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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Amy Willard

Diary of an Intern: The First Week

Our student interns have experienced their first week at their internships.  They are doing some amazing work and partaking in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Let’s find out how their week went and view pictures of where they work.  Check out their first week!

I landed in Hong Kong about three weeks ago and my time spent here has been nothing short of amazing thus far. Realizing that I would not have a chance to explore the city and its surrounding islands after I started my internship, I decided to move in a few weeks early to find my bearings and enjoy my first trip to Asia.

View from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak

The first thing I did, after settling in, was hike Victoria Peak.  The many views from The Peak juxtapose Hong Kong’s metropolis with the vast rainforest it lies within. I also traveled to the nearby Lamma Island, where I went on a hike and ventured through the local fishing markets. On another excursion, I saw the famous Buddha statue on Lantau Island. 

Lantau Island from the top of the Buddha

Lantau Island from the top of the Buddha

But seeing as I am supposed to blog about my internship, I had better switch gears. I have now been an intern for the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong (RGS-HK) for just over a week. Every morning, I walk to the office using what is commonly referred to as “the escalator,” the world’s longest covered outdoor escalator system. RGS-HK has a broad range of functions and because only four of us are full-time, I have had the opportunity to work on several interesting projects. For one such project, I am putting together a report to The North Face in order to request a sponsorship contract renewal. One of RGS-HK’s main functions is to host, usually twice each week, expert guest lecturers who speak on a wide breadth of geographically related topics. In another project, I summarized 58 of these guest lectures for an annual publication that is distributed by RGS-HK to nearly 4000 members. The lecture topics were diverse and interesting, ranging from three-time ice climbing world champion Tim Emmett recounting his innumerable record-setting exploits, to well-known author and journalist John Garnout discussing the power dynamics of the current Chinese government. Most of my assignments are writing related and involve drafting, condensing, or editing and my office hours are 10:30am-6:30pm.

Inside the escalator

Inside the escalator

However, my responsibilities extend beyond the office.  At lecture events, I help with set up, take down, ticket sales, and whatever other tasks may come up. On these nights, I usually work until 9:00pm, but I am also allowed to attend the lectures.

Drinks and dinner with Jeff Widener

Drinks and dinner with Jeff Widener

This past Thursday, RGS-HK hosted Jeff Widener, the photographer who captured the iconic “Tank Man” image at Tiananmen Square, for the 25th anniversary of his photograph. After the lecture, the RGS-HK Director invited me to join him, Mr. Widener, and journalist Peter Eng for drinks and dinner at The China Club. Particularly as a Politics and International Affairs major, it was an unbelievable experience to meet someone who had such a profound and lasting impact on shaping the international perception of the Chinese government. The opportunities I have had, thus far, have been incredible. I am grateful to spend my summer in Hong Kong with the Royal Geographical Society and I am excited to learn what the coming weeks hold.

Charles Thomas ’16 –Politics and International Affairs major, Communication and Entrepreneurship double minor


Laura Jurotich

Hadwen House
Hadwen House

My first week on Nantucket island has been extremely eventful! After three flights I landed on Nantucket last Friday and moved into the historic Hadwen House built in 1845 on Main Street in the middle of town with the six other Nantucket Historical Association interns. Living in a 169 year old house definitely has its quirks, but it has been a wonderful experience. The other interns and I spent the first weekend exploring and getting acclimated to life 30 miles out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

Whaling Museum

Whaling Museum

We started work on Monday with a full week of orientation activities ranging from attending all the programs in the Flagship Whaling Museum on whale hunting, Nantucket history, and the sinking of the Essex whale ship (which inspired the ending of Moby Dick)  to visiting many of the NHA’s historic properties around the island including the Oldest House from 1686 to the oldest operating windmill in America. We learned how Nantucket was the whaling capitol of the world until the late 19th century, and it has over 800 pre-Civil war buildings still standing. Although it is small in size, Nantucket is overflowing with rich history and is one of America’s most treasured early settlements. I have definitely been soaking up the history and unique culture!

Oldest Windmill

Oldest Windmill

Laura holding a harpoon

Laura holding a harpoon.

I am a Public Programs intern, so I help with all the non-regular NHA programming like lectures, concerts, etc. We all have our own special projects that we will complete this summer in addition to our other duties, which I should find out in the next few days. This upcoming week will be fun and busy with visits to other museums on the island, a few lectures, and an ice cream social with other nonprofit interns on Nantucket. Everyone at the NHA and on the island has been so incredibly welcoming; I already feel at home here. I am so excited to spend the summer exploring the beautiful island and sharing Nantucket’s rich history.

Laura Jurotich ’15 – History and Art History double major


Maeghan LivingstonGreetings to you all once more!

Thank you for taking time to share in my summer experience with Teach for America (TFA). My first week here has been quite eventful! I have become well acquainted with a dedicated staff and several passionate alums of the program who share my heart for education reform. I have also begun to develop relationships with many of the corps members who are participating in TFA’s first regional Institute in Nashville TN.

Maeghan at work

Maeghan at work

One thing that I think has already distinguished this Institute from other centralized and regional TFA institutes is their dedication to rigorously challenging corps members to internalize topics related to race, power and privilege. There are diversity sessions with Dr. Donna Ford, a well-known professional in areas of race and education. In addition there are small group spaces for corps members to debrief these talks and hash out some of their thoughts and feelings towards the content presented. I believe that this methodology has great potential to produce effective teachers because the corps members are being pushed to internalize so much of what they may know on a surface level about how race and education interact The concept of cultural competency resonates with me personally because I have been able to learn much more from teachers who I can connect with; these teachers are able to resonate with my experience as a black female which deepens our relationship and my sometimes receptiveness. I have had a very unique educational experience, seeing as my public high school was predominantly black and my collegiate community is predominantly white. Whether one recognizes it or not, the presentation and curriculum of most of my educational experience was not created with me, a black student from a working middle class family, in mind. I am still a little disappointed that I personally have only had two black professors during my time at Wake Forest. When a teacher walks into a classroom, regardless of their race or ethnicity, students need to be able to trust that the individual in front of them is genuine in their approach and not only there for self -interest with a “savior mentality”.  He or she must also understand the impact and depth that their role will have in the future of their students. In order to accomplish both of these tasks, it is important to understand where the students are coming from and how to best connect with them; also important is the understanding that as a white teacher, their perspective and experience is starkly different from the way that minority students will experience the world.

I chose to write an entire post on this topic because it has been insightful for me to participate in their diversity training sessions. As the corps members are grappling with the information, I am able to support them and challenge them because I have a connection to both worlds, privileged and underprivileged. Surprisingly, I enjoy facilitating these often difficult and emotionally charged conversations. It terms of my professional growth, these interactions have sparked an interest in becoming an educator in areas of diversity. I know this is a mouth full but by no means does it capture all that I am learning and I expect that this is only the tip of the ice berg. Thank you for reading!

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major

TIP: No Syllabus; No Grade

OPCD Expert Contributor – Patrick Sullivan, Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling

One of the biggest challenges about starting your internship is the ambiguity around what you are supposed to do. In college, you pick your courses well in advance, your professors provide a syllabus at the start of class and you know what you need to study to get a good grade on a test. If you are doing well at Wake Forest, you have probably figured out how to make this system work for you.

Your internship might come with a description of your responsibilities, but it doesn’t have a syllabus, there won’t be tests, and you won’t get a grade. How should you figure out what you need to do?

Watch the video highlighting suggestions for receiving feedback during your internship.

To learn more, read further for tips to help you get the feedback you need to succeed.

  • Ask for feedback. Because there isn’t a syllabus or a test in place, take it upon yourself to ask for feedback. Early on, ask for feedback from your peers. “What does the manager expect?”, “Is this the best way to prepare a presentation for the team?” are good questions for your peers. Once you have a basic understanding of your workplace and you have begun producing work that is of value to the organization, ask your manager for feedback. The answers to questions like, “How am I doing on this project?”, “Am I meeting your expectations on this project?”, or “Would you be willing to share your thoughts on what makes an outstanding intern/new hire?” can give you the direction you need to perform well.
  • Schedule informal interactions. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal review process in place (and let’s be honest, many organizations aren’t going to do formal reviews of their interns), make it a point to interact with your peers and your manager outside the workplace. Take someone to lunch and get their feedback. Take your manager out for a cup of coffee and ask for her input.
  • Try the formal approach. Here in the OPCD, we’ve designed an evaluation form designed to help you get the feedback you need. If you want more concrete information about your experience and the skills you developed, ask your supervisor to fill out the evaluation form at the end of your internship. Reflect on the feedback you receive and pursue opportunities to get better. And hey, although the form suggests that you seek input shortly before the end of your internship, it can be used at any time.
  • Act on feedback. This one’s important. If you get feedback from your peers or manager that suggests that you need to change something, you have to make that change. And let people know you are making that change. Telling your manager, “That idea you suggested? I tried it and you were right – it makes me much more efficient” is a great way to show that you are open to constructive criticism and able to grow personally and professionally.

So while there aren’t going to be tests or grades like you’ve had in college, you CAN still get feedback by purposefully interacting with your colleagues. What’s the result? The feedback you get will give you a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses. You can seek out training to develop skills that need improvement. You can build on your strengths to become a critical part of the team.

Just as important, though, is that you are developing relationships with colleagues that will be able to help you in the future. They can offer advice, feedback, and suggestions when you are ready to take your next step and they can be your biggest supporters as you get your full-time career started. Who knows – if things go well, they might be the people that you get your career started with!

TIP: The World of Work: Understanding Company Culture

You’ve landed the internship, set a budget, and created 2-3 SMART goals. Soon, you’ll be entering the world of work. The world of work has a different culture than your college campus. How do you navigate the world of work and understand its culture?

Here is what a few of our employers say:


CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Observe others’ behaviors, talk to supervisors and peers what the cultural norms are, and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense. It is better to ask a trusted source about culture than accidentally make a mistake or wrong impression!


Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

The best way to understand our company culture is by looking to our experienced employees. This is particularly important as company culture varies greatly among our clients and the engagement teams assigned to those clients. As a rule of thumb, always try to emulate the dress and conduct of the senior professionals on your engagement teams. Follow their discretion and let them lead by example when it comes to the appropriate level of conservatism within a specific environment. All of our experienced employees are here as a resource for interns and new hires, so if you ever question whether or not certain actions are suitable, just ask.



Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

Culture is essentially how things are done in your company.  In my experience, most companies don’t have a single culture.  Large organizations like mine have guiding principles which are evident in every office and factory around the world, but each work group faces unique pressures and is comprised of unique personalities, which will influence the local culture. 

If you want to know what behaviors are valued in your company, consider how your manager and teammates conduct themselves, and the competencies or values that are assessed during your performance reviews.  Listen for themes within leadership messages, employee meetings and orientation materials to gain insight. 

Many different types of cultures can be successful, but not every culture will be the right fit for you.  Internships are an excellent opportunity to assess a company and find out if your values and priorities align.  Make the most of this opportunity by asking questions and exploring different teams and departments to find the best fit.

TIP: Preparing for the First Day

You’ve heard the expression; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Why is that?  The first impression is a lasting impression.  It is vital to make a great first impression; especially as a young professional.  It could mean the difference between receiving lucrative assignments versus menial projects.  You want to be prepared for the first day of your professional experience.

Watch the video highlighting these key questions:  What do I wear?;  What do I bring?; and What can I expect?

To learn more, read further for details on preparing for your first day on the job.

1)      What do I wear?  Business-appropriate dress.  What does this mean?  Well, each industry has dress standards depending upon its culture.  For example, business formal is required for the finance industry, but not necessarily for the art industry.  Sometimes, dress can vary from department to department within an organization depending upon its function.  I recommend you call the office where you will be working to ask about dress standards for employees. If you go in for an in-person interview, pay attention to what people in the office are wearing. And when in doubt, always error on the side of conservative.

2)      What do I bring?  A padfolio and pen.  Keep track of everyone you meet.  They will be impressed you remembered their name and a personal fact about them when you see them again.  Also, write down instructions to assignments, projects, and deadlines.  This will ensure that you are meeting expectations, right from the start, and will also help you to track your assignments and projects as you do them.  Keeping a record of your experiences will be extremely helpful when you are updating your resume and preparing for future interviews.  Also, bring important documents necessary to complete human resources paperwork such as tax information (you will need two forms of identification), insurance, and direct deposit information.

3)      What can I expect?  Typically, your first day will be filled with tours, introductions, completing paperwork, and a meeting with your supervisor.  Remember, when you are introduced to someone, address each person using his/her surname or last name unless that person tells you to use his/her first name.  Always address your superiors by their last names.  Take cues on how to act in the office from your supervisor.  All eyes will be on you…you are the young professional.  They are expecting you to make a mistake.  Surprise them – act as if this is not your first job.  Meeting with your supervisor is the perfect opportunity to ask questions for clarity about your duties, culture, and expectations.

Make a positive lasting impression on your first day!

TIP: Set SMART Goals to Chart your Course

Before you embark on your internship experience, you should set some SMART goals for specific knowledge, skills, and abilities you would like to acquire during the experience. Start with the end in mind…You need to know where you want to go before you can start the journey.  Setting goals helps you stay focused on what you want to accomplish.  What are SMART goals?

Specific – Spell out exactly what you want to accomplish.

Measurable – Helps you determine if you achieved it or not.  Quantify it.

Achievable – Set possible and attainable objectives.

Relevant – Set goals with the “big picture” in mind and have a clear purpose.

Timely – Set a deadline.  When do you want to accomplish the goal?

Here are a few questions to consider before developing your SMART goals:  What do you want to accomplish by the completion of your internship?  When you look back at the end of the summer, what do you want to be able to say that you have done or learned?  Are there new skills you would like to develop, such as giving public presentations or business writing? Is there something about this particular industry that you would like to know?

Before you start your internship, consider creating 2-3 SMART goals.  Focus on three key areas such as networking – the people you want to meet, skills – the skills you want to develop, and community – how you will get involved in the community where you will be living (such as through a service opportunity).  Involvement in the community is a great way to expand reach for meeting individuals outside of your inner-circle.  Most importantly, you’re continuing the spirit of Pro Humanitate.

Before you leave for your internship, get started using this easy worksheet.  Set the path you want to accomplish by charting your own course with SMART goals.  And, when you meet with your supervisor share these goals with him/her so that he can help you to develop a plan for achieving them.

TIP: Budgeting for Your Internship

Now that you landed the internship…You may be asking – How am I going to pay for it?  While some internships are paid (lucky you), others are not.  Even if you are getting paid a salary or a stipend, the cash flow is limited.  Think in terms of college – room and board.  Room – Where am I going to sleep at night?  Board – How am I going to provide for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  These are the essentials – a roof over your head and a meal or three.  So, it may be time to kick the Starbucks habit.

Whether living at home or on your own, a budget will help you stay on track.  First, you need to know your monthly net income (amount received after taxes), scholarship or stipend amount.  Second, think about your expected monthly expenses.  For example, rent…This is a fixed expense; it doesn’t vary from month to month.  Some expenses fluctuate, like groceries. Third, research areas where you can spend less such as having a roommate to share the cost of rent, and taking your lunch to work as opposed to eating out.  Buying lunch everyday can quickly add up.

In preparation for your internship, create a spending plan and set a budget.  Register to use CashCourse as your resource for learning spending tips and your tool for implementing budget strategies for your summer internship and beyond.  For example, use the budget wizard tool or the worksheet to track your expenses.  Plan the work and work the plan.

Wouldn’t it be great to return to Wake Forest with extra cash in your pocket?!?

Diary of an Intern – Introducing our Student Contributors

Welcome to our Diary of an Intern’s student contributors! Our Diary of an Intern series will feature student interns sharing their internship experiences this summer. They will be working and developing skills in a variety of industries. Follow them on their journey of discovering the world of work, skill development, and the lessons learned in the process.

My name is Charles Thomas and I’m from Connecticut.  As a Politics and International Affairs major, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern with the Royal Geographical Society’s Hong Kong branch this summer.  First established in the United Kingdom, The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) is considered the largest scholarly geographical society in the world, with a mission to enhance a shared understanding of our interdependent world.  I do not yet know specifically what I will be doing, but I have great enthusiasm for out-of-the-box problem solving and I enjoy exposure to new situations.  Through my opportunity with RGS, I am excited to further explore my academic/career interests and to immerse myself in the culture of Hong Kong.  I look forward to sharing my experiences on this blog as I endeavor to broaden my global perspective both on and off the job.

Charles Thomas ’16 –Politics and International Affairs major, Communication and Entrepreneurship double minor


Hello all! My name is Maeghan Livingston and I am a rising senior at Wake Forest University. My love for people and my desire to become a positive catalyst for change in the world has driven my academic interest in Sociology as a major; these desires have also influenced my career interest in the education sector.

As a native of a rural and impoverished small town in North Carolina, I have had the wonderful  opportunity to attend one of the top universities in the country. This experience has equipped me with opportunities, skills, and perspectives that I would otherwise not have had access to. As a result, I know that I will achieve a certain level of success as a professional woman of color that many of my peers from my hometown will not. Economic strife has hindered many of my friends from more than the achievement of their goals, but even the sheer pursuit of them. For this reason, I have become dedicated to equipping all students, especially those in areas like mine, with the resources and education necessary to make their dreams realities.

Teach for America is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a quality education to students living in impoverished areas, similar to my own. All corps members attend a Summer Institute where they will undergo intensive training to prepare them for success in the classroom. I am excited to be working as an Operations Coordinator at a Teach for America Summer Institute.  I will be located at the regional institute for the Greater Nashville Area in Tennessee and working specifically with Residential operations.

What do I hope to gain from this amazing summer with Teach for America? Thanks for asking! My first goal is to continue to develop as a professional; this entails nurturing habits which are essential to becoming an effective and quality professional. An example of this practice is working in a timely manner and always submitting my best quality work. Setting and meeting expectations with my team is also a part of this vision. In my role, I also desire to develop meaningful relationships with my team, fellow staff and corps members. Relationship building is an integral component of any great experience and really helps shape a successful work environment.

I look forward to sharing the challenges and successes I experience during my time with Teach for America in Nashville this summer. I am really excited to blend my passion for service with an opportunity to develop personally and professionally. My hope is that you are encouraged to pursue your passions by my experience, and gain advice which will help further your own professional development.

Cheers to a great summer!

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major


My name is Laura Jurotich, and I am a rising senior from Birmingham, Alabama. I am a double major in History and Art History. I am interning this summer in the Public Programs department at the Nantucket Historical Association in Nantucket, Massachusetts. This will be my third internship, as I have spent the previous two summers in the Communication and Public Relations department at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama and in the Marketing and Public Relations department at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, respectively. These internship experiences solidified my potential career path in the museum field and have made me eager for museum experience outside the art world. I am surrounded by Civil War and Civil Rights history in the South, but I have not gotten to see many early 18th and 17th century American towns. Thus, I am so excited to spend the summer exploring and learning about one of America’s most historic and treasured early settlements. I have never lived outside of the Southeast, so living on a tiny island (less than 50 square miles) 30 miles from the mainland in the Northeast will be a big change, but it is one that I am ready for. I will head up to the island on May 30th, settle in over the weekend to the historical home where the other NHA interns and I will be living, and begin a week of orientation on June 2nd. I am excited to share my experiences with you all!

Laura Jurotich ’15 – History and Art History double major


TIP: Landed the Internship! Now What?

You have been on the interview. You received and accepted the offer. You are excited to start your internship. But wait, you are going to be a professional now. You have so many questions about how to move from being a student to a professional. We have employer guest contributors answering some of your questions. You may want to think about how you want to make a favorable impression this summer.

Watch this video highlighting what Wake Forest employers say you should do to make a favorable impression during your internship.

To learn more, read further for details on making a favorable impression.


CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

The surest way to quickly establish credibility and a strong reputation at our company and within our department is to illustrate both relationship development and critical thinking skills. While showing an interest in learning the business and organization is the primary focus when first getting started, it is also critically important to be responsive, thoughtful, and engaged. Ask questions, meet with people, take ownership and show initiative. Challenging appropriately and solving problems with recommendations supported by facts leave an indelible mark. The basic, underlying ability to analyze information, think both tactically and strategically, and identify opportunities for improvement are characteristics that are difficult to teach yet make a significant difference.


Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

Deloitte hires people with the intellect, attention to detail, technical skills and intuitive power required by this profession but what really makes an intern or new hire stand out among their peers is their attitude and professionalism. The individuals who come into Deloitte ready to tackle, and value the experience, of any task, no matter how menial or trivial it may seem, are the ones who truly impress our leaders. Displaying a positive, accommodating demeanor and attitude at all times is powerful and definitely does not go unnoticed.


Red Ventures

Jessica Hensen, Recruiter

Successful interns have a strong intellectual curiosity and strive to gain a deep understanding of our business and culture. They have a can-do attitude and are always willing to try new things. Stand out interns don’t just wait for new projects and opportunities to be given to them, but rather they seek out new opportunities on their own. Interns can bring a fresh perspective to business challenges, so they should feel comfortable giving their opinion and speaking up in meetings. Confidence is an important attribute to have as an intern. If there is an area of the company that you’re interested in, schedule time to speak with someone in that area to learn more.


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Barbara Carter, Director of Talent Acquisition

The most important thing an intern or a new employee can do to stand out is to be “present” in the organization. This means being on time for the job (better to be early) – this is a given. Showing up late for work gives the perception that you really are not interested in the position. Also being present by being engaged in the learning process by being attentive, asking questions and offering your ideas. Often interns spend more time trying to “network” to get the full-time job offer rather than concentrating on doing the job at hand. If you do a good job and add value during your summer internship you are more likely to get the full time job offer.



Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

The best career advice I have received is to under-commit and over-deliver.  This careful balance is sometimes called a Say:Do Ratio, but it really means keep your promises.  In a busy workplace it is easy to sit in meetings and take on action items (“Sure, I’ll take care of that!”), it is much harder to get all of those things done.  I have too often seen enthusiastic new employees, who are eager to impress their managers, take on tasks they don’t have time for or offer up deadlines that are too aggressive.  During your internship you will need to set realistic objectives, but also stretch yourself and demonstrate your engagement and ability to be a team-player.

Here are some tactics to help you keep the right balance:

Ask clarifying questions up front.

  • What will a successful finished product look like?
  • When do you need this?
  • Do you want to review a draft at that time, or a final product?
  • Is there anyone I can speak with if I have questions?

Understand your workload.

  • Keep a running list of your assigned tasks and include status and estimated time to complete. 
  • Talk with your manager or other stakeholders about priorities; don’t assume you know which items are the most critical. 
  • If taking on a new task may interfere with other deliverables, raise the concern. (“This new Project B looks like it will take a lot of time, is it ok if I don’t get Project A to you until next week?”)   


  • If you are running behind, let someone know.  Not delivering on a deadline is usually much worse than setting a more reasonable schedule in the first place.
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.  Don’t get bogged down in trying to solve an unfamiliar problem by yourself, it is better to ask for five minutes of help than spend hours working an issue by yourself.

Above all else, remember that your job is to learn.  Take on assignments that will help your team and grow your experience, and try to learn from every mistake and challenge.

TIPS (The Intern Professional Series) Starts on 5/23

Join us for TIPS – The Internship Professional Series this summer. The internship series will provide tips and advice from experts in the Office of Personal and Career Development, employers, and current student interns for success before, during, and after the internship.  Also, the series will help prepare you for the internship, and develop your professional self and the skills most sought-after for life after college.

Real World Reality Bites

Entering the “real world” can be scary and exciting. To ease some of the anxiety, the OPCD’s WFU alums share their advice for leaving the familiarity of college and starting this thing called life after college.

Here are their bites of reality:

Allison McWilliamsAllison McWilliams (’95, English and Spanish), Ph.D., Director, Mentoring Resource Center and Alumni Personal and Professional Development 

Don’t worry so much about where you will be in 20 years, be focused on where you will be next year. Take ownership for your life and your choices. Lots of people will have opinions on what you should or should not do, but no one else can live your life but you, and you can’t live anyone else’s life but your own. Most of all, have fun!


Lauren Beam (’07, Communication and Religion), Assistant Director, Mentoring Resource Center and Alumni Personal and Professional Development

Be intentional and take the initiative in making new friendships and meeting new people, wherever you may be living after graduation. I quickly learned that the ease of making friends at Wake Forest, due to structured activities and being around people similar to myself, was not the real world! Look for opportunities to be social, even with people that at first glance may not seem like people that you’d be close friends with. One of my best friends in graduate school was 15 years older than me, from Massachusetts (I’m a southern girl), and a former librarian. You’ll be surprised who you might connect with and make life-long friendships with outside of college.


 Patrick SullivanPatrick Sullivan (‘93, Politics), Associate Director, Career Education and Counseling

You DO NOT have to be an expert right away.  In my first real job, it felt like I was expected to have all of the information I needed at my fingertips.  What I came to appreciate is that I didn’t have to have all of the information at my fingertips.  I DID, however, have to be willing to go get that information.


Matthew Williams's profile photoMatt Williams (’09, Communication), Associate Director, Marketing and Communication 

Buy an iron. Im(press)ions are everything. The first one, the last one, and all the ones in between. For many, your external appearance often is a representation of how you approach your work. If you’re wrinkled from head to toe, one might assume you’re disorganized and disheveled. Walk in nicely pressed and confident; however, and people will immediately view you as a respected professional. Buying an iron seems like a small thing, but it has a HUGE impact on your professional reputation. 


Tiffany WaddellTiffany Waddell (’07, Theatre and Psychology), Assistant Director, Career Education and Counseling

You do belong, you deserve to be [here], and you deserve the good things that come your way.  Own your excellence and learn as much as you can, wherever you go!



Caleigh McElweeCaleigh McElwee (’02, Psychology) – Associate Director, Undergraduate Market Readiness & Employment

Jump in! You are responsible for your immediate future but don’t need to figure out the rest of your life. Consider the next two years as you make plans. 

Jump in! Talent matters but so does persistence. Many opportunities go to those who volunteer and put themselves forward, not just to those who are best prepared. 

Jump in! “It’s easier to tame a wild horse than it is to move a dead horse.” 

Then pay attention to the work you enjoy most. Figure out how to do more of it on your own time — Skills are developed with practice. Then, gradually, ultimately, make the move to make it your full-time gig and get paid to do more of what interests you most. 


Ben Magee (’13, Health & Exercise Science) – Presidential Fellow for the OPCD

Going into the workplace is a lot like that scene from the film, The Mighty Ducks, where Goldberg, the goalie, is forced to face his fears of being hit by the hockey puck. He realizes that his greatest fear actually turned out not to be so bad once he was forced to experience it. That’s how I wish I had approached more of the fears I had about the workplace – rather than stressing over them, just take steps to face whatever you are nervous about and you’ll probably see it’s not so bad. Like Goldberg, you might realize you’re actually talented in some of those areas. 


DeeDe Pinckney (’09, Communication), Assistant Director Marketing and Communication

The term”work/life balance” isn’t reserved solely for individuals with families or small children. Carving out time to pursue passions outside of your 9-5 is crucial to your overall health and happiness. Staying physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally fit requires taking a 360 degree approach to life and avoiding the pitfalls of focusing all of your energy on a singular task.