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Tips for Following Your Passion

Dorianna Valerio

The three panelists who spoke at the lecture hosted by LIU Post’s Women’s Institute provided three essential tips to succeed: Invest in yourself, become a lifelong learner and respect the power of the dollar.

The lecture, entitled “Follow Your Passion: Reinvent Yourself and Your Identity,” was held in the Winnick House’s Great Hall on February 15th.  The setting was intimate: dim lighting, a few rows of chairs and the three speakers sitting close to the audience. No podiums. No microphones.

The invited guests, Karen McKenna, a career counselor, Rona Wexler, a vocational evaluator and employability expert, and Arlene Haims, a financial expert, detailed their tips for success.

The first tip they outlined is to invest time and energy into yourself.  In order to do this, McKenna stressed the importance of dedicating time towards figuring out what motivates you. Find out what it is that you want to do. If you’re having difficulty with this, take an assessment test. Assessment tests take into consideration your passions and interests and can set you in the right direction, she explained. Students can take assessment tests online or in the Career Services Office.

After figuring out what you want to do, invest time and money into it, McKenna continued. This may mean spending a little more money to take an extra class in what you want to do or saving up to take an extra course in the summer. “If you make all those investments, the time and the energy and the money, the result is a life well lived,” McKenna said of her tips.

Following that, Wexler advised the audience to become lifelong learners. “Becoming a lifelong learner means you take risks into learning things that aren’t in your comfort zone,” she said. However, Wexler’s message was more about how to be productive in searching for a career.

Wexler’s career tips include interning, networking and volunteering. “I advise people who are very experienced, as well as less experienced, to do volunteer work and find ways to make yourself visible.” To do this, Wexler recommends making suggestions and assisting team members anytime possible.

The final tip was to respect the power of money. This, according to Haims, is the method to achieving financial security.  Haims stressed the importance of paying yourself first, which means saving a portion of your money every month and committing to that savings plan.

Haims also advised paying your bills on time. Set up one day every month to pay your bills, she said. One of her tips really resonated with the student audience. When it came to the topic of deferment, she advised students against it. “I’m telling you to think two, three, four times before you do that, and the reason is that when you defer college loans, there’s still interest due, and you’re going to be paying interest on top of interest,” Haims added.

The power of money goes beyond affording material things, Haims said.  “It can buy you an opportunity; it can buy you time, so my suggestion is save your money and really think twice about what you’re doing.” She tied this up with an anecdote about knowing people who take on jobs solely because they need money. However, if you respect the power of money, according to Haims, you can afford to pursue the careers you want.

Another tip from the three panelists was to take advantage of all resources. “The alumni association at school is always a wonderful resource,” according to McKenna. Alums can put you in touch with people they know.

Another tip is to test out informational interviews. “It’s a very tried and true strategy. When you go on an informational interview, you are not looking for a job. So, ask good, intelligent questions,” Wexler said.

Finally, pay your credit cards on time. Poor credit history can influence an employer’s decision in hiring you, Haims said.

When the lecture concluded, students shared their views on the event. “I really enjoyed it,” junior Social Work major Audrey Thompson said of the lecture. She added, “It was very educational.”

Senior English Major Elizabeth Freeman also thought it was educational, adding, “I feel like I learned a lot about myself and what I need to do to work on my strengths and weaknesses.”

The LIU Post’s Women’s Institute hosts lectures, forums, workshops and seminars on issues affecting women. On April 18th, the institute will present speaker Virginia Russell, who will address the topic of “Pay Equity.”

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