Now that we’re almost finished with our first year of the program, I figured I’d pass along a few nuggets that I’ve picked up along the way. Keep in mind, I have not mastered all of these things, but I am still striving. With no further ado, I present “Drew’s Guide to Success for Future Classes”.
1. Load up on business casual/business professional attire.
We wear business casual to class every day and business professional whenever we have speakers, which is quite often. It caught me off guard when I first found out, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. There’s nothing like making heads turn when you’re walking around campus like you’re on your way to a board meeting. Ladies, keep it classy. Gentlemen, if you don’t know how to tie a tie, come see me immediately upon your arrival so I can laugh at you. I’m kidding. In all seriousness, any of the guys in my class would be happy to teach you.
2. Take advantage of the opportunities you will have to work with kids through community service.
We all volunteer at various places in the Orlando community, and it’s a very rewarding experience. The kids really do look up to you and look forward to seeing you every weekend. What’s better than tutoring kids and playing dodgeball and kickball? Nostalgia is a beautiful thing.
3. Find your escape.
DeVos has a way of taking over your life if you let it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I advise you to find an escape. Maybe you like reading books (that aren’t assigned), running, working out, going to concerts, or playing sports. Find something that takes your mind off the daily rigors of the program. I’m always amused when I learn some of the things my classmates use as escapes.
4. Learn how to work on a team.
I can’t overemphasize this. Your classmates are your teammates. Since you are part of a cohort, you are basically part of an army. Not everyone will be good at Finance or Accounting, but you may be. On the other hand, you may not be a good writer. The beauty of it is that you will be part of a team, and that is a powerful thing. Embrace it. There’s no need to try and be a superstar. We don’t hand out MVP awards.
5. Manage you time wisely.
I always thought I was pretty good at managing my time, but now I feel like I’m an expert at it. There are so many things that you will have to stay on top of as a DeVos student, but you will be better for it. Between classes, graduate assistantships (for those fortunate enough to get them), community service, work, your social life, and whatever else you deem important, you will quickly have to prioritize.
6. Find something outside of DeVos that helps develop your career.
My classmates have internships, blog for sports sites, and write articles for sports encyclopedias. Some of my other classmates work for the Orlando Magic or the Annika Foundation. Those are just a few examples. We’re all trying to better ourselves and take advantage of the golden opportunity that we’ve been given.
7. Be selective about how you spend your time.
You will find that there are about a million things you will be able to do while you are in the program. There will be countless opportunities for you to better yourself personally and professionally. However, you don’t need participate in all of them. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Take on what you can and make sure you do them well before you try to add anything else.
8. Don’t forget where you come from and those who helped you get to where you are.
It is so easy to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished, but none of us got where we are alone. Personally, I wouldn’t be here without my family, friends, and mentors. I realize I couldn’t have gotten this far in life without them. I also realize that I represent my family and those back home who have sacrificed or invested in me. The responsibility to make them proud is something that drives me every day.
9. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, buckle up.
There are so many times that we have to stand before people and introduce ourselves, do a presentation, or speak on a topic. It can be nerve-racking and uncomfortable, but eventually, you will get used to it.
10. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re here.
This is a great program and you will certainly learn a lot in the classroom. However, it is important to get out and enjoy the state of Florida and city of Orlando. It is beautiful here. The amusements parks are great and the weather is wonderful. In my short time here, I have been able to do and experience things I never thought I would. I’ve seen a space shuttle launch, gone to DisneyWorld, gone to Universal Studios, played mud volleyball, eaten things I’d never heard of, taken a tour of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, gone to Miami, and gone to a Florida game at “The Swamp”. In a few weeks, a few of my classmates are going to Puerto Rico. Enjoy the ride. You will experience so many great things, and it will all be over before you know it. I implore you to open your minds, broaden your horizons, and embrace the diversity of your classmates.
I think that covers everything. Well, that covers almost everything. There are some things that I will leave to you’ll to learn for yourself, but if you let these 10 nuggets guide you, you will be great.
Andrew “Drew” Lilly