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  • Writer's pictureJesse Schmitt, Grand Valley State University

Investing in YOU!

A few months ago, I was invited to join the National Millennial and Gen Z Community on their trip to San Francisco, California. My peers and I had conversations with local businesses curious about how to reach Millennials and Gen Z more effectively. We also got the chance to network with executives, educators, and fellow students from all over the U.S. with different cultural backgrounds. I thought to myself; this is an incredible opportunity for someone approaching post-grad life.

Initially, I did not think that going on this trip would be possible for me. I was stretched thin; multi-tasking an internship, taking a full load of college classes, helping run a student-run integrated communications firm, serving on the board for our PRSSA chapter, and preparing to compete in a national advertising competition.

Though I knew all these responsibilities enhanced my education, I felt I had not sought out opportunities to invest purely in myself. I wanted to expand outside of my university and lay the foundation for a more global network.

After much deliberation, I decided to attend the trip. I was excited to experience a new city and help represent NMGZ and the great work the community has done. I also hoped that the connections I might make would help guide and reveal my next career move.

I was nervous about pausing my responsibilities and asking my colleagues for assistance in my absence. I had thought that I would be faced with resentment if I told them what I was doing. I felt bad for taking an opportunity I knew would be so impactful because I was afraid others might think I lacked responsibility in my current work.

I was surprised that I was instead met with overwhelming support. My coworkers, mentors, family, and peers expressed excitement about the opportunity and how it would help me grow in the ways they knew I had wanted.

After going on the trip, my mindset around my professional life has shifted.

Yes, it is crucial to stay responsible and diligent in your current work and understand that you have teams that rely on you. However, it is just as essential to check in with yourself continuously, make sure that you align where you want to be in your life and career, and seek out opportunities that will help you grow in ways to get you there. Whether through continued education, professional organizations, hobbies, or volunteer work, you should prioritize your time to meet specific goals.

Ultimately, dedicating your time to prioritizing yourself enables you to gain new perspectives and knowledge that will help improve your work for your entire team, your school, and professional life.

This trip helped me reset and reminded me of my passion for my career. Today, I feel refreshed and invigorated to push forward and continue my work toward my future. How about you?


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