During times of change and transition, things tend to get hectic. Learning moments can easily be missed in the pursuit of your next job interview, job assignment, class project, or initiative. Great leaders are versatile and don’t lose sight of the importance of reflecting back on past events as a way to systematically prepare for the future.1 In the words of Peter Drucker, consultant, strategist, and one of the greatest management thinkers of the last century, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” The training and development literature also suggests that reflection can help fuel deeper learning and insight by looking at situations through a different lens.
How can you use reflection as a development tool during your MBA career journey? Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What insights have you gained from getting rejected during a job interview? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to ask for help from your career coach, faculty members, staff, or alumni? Have you looked back at vocational and/or psychological assessments to gain deeper understandings about yourself?
- Have you taken advantage of opportunities to participate in after-action reviews of team projects to capture best practices and avoid pitfalls in the future? As a team – and as individual members — what should you keep doing, stop doing, or do differently?
- If you’re graduating from the Smith School this semester, have you fully leveraged opportunities to connect with key faculty, staff, or alumni who have touched your life or might play a critical role in your future career path?
- What could you do differently, if anything, to help elevate our Smith School brand and strengthen our Smith community? How can you help us to foster our “Terps Helping Terps” philosophy in a way that benefits your leadership development, as well as our OCS mission of partnering with employers to infuse talent pipelines with exceptional Smith Terps?
- How might your actions or advice going forward help contribute meaningfully to building the alumni cavalry needed to propel us to new heights and become a core/desired recruiting partner for top companies?
Set aside the time to ponder.
No matter how busy you are, don’t underestimate the power of a reflective moment to harness plans for the future. According to David Peterson, Director of Leadership and Coaching at Google, setting aside as little as one minute each day to look inward (what am I trying to accomplish?), look outward (what matters to others?), look backward (what new things have I tried?), or look forward (what will I do differently?) can facilitate your ongoing growth as a leader.2 Consider spending time with friends at your favorite haunts (e.g., Elephant & Castle, Camden Pub, Bentley’s) sharing ideas and engaging in reflective conversations. By taking time to reflect and listen to your inner voice you can stay a step ahead of the competition and positively impact our brand.
And speaking of reflections…
This represents my last issue of MBA Career Terp Talk as I am transitioning out as the Assistant Dean of Corporate Relations and the Office of Career Services. It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity the last 6.5 years under Deans Alex Triantis and Anand Anandalingam. As I reflect back, I’m humbled and in awe of the passion, caring, dedication, commitment, hard work and trailblazing spirit that our OCS family put forth day in and day out to truly make a difference in the lives of our students, alumni and recruiting partners. In helping our Terps DISCOVER, DEVELOP, CONNECT, and ENGAGE, we have accomplished much, including:
- Maximizing “white glove treatment” of our recruiting partners through strategies like our annual Employer Forum and Employer Appreciation events, and our Diamondback Partner and Distinguished Recruiting Partner Walls and sponsorship programs;
- Envisioning and implementing impactful events such as Mock Interview Panels, Super Industry Days, and the Smith School Business Summit;
- Expanding our career coaching resources (including launching MBA Career Terp Talk!), career fairs, technology suite, and vendor partnerships to better meet the needs our all our entire MBA portfolio;
- Increasing connectivity with alumni through strategies such as our Backyard Networking Series and partnerships with our colleagues in Development and Alumni Relations;
- Enhancing our Smith MBA brand through presentations and engagements at national and international conferences such as the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, the Executive MBA Council, the GMAC Leadership Conference, and Universum’s Future Talent Summit.
Along the way, TRANSFORMATION, INNOVATION, COLLABORATION, INTENTION, CONTINUOUS LEARNING, PIONEERING SPIRIT, CALCULATED RISK TAKING and A FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE have served as our guides. I am also thankful to our Smith Village – those faculty, staff, alumni, and friends who have stepped up to foster the development of our Smith MBAs. Together we have brought our OCS and Smith School to new heights and built a strong foundation and brand for future growth and unlimited success. Perhaps most importantly, we have helped launch extraordinary careers of hundreds of next generation leaders who will no doubt carry forth our Terps Helping Terps spirit.
I am proud to pass the torch, aka turtle shell, to Patricia Reich, our incoming Assistant Dean and Executive Director of OCS who officially launches her Smith journey tomorrow, February 27th. Patricia was previously the Senior Assistant Dean of the MBA Career Center at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and will no doubt help propel our OCS and Smith School brand forward with her fresh perspectives, talents, and experiences. Please join me in warmly welcoming Patricia to our Smith School community.
P.S. Be sure to check out this week’s video for more insights from Smith alumni and friends about the power of reflective moments. Finally, I’d like to offer a special shout out to Avi Schneider and JoAnna Mak for serving as outstanding and creative co-editors of our MBA Career Terp Talk newsletter/blog!
1 See Ernst, C. & Martin, A. (2006). Critical reflections: How successful groups can learn from success and failure. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership. ISBN: 1-882197-93-3.
2 See Peterson, D. (2014). Agile or fragile: Coaching leaders to lead in turbulent times. Preconference workshop presented at the 29th annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, Hawaii.