If I could do it all over again…

ReflectingThis year marked my eighteenth year with OSU Extension and 28 years overall in public service. It seems like just yesterday that I started my public administration career as a 21-year-old administrative assistant. Now that I am considered one of the ‘more-seasoned’ professionals with the organization, I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of Extension colleagues. Reflecting on what I wish I’d have known when first starting out, for the benefit of our newer hires I have developed and shared a number of items, some of which are listed below.

  1. Don’t overcommit. Our calendars can fill up quickly.  I caution you to be comfortable first with your chosen expertise and the amount of time you have dedicated to it before you decide to take on additional responsibilities.
  2. Find an encouraging mentor. It is important to be able to share your concerns with someone you can trust. A positive mentor can help with your focus and provide a sounding board when you are in need of a listening ear.
  3. Get to know your co-workers. It goes without saying that you can very easily spend more time with your co-workers than your family. It is important to get to know them personally and to be able to share success stories with them.
  4. Celebrate an achievement. It is okay to celebrate after completing a project. In Extension, we often go on to the next project without stopping for a moment to enjoy what we just completed.
  5. Understand your career goal. We all can get caught up in the day-to-day work style and before you know it, a year is almost over. Take time to think about your career goals and create plans to achieve them.
  6. Before moving on to another project or class to teach, take a few minutes every day to reflect on what you are doing and what you want to do going forward. Think about how these tasks and activities advance your career plans.
  7. Have fun, learn to laugh, and improvise when needed. One time I thought I sent my PowerPoint slides to the moderator for a presentation at an international conference but evidently forgot. Instead of panicking in front of 50 people, I took a deep breath and rolled with it. Thinking that the presentation was terrible, many in the audience came up to me after and thanked me for not having a PowerPoint as they were tired of seeing them and welcomed the change.
  8. Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes we can get too comfortable where we are. If you begin to feel that is happening to you, look for ways to step out beyond your comfort zone. When your work no longer inspires at work, it is time to expand your horizons.
  9. Join a professional organization and become an active member. I learned a long time ago that professional organizations can be a great place to meet fellow professionals and allow you time to learn from others. Attend and present at the conferences. Serve in leadership roles.
  10. Lead the way. In any situation, a leader is very important. If you have ever found yourself in a situation where no one is leading, guess what? It is time for you to step-up. As they say, sometimes the first step is often the hardest.

I have others that I could easily share, but I will stop at 10 and wait to hear from you. Take a minute and in the comment section below, add your best advice to the list.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo is an associate professor and field specialist, community economics, OSU Extension CD.

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