This weekend I watched resiliency first hand, and it reminded me of my own personal leadership development needs. Here I sit, having been in this new assignment for seven months (see latest blog post for details). We’ve made tremendous progress—we have a vision in place with six strategies. Our four signature initiatives are:
- Career advising using a career cluster model
- Increased student engagement through better use of technology including a mobile-enable website and mobile apps
- Launch of an internship portal
- Integrated employer relations across schools.
We’ve presented to the UVA academic leaders and the UVA Board of Visitors, both of which have endorsed our direction. Our Career Services Council, a body of the leaders of career development across the University, plus parents, alumni, students and employers, is operational and working on the signature initiatives.
But like with all new initiatives, completing the mission won’t be easy. Patience and resiliency will be needed in order to gain momentum, align interests, and execute across the University.
Back to my weekend: I had the unique opportunity to attend the Fellows and Scholarship Weekend at Elon University, where my daughter, Christine, a junior, is the director of the Fellows program. This weekend the program invited 140 candidates for the incoming class of Leadership Fellows for “selection” weekend. I was invited to represent the parents of current Fellows and speak to future parents about the program. Until the storm hit. Trees fell. Buildings got hit. Ice covered everything. The town and University were crippled. Events were cancelled. My wife and I arrived in the heat of the storm—Christine and her team and administrators were trying to decide how to be safe, AND give the prospective students, most of whom had arrived earlier in the day, an experience that would be meaningful and convincing (to attend Elon) and allow for evaluation.
The next day, with a new, abbreviated schedule, little access to the rest of campus due to safety concerns, and fewer faculty and fellow students to help, the Leadership Fellows team***bragging father alert*** led by Christine, put on a terrific “sell” day. Every parent I spoke to was impressed with the program and the school and ***bragging father alert*** with Christine.
Beside beaming with pride, I could only think of one word to describe her reaction to the situation—resilient. She bounced back. Sure, she was disappointed, and knows things could have been so much better if the original plan was followed, but she made the best out of the situation. Wow! She was learning what the program was trying to teach her and her classmates. Not only was she learning it in the classroom, but in practice, which is the hallmark of a great leadership development program. Congrats, Christine.
And, well back to me and UVA. I’m proud to be associated with a University that is committed to student’s success after graduation. I’m honored to be a part of the planning and creation of what we are calling the Next Generation of Career Services at UVA. Now, as with any good plan, we have to sell it. We have to generate support and find funding. We won’t get everything we want to get started. We’ll be asked to prioritize and tighten the plans. We’ll be asked to do more with less. There will be detractors. There will be postponements.
But I have a role model now for the resilience that it will take to get to the finish line. Thanks Christine.