A group of Wake Forest University Trustees gathered over lunch on Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Alumni Hall to discuss career development.

We began by responding to the discussion prompt, “Tell us about your first job and what you learned from it.” Stories emerged about early work experiences in restaurants, drug stores and construction. Others in our group talked about working as a hospital orderly, door-to-door Christmas card salesman, tobacco primer and oil field roughneck.

Despite the variety of jobs we held, we quickly realized that the everyone’s first job provided lessons about the individual, while also teaching lessons about teamwork, ownership and respect. Other themes centered on understanding the motivations of others, finding joy and meaning in any type of work, and building networks.

We began a group discussion about the difference in motivations for securing a first job, specifically the difference between jobs to boost a resume and jobs to pay bills.  We also discussed the link between personal values, building community and helping students translate experiences into career skills.

Our conversation concluded with the group sharing what we wish University leaders could hear from the conversation that would inform thinking around the topic of career development.  Consensus emerged about the importance of being able to receive constructive criticism and learning how to fail; both are traits that Wake Forest can help students cultivate for career success.