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Alumni Advantage Newsletter

Unfair Advantage

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November 2014 Articles:

Alumni Advantage is a newsletter for current students written by members of the National Professional Advisory Board and their colleagues. It provides insider advice, insight and inspiration so that when our graduates enter the real world, they are ready to rock it.

Five Important Lessons That I've Learned Since my Graduation from Texas Tech University (in 1982)
by Charlene Stark, photo courtesy of Charlene Stark

1) Passion will provide the highest level of energy and creativity for your career. "Following your heart" is a phrase that you may have heard. For some, finding their passion is difficult. We all can get a sense of what feels good and what doesn't. I encourage you to listen to your feelings and find work that you enjoy. If you don't like a job, look for learning experiences that will help you find the next job. Once you're in a situation that you enjoy, you'll wake up wanting to work and have the energy to achieve more than you might expect.

Charlene Stark

Charlene Stark

2) Confidence comes from experience. At Texas Tech, there were students who had a "presence" - when they walked in a room, people paid attention. I didn't have that gift and sometimes felt intimidated or insecure. That "presence" may have initial impact, but may not equate with success. What I learned as I gained experience is that success and confidence come from doing what you say you're going to do and stretching yourself beyond your comfort level. Bold ideas and tireless execution will achieve success and provide self-confidence while you build a reputation of results. With a results-based reputation, you may never have to look for a job - the opportunities will come to you.

3) Follow-through is important. As CoMC advisory board members, we often share advice and make introductions for students and recent grads. These are enjoyable experiences for us as board members and rewarding when we develop long-term relationships. What continues to surprise me is how few students follow up after the advice or introductions are made. For me, "linking in" on Linked In does not replace a thoughtful email that lets me know how my advice or introductions were helpful. As a result, I forget the earlier conversations and the Linked In connections are meaningless. Mindy Shepperd and Kristin Reilly are two recent grads who stand out. Not only did they stay in touch with me throughout their initial job search, they have stayed in touch with me years after their graduation. They are at the top of my list of recent grads that I would (and do) recommend for jobs. I encourage all students and grads to maintain relationships (beyond Linked In) with alums and professionals who invested time in you.

4) Stay connected with people who believe in you. Life and careers can be tough. Having one or two people who believe in you is a blessing. Maintain those relationships and remind yourself of their belief in you when job searches or jobs aren't going well. Tough times seem to go on for a long time. They are temporary if you persevere. Having people in your life who encourage you will provide you with the energy to persevere.

5) The Texas Tech community is valuable. I had no idea in 1982 how important my relationship with the Department of Mass Communications (now College of Media & Communication) would be in my adult life. Red Raiders are special. I rarely meet people who consistently have the kindness, sincerity and humor that I see in Texas Tech Media and Communication grads. In the last 14 years, my fellow advisory board members have helped me while I lost my dad to Alzheimer's and I reinvented a new career for myself. Serving as chair of the advisory board provided me with an opportunity to give back to a college and group of people who have shaped my life for 36 years. I have received much more than I have given.

Embrace each opportunity that comes your way. Your life can be a wonderful and exciting ride.

Charlene Stark

Charlene is the founder and president of Hope for the Brave. Along with founding board members, Jerry Hudson and Kirk Dooley, Hope for the Brave builds capacity for nonprofit service providers serving military veterans and their families. Prior to Hope for the Brave, Charlene served on the management team of NetSpeed (acquired by Cisco Systems) and was an initial member of the team that developed Dell.com. She was recognized as an outstanding alum by the College of Media & Communication in 2000 and has served on the college's national advisory board since 2000. Most recently, she has served as chair of the advisory board from 2012-2014.