When the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech recently assessed its freshmen class to determine what motivated new students to acquire academic credentials and professional skills, the research showed they were attending college to pursue a lifestyle.
For this reason, the entrepreneurship skill set development center chose to focus on “Having it All: Does Work-Life Balance Really Work?” as it collaborated with the university’s career services and college of business on their first Insider Scoop panel discussion, which they plan to present on an annual basis.
The center wants “to build up a capacity for value creators that goes beyond simply, ‘Did you make a business? Did you create jobs? Did you get your venture capital?’” Trent Grabill, its executive director, said at the Nov. 15 event at Andorfer Commons. “We care about the ability of our students to find value and then to balance it with the things that they care about, whether it be lifestyle, whether it be economic impact, or whether it be environmental impact.”
Panelists who have built successful careers while giving back to the community told the students they can find joy and satisfaction in their careers and in their lives outside of work by focusing on what matters the most to them, even if maintaining that balance sometimes precludes “having it all.”
Panelists fielded questions on everything from how they dealt with pressure and how they learned to love their work, to how they found a mentor and how they discovered their career-driving passion.
The question they addressed that went to the heart of the matter the most effectively asked what trade-offs they had made in order to have the kind of lifestyle they wanted as well as the kind of career that made them look forward to going to work every day.
Here’s what they said:
John Minnich, chief business and financial officer for Concordia Lutheran High School: “For me, I talk a lot about finding your passion — what makes you tick when you wake up in the morning. Once you find that — once you unlock that magic — you have opportunities to do amazing things, whether it’s serving in the community or in the organization that you’re working with.
“So, I think once you find that sweet spot, for me it all blends together and it hasn’t so much been about tradeoffs; it’s been more about what have I been able to do and give back to the community? Because, as you go through your career, you have an opportunity to give back.
“So, the tradeoff for me is, if I’m investing time in the community, I may not have that time in my home with my wife, but I’m very blessed that she can join me in a lot of those activities.”
Jill Hart, divisions marketing lead for MedPro: “I think for me it’s been a little bit less a perspective of sacrifice and more about patience. I’m a big believer that you’re going to have some bad days, but if you have a lot of bad days, you need to make a change.
“If you’re having a lot of bad days, the chance that you’re on the right path — you might want to re-evaluate that. It shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice if you’re pursuing something that you’re really driven for.
“But, to the patience aspect of things, you’ve got to put the work in. It’s not going to happen the first day on the job, it’s going to take time.
“So, the hard work aspect, it just has to be part of what you’re doing and it’s hard to do that if you do not believe in what you’re going toward. So, I would say sacrifice — not really — but you can definitely look back and say the patience was worthwhile.”
Grace Dusseau, human resources generalist at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co.: “To go along with that, I think the tradeoffs are things that I didn’t realize were not really worth it until I gave them up, like Netflix or Hulu or watching TV in general, those small things that I realized I was wasting so much time with.
“Instead, I started reading. I started studying, and I got my masters from Indiana Tech in a year. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t buckle down and do the hard work and give up things that I thought, ‘Oh, this really matters to me,’ until I now look back a year later and, OK, those shows are still there; that music is still there; that person is still going to be performing in a year.
“But, the tradeoffs that I told myself that I would not make — and I’m glad I didn’t — were friendships and time to myself. So, I made sure that I took care of myself and made sure that I still invested in the community during those times.
“And because of that, those are the things that still matter to me more now than things that I realized I was wasting my time on.”
Greg Clark, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Sweetwater Sound: “I don’t really have any hobbies; hobbies take time.
“I grew up playing golf. I loved golf. Through high school and college. I spent so much time in college and I didn’t have money for golf, I’d just go putt. I’d buy a bucket of balls and it would take up two hours and I’d have fun and that was kind of a hobby and I had a couple of other things. But once I started working, in the list of priorities, that got squeezed.
“But that goes with what Jill was saying — there’s patience; I know there’s a day when I’ll get back to golf. Right now, my free time is going to be spent with fifth- and seventh-grade girls basketball games and practices and I did coach at one point one of my daughters, and going to games on the weekend, their games, and so that’s where I’m investing my time.
“So that was a sacrifice, probably that personal time, and spending time with — when we go back to friendships — I narrowed down that friendship list of who I was going to spend time with, again being really intentional there with that time. And so there are some sacrifices as you take on more responsibility in career and in family.”
Panelists for the discussion were Indiana Tech faculty and student acquaintances who have found a satisfying work-life balance. Grabill said event organizers were looking for individuals to serve on the panel who could address issues of importance to the emerging workforce and talk about finding meaning in their work.
The event was designed for business students but opened to the rest of the university and eventually the entire community. Kathleen Watland, dean for the business college, said Indiana Tech is focused on career preparedness and events such as Insider Scoop are an important part of that.
Organizers of the event were planning for about 50 students, she said, and it attracted almost three times that many.