By Lisa Burton '10
My journey at Mays has come full circle. After beginning as a graduate student here more than four years ago, I am back as an employee – and I feel as if I’ve come home.
Making the decision to go back to school as a single mom of two teenage boys and working full-time was difficult, but I knew that it was something I had to do in order to make a better life for my family. I still remember my first classes, which were prerequisites for my Master of Science in Marketing degree.
Being among so many younger, fresher students was intimidating, and I was sure they were all much smarter than me. Group projects afforded me the opportunity to get to know my fellow students better, and it wasn’t long after that I discovered that just as most things are, learning is a two-way street. I was being exposed to people from different cultures and different stages in life than myself. My life was enriched by them, but what could they possibly gain from knowing me?
After re-marrying and being able to concentrate on graduate school full-time, I was able to accept a position as a teaching assistant. I thought it would be fun – after all, I had always enjoyed playing “school” as a child. Being in front of a class and leading discussion groups with some of the smartest students in the nation invigorated me. Each Friday I was amazed at the intelligent comments and discussion that took place in room 155. In return, I was able to offer my life experiences and advice to help them along their way.
After graduating in December 2010, I went to work in marketing and staff development for a local non-profit. Since I had a family, relocation wasn’t really an option for me, so my career choices were quite limited. I spent my time there mentoring staff on professionalism, instituting new fund-raising initiatives and working on improving the public image of the agency. I loved my job and I truly enjoyed making a difference, but something was missing.
I discovered that something when I opened an email from Dr. Stephen McDaniel, my former MS program advisor. The Career Coordinator position for Mays Business School had been open for some time, and there was a full-on push to find someone to fill it. Usually, I wouldn’t open the job opportunities that were sent out to former students, but for some reason, on that day, I opened the email.
I began my career at Mays on August 20th. Each week has been filled with a flurry of activities including reviewing resumes, walk-in advising and two career fairs. Each visit with a student demonstrates to me how much I can help them through mentoring, coaching and encouraging them. I know they are better for having worked with me. I have seen it in the improved resume, or the professional appearance and demeanor exhibited with potential employers. I hope our students know that I truly want to do whatever I can to help guide them toward having successful and fulfilling careers.
I have my dream job because I am making a difference. Why shouldn’t they have theirs?