had once even told me that each week you should spend three hours working on networking, the same amount of time you would spend attending a class. Before the Sophomore Experience, I did not have enough knowledge to spend an hour networking, let alone three each week.

After our session on networking, however, I found myself provided with so many ways to network that I might as well have majored in it. From using Linked-In to writing thank-you letters to creating your own business cards, the possibilities now seemed endless to me.

I honestly could go on for a while about how much I enjoyed the Sophomore Experience, but I think that it would be easier to tell you where it has brought me almost a year later. As a junior, I have been to The Space more times than I can remember to attend talks, get help preparing documents (like my resume) and sometimes just stopping by to talk to the staff when I just felt lost. These visits led to securing an internship, finding a mentor, selecting the right majors for me (economics and intercultural studies), gaining great contacts and friends and just overall feeling less stressed about where the future will take me.

I can’t say that attending the Sophomore Experience has given me all the answers, but it has led me down a path of more certainty. My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to stray from the path, you might find something of interest if you just look a little.

(Want to sign up for The Sophomore Experience? Visit www.wofford.edu/thespace/se14blog to register by December 13!)

Need some career soul-searching? Try an internship!

Written By: Erin Emory - Nov•04•13
Graphic by Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons

Graphic by Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons

 

(Guest post by Erin Emory, assistant director of The Space to Prepare. You can reach Erin at emoryeb@wofford.edu)

 

Two students walk into a job interview.

(I know it sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, but just keep reading…)

Both students have the same GPA, same major, similar campus involvement, study abroad experience, and proficient interview skills. But there’s something one has that the other doesn’t, and that one thing is going to guarantee the job offer: an internship!

Why does an internship matter so much?

More students than ever are currently attending college, which means greater competition for jobs upon graduation. An internship is your way to climb past your peers. The majority of employers we interact with say they want to see at least two internships on a resume.

But just listing an internship on a resume doesn’t mean much if you have nothing to show for it. Internships provide an array of knowledge and experience that you may not otherwise secure. They give you the chance to work with professionals in the field and gain an edge over students who never sought out the opportunity.

My advice: Take advantage of every second! You may have to fetch coffee every now and then but you may also sit in on board meetings, shadow clients, maintain the marketing page, assist a team in building the company’s latest and greatest app, or countless other possibilities. Don’t hesitate to get involved and constantly be on the lookout for a learning opportunity to dive into. Besides that, it’s a great way to build your network and future connections you may find valuable down the road!

So, gain experience and build connections…what else?

Every day, I talk to students who are torn about what they want to do after graduation. “I was thinking about business but I also really like marketing. I’m just not sure which I’m more interested in.” Internships help you decide, or at least deduct from your running list of interests, to give you a clearer direction.

An internship also lets you learn the inner workings of industries and jobs. This is info you don’t get from a Google search. You learn what the culture of the industry is like, the skill sets and hours required, and more. You also find out what is most important to you – a little career soul-searching, if you will. Maybe you really like working with people, but phone communication isn’t your thing. Maybe long hours don’t matter as long as the office culture fits. These are all lessons that come from first-hand experience and that comes from an internship.

Still not sold?

Would it help to know that employers made full-time offers to 56.5% of their interns?*

An internship doesn’t guarantee you a job offer, but for over half of the intern population, they either walk away from the internship with an offer or receive one down the road at the time of graduation. I’d say that’s a pretty great incentive for doing an internship and doing it well!

The list of reasons to complete an internship could go on and on. And now that you’ve been persuaded, you’re ready to go forth and conquer, right? We can help you do that! Be sure to visit The Space to: Intern page on our website for more information about how to get the process started.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is build a resume, and you can find more information about that here. From there, schedule an appointment to meet with a Career Coach (like me) in The Space to: Prepare to talk about your interests, timeline and next steps.

It is never too early to do an internship, so why not get started now?

 

Source: The National Association of Colleges and Employers.

8 Lessons on Starting Something (from a Beginning Piano Student)

Written By: Courtney Shelton - Oct•28•13
Courtney Shelton at The Space piano

Courtney Shelton at The Space piano

 

(Guest blog by Courtney Shelton, Director of The Space to: Impact program. You can reach Courtney at sheltoncb@wofford.edu.) 

This summer I started taking piano lessons…at the age of thirty. I have wanted to learn how to play the piano since I was a teenager. I even contemplated taking it as an elective in college, but was afraid to start for fear that I would be too far behind the other students. When I inherited a piano last spring and was confronted with my desire to learn to play each day as I walked through my living room, I finally decided to do something about it.

When I started taking lessons, I had no clue what I was getting into. I didn’t know how challenging it would be or how much it would stretch me. Suddenly I found myself identifying with the students who sit across the desk from me every day. The Impact and Launch program is about encouraging college students to start something. Our goal is to encourage them to become do-ers who have the confidence and willingness to give voice, thought, and action to their passions and ideas.

Starting something is a process, not a one-time event. Taking on the task of learning piano has given me a fresh understanding for our students and why it can be hard to maintain focus, enthusiasm and drive for their projects.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from my own journey to help combat those problems and stay on course.

1. It’s about becoming someone who listens to what may seem like a small idea or passion – those thoughts and “what ifs” we all wonder about – instead of ignoring them and pushing them to the side.

2. It’s about starting. There are a lot of barriers to starting something and plenty of reasons not to.  Let’s be honest…starting something can be scary. What if I look like an idiot? What if I fail? Sometimes I felt silly as I sat at my piano pecking away at Yankee Doodle, but I was darn proud when I finally nailed it.

3. It may not come naturally or easily once you decide to start. I would love to tell you that I sat down at my first lesson and my piano teacher praised me for being a natural. Or that within the first few weeks I breezed through all the beginner songs (like Mary Had a Little Lamb) and moved on to highly advanced classical pieces. But that would be a lie. I am not a natural, and it does not come easily for me. Sometimes at the piano, I break into a sweat because my brain works so hard to figure it out (and from the anxiety of how silly I must look.) But I think we learn the most about ourselves from the things that don’t come easy.

4. It’s tempting to quit. I’m busy. I have a lot of commitments on my time. It would be easy to make room in my schedule by quitting piano. It takes continued effort each week to show up. I don’t want to be the best nursery rhyme pianist you have ever met, so that means I have to move on to more challenging songs. I don’t want to quit just because it’s hard, even though it’s tempting to.

5. Part of getting better means having people in your life that challenge you. That means you have to get used to not always hearing praise. My piano teacher challenges me each week in my lessons, and she is honest when I can do something better. She helps me break down challenging parts of songs into smaller more manageable chunks and pushes me to practice it over and over again until I get better. It would be easy for her to let me settle, tell me how great I am all the time, let me skip hard parts of songs or lower the bar so that it is easy for me to reach. But I am (mostly) thankful that she challenges me.

6. Let people cheer you on. I need my teacher to challenge and push me, but I also need cheerleaders who tell me how freaking awesome my Mary Had a Little Lamb is.  Just when the hill you are climbing starts to feel too steep to keep going, it’s a powerful motivator when you have friends who celebrate and cheer you on.

7. It takes practice. I have to play a song over and over again, often hitting wrong notes and messing up the rhythm, before it starts to take shape and sound recognizable, much less good. It takes different iterations before most things are considered awesome. That’s why Apple continues to develop and improve the iPhone.

8. It’s worth it. I may never receive applause from an auditorium full of people, but that’s not why I wanted to learn to play the piano. It’s about stretching and growing. But that process is also a heck of a lot more worth it if you have fun and enjoy it. It certainly can be stressful. I’ve mentioned the challenges a lot. But it all started with a passion for music and the joy that can be found there.

It’s not always perfect, but at the end of the day I’ve started making music.

What is stopping you from starting something? When it gets tempting to walk away, what keeps you motivated and on track?

The Challenges, and Rewards, of a Student Consulting Project

Written By: Guest Author - Oct•21•13
Photo of consulting group

Caroline Winn, third from left, with her Yummy Club consulting project teammates. Jeanne Howell, the show’s creator, is pictured standing, with her husband Fred.

 

(Guest blog by Wofford student Caroline Winn ’16, who participated in a consulting project for The Yummy Club, a children’s television show about healthy eating. You can reach Caroline at winncj@email.wofford.edu)

 

I admit that the idea of working on a consulting project in The Space intimidated me.

At first.

I didn’t have any experience in the consulting field – to be honest, I wasn’t even sure what a consultant really did. I attended the interest meeting for the Yummy Club Consulting Project on the sheer personal inclination that I needed to do something – anything – that would involve me in The Space’s programs and prepare me for the workforce.

As I listened to Scott Cochran, Dean of The Space, explain the project during the interest meeting, I had a vague image of students in business suits offering opinions on this idea of a new children’s cooking show.

Intrigued by the concept of consulting, I joined the project. My team was charged with the creation of a thorough feasibility report for a 13-part children’s TV show focused on healthy eating. I penciled in the presentation date in my calendar: a month and a half after our group’s first meeting.

I’m going to level with you – at first I didn’t understand the term “feasibility report.” Scott sat down with us during our first meeting and cleared up all of my confusion. As consultants, we were to research the client’s proposed project and, based on our findings, suggest improvements or alternatives. Our feasibility report was to be the document that we handed to our client, the complete packet detailing our research and any recommended changes.

In the feasibility report, we answered questions such as:

  • Is the proposed budget accurate and reasonable?
  • Is there an interest for a new children’s cooking show?
  • What is the best way to broadcast this show?
  • Who are potential sponsors?
  • How can we maximize the impact and viewing audience of the show?
  • What are some interesting and creative titles for the program?
  • How do child labor laws affect the show’s flexibility?

We researched all of this – and more.

Some of the information was incredibly challenging to find. At times, I suspected we might not be able to provide a thorough report.

Especially with regard to the budget. How could we determine how much it would cost to build a functioning kitchen to use as a site for the TV show? And where in the world would we put this kitchen after we built it? I think I grew a couple grey hairs.

On the other hand, some of the research was very enjoyable. My favorite part of working on the consulting project was my restaurant research. I called a few dozen restaurants and discussed the possibility of filming an episode of the Yummy Club TV show in their kitchen. Perhaps, I asked the managers, one of your chefs would like to demonstrate how to make one of the restaurant’s kid-friendly menu items?

I called restaurants of all types in five prominent cities. One day I talked to a classy seafood establishment in Charleston, a BBQ joint in Spartanburg, and an Asian grill in Columbia. The next day I phoned a health foods bar in Greenville and a Mom & Pop diner in Charlotte. I loved it.

Prior to the consulting project, I hadn’t realized how much goes into the production of a television show. Furthermore, I hadn’t realized how viable and serious a consulting career can be.

I learned a lot. Working in a team helped me develop communication and delegation skills. We held each other accountable, and so I learned about the professional and tactful way to keep group members on track (and how to gracefully accept when I needed to step it up). Contacting dozens of restaurants was fun, but it also required organization and tenacity on my part (some restaurant managers were evasive or very busy when I called).

At the end of our project, we gave a formal presentation to our client – but not until after we had practiced public speaking and presenting with Scott.

I hope I can work on another consulting project before I graduate. It was a valuable experience, and I had a great time working with Wofford students (some of whom I would have never met outside of the consulting project).

The best part? Our presentation went really well. We nailed it. Even the budget.

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