If earning your degree is just an item to cross off your to-do list, you may be missing out on what AIU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Rob Manzer says is the key to success—for your career and for your life.
"The number one thing is to become reflective—thoughtful—about what you're doing," says Dr. Manzer.
That's right, take a moment and really think about what you're doing.
"Students everywhere pass through education without engaging in a thoughtful way. The number one thing to do is be reflective. If you do that, it will pay off over and over again."
Here's how Dr. Manzer recommends becoming a reflective person:
"Look back at the progress in your life and see the zigs and zags," Dr. Manzer says. "Be able to give an account of who you are, what you've done, and how it relates to where you want to go."
He recommends not undermining your degree and its value—especially in job interviews. "Don't just say, 'I have my degree; I met the requirements.' Say, 'Here's what I studied, here's what I learned, and here's how it fits in with my experience.' People underestimate their lives." He says your studies plus your experience and the ability to be reflective is the equation for moving ahead and successfully navigating the world.
Dr. Manzer has experience helping students with this concept of reflection, as he has helped those competing for Rhodes Scholarships. He would tell them their accounts needed to be so powerful that the panel would think, "If we don't give this person a scholarship, the world will suffer."
Start thinking about your personal account now. Set aside time to look back on your past, reflect on the present and examine the experiences you've had and the courses you've taken.
- What experiences and courses helped shape the person you are today?
- How have they cemented or altered your career path?
- What has been the most valuable thing you've learned?
"Internalize your education. Don't keep it at arms' length—get the most out of it," Dr. Manzer says. "If you want a job or a loan, provide a good account that reflects the totality of your background and what you've learned." It may just help you get what you want.
"It's easy to say 'Be reflective', but it's much harder to do," he says. So practice. "You will get better at it, and it will help you see your way."
As the old adage goes, "You can't know where you are going until you know where you've been." Don't miss the opportunity to examine your past and use it to your advantage to move forward in your life and career.
Read more career and life advice from AIU Leaders! University Dean Dr. Judy Bullock shares 5 ways to be proactive and climb the career ladder, while AIU Online Business Faculty Member Carol Sagers shares 3 tips for working mothers.