Mentoring Matters: The Great That I Am

About the Writer: Ebony Martin is a senior at the College of William & Mary. She is an Africana Studies major concentrating in African-American Studies. On campus, Ebony is involved in SPAN and serves as a research fellow for WMSURE. Ebony works in the Office of First Year Experience in undergraduate belonging and peer mentorship.


In response to the quote, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”- Bob Proctor

I think this quote is amazing and I think it embodies everything that a mentor should be for you. I have been mentored and I have been a mentor and I know for a fact that had my mentor not seen more in me than I did in myself that I would not be where I am today. I was pushed exhaustingly, I was given all the tools that I needed to be successful, but I was also encouraged. I was told, “I needed to stay out of my own way; that I needed to stop letting my own limitations hold me back from the great that I am.”
Even more than all of these things, I was supported. I was watched over, all of my events were attended when it could be done, all of my accomplishments, both big and small were magnified. I was given the confidence that I always wanted and needed. I feel like to be a mentor, you and your mentee have decided together that something in you has inspired them to want your guidance in one or more aspects of life.

After making that decision you and your mentee create a relationship that is built intentionally to help you navigate through those places that you feel they have obtained some sort of mastery. That is not to say that your mentor is all-knowing, but they have a great wealth of knowledge on the topic and some does and do nots from their own experiences, so at least your mistakes, if any can be different from the ones that they have made. You establish a relationship built on trust and reliability believing that this person wants to be by your side to help you to enhance the qualities that you already have even if you did not know that you had them.


This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.

Mentoring Matters: An Ode to AP English

About the Writer: Anee Nguyen is a sophomore in the St Andrews and William & Mary Joint Degree Program. Currently in Scotland, Anee studies English with a minor in history. In her free time, Anee likes to use the metro system, write bad poetry, and watch what Audrey Hepburn movies are still left on Netflix.’


Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve wanted to go into education since I was 12. Between the amount of times I’ve mentioned teaching or English it’s not too hard to see how dead set I have been on doing this one profession for the rest of my forever. And it started with a person.

Not me, funnily enough, but with a teacher, which isn’t surprising. I have had teachers and professors my whole life, and my inspiration to become one stems from each and every one of their passions and dedications, but there was a particular woman who taught me so much about education and English and about being a good productive human of this earth.

Ms. Blankenship showed me that unconventional thinking is the best kind. She reminded all her students, and drove home in me that everyone thinks differently, and that is the most valuable thing you can learn from one another. She made me feel empowered and I worked hard to make her proud because she is one of the most brilliant minds I think I’ll ever know. She taught me that everyone is human, and humanity is what moves us to make changes in the world, to find love and to create happiness. Blankenship gave me so much self-confidence by telling me the truth, the hard and real way. She shared so much with me that I can only hope to share in one of my students when I become a teacher.

As a mentor, Ms. Blankenship was the mother bird to my attempts to fly. She consistently pushed me out of the tree until she knew she could trust me to jump off myself, to take risks and chances knowing that she would be there to catch me when I inevitably bumped into a few branches on the way down. I ran to her to tell her about my college acceptance, and then again to ask for her advice on joining the St Andrews program. I ran to her when I came home from college and made her argue with me on all my new ideas on papers I had written. I ran to her when my brother fell off his bike and had a huge gash on his face. I ran to her because I knew she would push me to find my own answers, and not give them to me. Her way of teaching me to be my own person was something I only wish I could emulate later on. I think the greatest compliment she ever gave me was that she and I think in the same way, using charts and visuals to create ideas. Ms. Blankenship helped to uncover who I am now and gave me a good visual for the woman I want to be in the future. Thank you, Ms. Blankenship. You rock.


This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.

Developing Your “Hired Mindset”

Authored by Sean Schofield, Assistant Director– Cohen Career Center


“I don’t have any relevant experience,” said the downtrodden student holding a white piece of printer paper marked only with contact information and large heading labeled “Education.” The very same student who, less than five minutes into our appointment, would go on to reveal former part time employment at a restaurant, research with a faculty member, membership with a fraternity on campus, and time spent volunteering at a local Boys and Girls Clubhouse.

The most exciting part of my job is not helping students develop the transferrable skills that employers seek, it’s helping students build and share the story of the rich and diverse experiences they have taken part in… stories that speak to any potential employer. It’s helping students start to think differently about the life that they’ve led so far, and to empower them with the understanding that there are three primary components that make up what I like to call “The Hired Mindset.”

1) Understand that Organizations Hire PEOPLE, not Machines

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear when I work with students is that they do not have the requisite skills necessary to secure opportunities in a field of choice. The problem with this concept is that people like, enjoy, converse with, and ultimately hire PEOPLE. This flies in the face of what most students believe, a perception that often confuses employability with titles, language proficiencies, or the equations that we can solve. All that skills and abilities can do is tell part of a job or internship candidate’s story. Take, for example, one of the most common ways for any employer to open a job interview – “Tell me about yourself.” A simple prompt, allowing us to speak on the one area in which we are a true expert, yet this statement strikes fear into some of the most competent applicants. Tell me about yourself is one of the best opportunities to “set the stage” for interview success, and one of the only parts of a job interview that you can really practice thoroughly. Don’t waste time talking about superfluous things, but instead discuss who you are academically, talk about extracurricular involvement, and allow your goals and passions to shine through – but make them relate to the position, the organization, and the industry.

2) Some Skills and Competencies are ALWAYS Transferrable

While you, as a job/internship seeker, should be measuring your potential employer with regard to your Values, Interests and Aptitudes, the hiring official(s) will be measuring you on whether or not you will help them advance their goals, fit in with their organizational structure and culture, and represent them well when it counts. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) lists seven highly important competencies that students must demonstrate in order to get hired (www.naceweb.org), for which I offer my basic interpretation of each:

  • Critical Thinking – This is not only measured by your grades and ability to solve complex problems, but also by the creative ways you approach obstacles.
  • Communications – Not just your ability to speak or write, but also your ability to listen and follow instructions. You can successfully demonstrate communication skills by showcasing your ability to relay information, and by proving that you can listen to and interpret information.
  • Collaboration – Everyone wants a team player, and you will need to be able to work with a diverse group of people (diversity can be measured in a number of ways) to accomplish a common goal. Students are often concerned with leaving their “legacy,” which they believe to be accomplished only when operating independently from the greater group, but collaboration is what wins championships on the field and keeps residence halls running smoothly.
  • IT Application – Familiarize yourself with the technical needs of each position that you apply for, and make sure its application will not be a point that holds you back. YouTube and Lynda.com are great ways to learn technical skills that will impress potential employers.
  • Leadership – The most misunderstood of all of the competencies! We think that a chief officer of an organization leads, but true leadership lies in a person’s ability to lift up those around them, or assist others in making meaning of their experiences.
  • Professionalism – This may be tough to hear, but you are a brand. Everything that you do will either support and grow, or diminish your brand in the eyes of others. Those Facebook posts that you think are inaccessible to employers are not, what you tweet is viewable to the world, and the way that you dress and present yourself when meeting people goes a long way in demonstrating your character. Make sure you treat every day like a job interview!
  • Career Management – Develop your ability to describe your experiences and connect your past with your present and future! This is also a chance to reflect upon areas where growth and development are needed.

3) Storytelling Can Get You a Job

Let’s face it, storytelling is an effective way to get a point across. There are multi-million dollar industries based upon people’s willingness to sit and watch a good story play out on the screen, stage or television, and few people find themselves apathetic to the hero’s journey (the formula that plays itself out in nearly every classic according to Matthew Winkler’s TED-Ed Animation). Although it may seem a bit erroneous to measure your accomplishments against those of Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen or Frodo, when you speak about your experiences, frame them in the following way: you faced a conflict or challenge, you developed and implemented a solution, and the day was won. Getting hired isn’t about each individual experience you’ve had, it’s about how you weave them into a story that the hiring manager is excited to hear.


During the 2016 #NoTitleNeeded initiative, we hope you and your organization will focus on emerging contributors within your group or cause. The belief that you are capable is one of the greatest contributors to leadership efficacy. Build this leadership efficacy in your members by thanking them for the (#NoTitleNeeded) contributions they are making to your shared goals. Would you like to celebrate #NoTitleNeeded, but in need of materials? SLD is offering a #NoTitleNeeded pack complete with buttons and stickers! Sign up to receive a #NoTitleNeeded Pack here: http://bit.ly/2fvV71r

#NoTitleNeeded When Home for the Holidays

Authored by: Jennifer Leung


Next week many of us will head home to begin a season of holiday gatherings with friends and family.  One question you are sure to be asked (other than “what’s your major and what are you going to do with it after graduation?”) is “so what clubs did you join?”  Here’s a great opportunity to practice #NoTitleNeeded.

When responding to the question(s) about what you are involved in at William & Mary, try not to list off the organizations and positioned leadership titles you hold, but instead start with sharing what you care about and how that drives your involvement on campus.  Here’s how it might play out:

Aunt Martha: “It’s so good to see you William/Mary!  I hear from your mom that you are becoming quite the leader on campus, tell me about the clubs you joined and what positions you’ve been elected to.”

William/Mary: “Well Aunt Martha, since I’ve gotten to school, I’ve really learned that I care about building community and helping other students feel supported and included, so I’ve chosen seek opportunities on campus that let me do good work on campus to do just that.”

Aunt Martha: “But I thought you were an RA?  What other positions do you hold, you were always a leader as a kid.”

William/Mary: “Your right, I am an RA, but not because of the title, but because it gives me a chance to help new students in transition feel welcome and like they are a part of our William & Mary community.”

Obviously, your conversation isn’t going to be so scripted and formal, but you get the idea……lead with what you care about, rather than the position or titles you hold and you’ll be practicing #NoTitleNeeded! You might be hesitant to try this at first, like that suspicious looking side dish one of your relatives brought….but just try it, you might like it.


Join Student Leadership Development for #NoTitleNeeded November!

Join Student Leadership Development in our celebration of #NoTitleNeeded November! Staff members will continue tabling in Sadler Center on Thursday, 11/17 at 5:00PM.

If you’d like to bring the #NoTitleNeeded message to you, sign up to receive a  Student Leadership Development #NoTitleNeeded pack

 

 

Student Leadership Development’s #NoTitleNeeded November

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“Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…They set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role-always about the goal.” – Lisa Haisha

Join us this year as we celebrate #NoTitleNeeded this November!

Join us this November as we celebrate #NoTitleNeeded!

Student Leadership Development’s #NoTitleNeeded initiative exists to encourage students to recognize and celebrate where leadership and contribution take place without a reliance on position, title or role. Leadership is a process amongst all members and through #NoTitleNeeded we work to elevate the concept that it is not about the role (or title) but always about working toward a shared goal together.

During the 2016 #NoTitleNeeded initiative, we hope you and your organization will focus on emerging contributors within your group or cause. The belief that you are capable is one of the greatest contributors to leadership efficacy. Build this leadership efficacy in your members by thanking them for the (#NoTitleNeeded) contributions they are making to your shared goals.

SLD is excited to celebrate #NoTitleNeeded and we hope you’ll join us! Join us in Sadler Center on Tuesday, November 15th through Thursday, November 17th to pick up swag, participate in the photo campaign with the #NoTitleNeeded boards, and write a note card to someone who you would like to recognize.

Do you want to celebrate #NoTitleNeeded, but in need of materials? SLD is offering a #NoTitleNeeded pack complete with buttons and stickers! You can register to pick up a #NoTitleNeeded Pack here: http://bit.ly/2eJN5ic Please register by Friday, November 18th and packs will be ready for pick up in the Student Leadership Development Office (Campus Center Room 203) between Tuesday, November 15th and Tuesday, November 22nd.


Be sure to check out our handy guide here with suggestions on ways to recognize others:  #NoTitleNeeded Resource. Remember that the sky’s the limit as you recognize others!

 

Exploring The Three Phases of Citizenship

Authored by Caroline Ott, Graduate Assistant- Fraternity and Sorority Life, Office of Student Leadership Development


With a presidential election looming in the week to come, the word citizenship takes on many different passionate meanings. What comes to your mind when you hear the word: citizenship?

Nelson Mandela once said, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. Citizenship can appear in your residence hall, your apartment, the classrooms you are in, or student organizations you are a part of. You can find it in your family, your friendships; citizenship can happen anywhere!

Citizenship can be broken down into three phases:

Coming Together

Any group of individuals that come together and form a group have completed the first phase of citizenship. Although we can all be good citizens individually, citizenship often comes in the form of a group and their collective leadership skills. A good citizen realizes that citizenship goes beyond the individual, or even the group, and is about the community.

Acting responsibly

In the second phase groups must share similar values and/or beliefs and a desire to make their community and the world a better place. This common purpose drives the individual or group to act responsibly in all of their actions, and in those actions to consider how all of those around them will be affected.

Interdependence

The final phase of citizenship is interdependence. Citizenship requires that individuals acknowledge the interdependence at work of all of those involved and affected by good citizenship, and how the web of positive actions connects us all.

Citizenship is the finale in the social change model. It is taking all of the aspects of creating a strong group and enacting those values to create positive change! We challenge all of you to display good citizenship in all of your community whether they be here at William & Mary or elsewhere!


This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php

Controversy with Civility

Authored by: Joe Wheeless, Assistant Director for Student Leadership Development, Office of Student Leadership Development


Dialogue. Conversation. Discourse. All of these are words that can be used to define Controversy with Civility. What is Controversy with Civility anyway?

To start, it’s a concept that’s part of the Social Change Model. Specifically, one of the 7 C’s needed to enact change in a group or society. But let’s break the concept down; how can three simple words bring so much depth to the Social Change Model.

Controversy is disagreement. It can be public and heated, but it doesn’t always have to be. We see this every day at all levels of society and it’s a natural part of life.

Civility is polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior. If you have ever watched C-SPAN while Congress in in session and seen speeches on the floor, you have witnessed some of the highest levels of civility. Addressing one another in the third person and through the “speaker” is a high form of politeness. Some have argued this is too much civility, but that’s another post for a different blog.

Now we turn to the middle word of this concept, with. I believe this is the most important of the three words. With means that people are things are together in one place. In other words, they BOTH exist together. Let that sink in…. it can be pretty powerful.

To say that disagreement and respectful behavior are existing in the same space is easy to see and understand, but that begs the question, why is it needed for change?

Differing opinions are good for groups and organizations because somewhere in the middle is the path of the organization. Disagreement, conversation, opinions, are all things that build the character of an organization; that make the organization who it is. If you’re trying to make change in a group, there are going to be members of that group who have differing ideas on how that change should happen. The conversation about the in between is where you get the direction you want to go it. So you have to have people in disagreement to move forward. It’s just the disagreement has to come with some respect for the opinions and the person.

There are many ways this concept shows up in daily life. Especially in this election season. But I’m going to keep this post out of the realm of politics.

Controversy with civility is needed and it going to happen in organizations. We are going to disagree and that’s okay. But if we can respect one another for having differing opinions, thoughts, and ideas, our organizations and groups are going to be better for it.

By committing yourself to have respectful disagreement in your organization you commit to having a stronger organization.


This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php

Depth Over Breadth Student Spotlight: Ben Zhang


Today’s Depth Over Breadth student spotlight is Ben Zhang.

Ben’s nominator shared,
“Humans is one of his few commitments at W&M, but he excels at it in an extraordinary way that I do not think it would be where it is today without his thoughtful guidance and leadership.”

When asked to reflect on Depth Over Breadth, Ben shared,

Honestly, I think so many people on this campus exemplify fine leadership in their lives without even realizing it. Leadership can be as simple as taking the initiative in a class discussion or settling a conflict between friends. In some ways, we are literally “leading” our lives, and just like any other type of leadership, leading ourselves well requires a serious sense of mission, as well as a keen artistry in creative maneuvers. A lot of how I lead comes from my reflections on my own experiences working with other people, so perhaps my leadership style is simply an extension of my life.

On behalf of the Office of Student Leadership Development, thank you, Ben for your leadership and commitment!

Ben Zhang HoWM_DepthOverBreadth

Ben Zhang wanted to share this picture along with the following students who are members of the Humans of William & Mary team: Sarah Garratt (’16), Anna Booman (’18), Siobhan Doherty (’19), Dani Aron-Schiavone (’17) Jack Zhang (’18), Brenna Cowardin (’19), Rahul Truter (’19), Allison Shomaker (’16)

 

More Than One: Reflections on Successful Collaboration

Authored by: Erin Fleming, Graduate Assistant for Campus Programming, Office of Student Leadership Development


Collaboration

We often hear the word “collaboration” thrown around during our organization meetings. There tends to be so many events on campus, we try to collaborate in order to support initiatives held by two or more organizations. The basic concept, collaborations involve more than one organization. But beyond that, what does a successful collaboration look like?

Collaborative efforts can bring bigger publicity, more staffing, increased funding, and sometimes, it creates a much larger event. Successful collaborative efforts can change the entire experience of an event, but how do we get here?

In my undergraduate and professional experiences, I have found three things to be true about successful collaborations. They require effective communication, a shared vision, and a plan of action.  

Effective Communication

It may seem obvious, but to begin a collaboration there needs to be a targeted collaborator(s). This is an organization(s) that is interested in supporting your initiative and event. This is also an organization that is available to communicate frequently and often as you all work together in implementation.

Shared Vision

As you are initially communicating with your collaborator(s), before the planning begins, it is important to establish a shared vision. All organizations involved in the process should come together to establish shared goals, expectations, and a purpose for the event. By the end of this meeting, all collaborators should have the same understanding of what the event or initiative will look like. You may need to have several of these meetings throughout the planning process to maintain this shared vision.

Plan of Action

Once a vision is established, tasks should be delegated amongst the organizations. I have found greatest success when delegations are written down, then copied for each organization to take home. This way there are no questions as to who needs to do what. It also limits the risk of a task going undone because everyone is aware of what needs to happen to make the event successful.

Collaborative events have been some of my favorites. Organizations have the ability to meet new peers, become more familiar with other organizations, and expand their network around campus. Some of my favorite memories come from collaborative efforts. I wish the same for you!


This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php

Even When It’s Tough: A Reflection on Commitment

Authored by: Anne Strickland | Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Office of Student Leadership Development


Commitment.

What do you think of when you here that word?

Unfortunately, in today’s activity based society the word commitment often inspires thoughts of repetition and stasis. Where everyone is looking for the next big thing, who values commitment anymore?

When I was a student, I was surrounded by people telling me to do more, be more and keep striving to do it all.  But, when I had the opportunity my senior year to join an organization and focus on the work I was doing there, things really started to take off. I was truly enjoying my involvement and leadership and felt like my commitment to the organization helped me grow exponentially as a leader. This commitment was not just doing the job I was asked, it was volunteering for the other officer’s events, helping out in the office to fold programs, and helping further the ideals that the organization supported.

True commitment is not stasis. Commitment is actively deciding to focus your energy on a few things that matter to you and giving them your all. True commitment is the ability to stick with something even when it’s tough, and to keep coming back because lasting change does not happen overnight.

There is a reason Commitment is one of the Cs of the social change model. It is a value that one must make if one wants to become a successful leader.

To quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality”. So the next time you look at your obligations, think about making an active commitment to them, and you will grow as a leader exponentially.


This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change Leadership Conference.” This is a conference for student leaders (and advisors) looking to learn more about effective leadership and cultivating impactful change for the causes and organizations they care most about. We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php