October 12, 2011 Leave a comment
My alarm rings. It’s 5:50am, or so the red glare from my clock across the room brightly pronounces. Quickly turning off the annoying alarm, I lie back in bed and for a few minutes listen to the sound of rain outside my window. In some weird rhythmic fashion that only the rain hitting the roof of my 1940’s house could create I’m eased awake. Walking to the kitchen I’m greeted by the warming smell of coffee brewing. A consequential desire to grab that first cup of the day overwhelms me. The first sip is a reminder of the fact that I am in Seattle, and maybe more importantly, up. By the second sip I am reminded that something is entirely different about today. The rain is a new addition, yes -it was 80 degrees and sunny out yesterday after all- but then again I do live in Seattle. I believe the books piled next to my backpack were the root cause of this unrest. It’s not the fact that I had to sell the rights to my first-born in order to buy this quarter’s books, nor is it that today is my first day back at SPU; it’s that this is my last ‘first day’ at SPU. I pause and think, “A Senior? Where did all that time go?”
As I take a shower and get ready for work downtown, I slip into a nostalgic state. Thinking back to autumn of my freshman and sophomore years I start to see flashes of still vivid memories. Moving into the dorms and meeting so many people that I hardly could remember my own roommate’s name. The endless hours my floor and I spent practicing (or lack thereof) for our campus FUSION skit. Making friends learn the hard way that “Roomies” is something you never go on. Sleepily standing in the Gwinn line on a Sunday morning, just waiting for that second delicious artery-filling omelet, and, in all truth, the value of a good night’s sleep.
Accordingly, as I suit-up for my internship, I remember that a year ago today I was studying in China. The humidity, the thick smoggy air, and the lack of Mexican/Italian food; all things I definitely don’t miss about my stay there. However, the chance to explore the world and be apart from the comfortable life I grew so accustomed to here in Seattle is something I definitely do miss. There has been nothing more important in my undergraduate experience, and personal development thus far that even scratches the surface of what studying abroad for those 3 months did for me.
Looking at myself in the mirror tightening my tie, I recall being inducted as an official student of the SBE at the New Majors Dessert. Looking sharper than I usually do (or at least I like to think so) a part of Dean Van Duzer’s speech pops back into my head, “I want you to be the secret agents of the business world…” “Why would I think of that?” I guess I’m suited up like I imagine a secret agent would be, but really what does that message mean to me, and why does it matter today? In the background of my thoughts I hear the distinct sound of the toaster; I pause to munch on the warm buttered toast. I’m quickly drawn back as I read the motto written on my oh-so-semi-formal SBE shirt lying on the couch. It reads, “Another Way of Doing Business.” It’s the meaning behind this motto that makes necessary the Dean’s stated “secret agent” approach to future careers in business.
As I recollect on this motto, I am reminded that at the end of my interview process with Northwestern Mutual, the recruiter and directors one by one contacted me to evaluate my presentation and inform of their decision on my employment. Their unanimous decision was a motivating yes; for they each congratulated me not only on my presenting skills, business etiquette/dress, but “because your energy is contagious, you have a drive and ethical professionalism about you that is rare among students.” The key word here is obviously “ethical professionalism,” something that a large, influential, Fortune 500 company like Northwestern Mutual, desires in its employees. You reading this may be wondering, “Well why does this ethical professionalism matter so much today?” As I’m sure you know, us recent and soon to be graduates will enter the work-force in an uncertain period of history. With such nation-wide unemployment statistics hovering around 9-10%, some of the questions floating in my head include, “Will I be qualified, or experienced enough for my potential employers? Or more importantly, will there be job opportunities for me out of school?” Personally reassured by my knowledge and proven “ethical professionalism,” I feel more at ease. If it really is this professionalism in students that successful companies like Northwestern Mutual are looking for in their employees, then my fellow SBE graduates and I are beneficially set apart. For our ingrained ethical outlook to work sets us apart from our peers graduating elsewhere.
My abilities as a successful presenter, intern, and possible employee are directly correlated to the principles I embraced and was taught by the SBE faculty and staff. But more importantly, my perspective and approach to work and the business world has been shaped. Ethics has become an essential part of not only my perspective, but it is the reason behind my success in developing myself into a more advantageous and qualified suspect to future employers. More importantly though, it has been rooted in my viewpoint on how the world needs to transform, and how businesses should be run.
As I head back into the kitchen and pour my next cup of coffee I recollect on all these vivid memories, signs of autumn, and the start of another school year. I find myself asking “Am I ready for this year?” The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it differs from years past. I pause in my routine to check my phone, which glowing green, tells me 6:35am, triggering my mental “go-time” approach to the day. In truth, I figure that’s also the perspective I’m taking on life this autumn. I’m no longer focusing on the triviality of dorm life, or on the grades I’ll receive, or on the roomies dates I purposefully won’t go on; but to the future, to what I have yet to learn, and what life in this recession, in this debt-afflicted economy, in this jobless crazed world I’m soon about to enter will be like.