Recent college graduate Abbie Weiss first heard about CliftonStrengths during her sophomore year at Texas A&M when she completed the CliftonStrengths assessment for a course. Like so many students, she took action once she discovered her strengths. Using her newfound knowledge of her natural talents, she chose to major in university studies-leadership, an interdisciplinary undergrad program.

After graduating, she got a job as an administrative coordinator in employee services at Tarleton State University, where she enjoys working with students.

What Weiss didn't have when she was in school was the book CliftonStrengths for Students, the strategic blueprint for schools and students based on the Gallup-Purdue Index's "Big Six." The Big Six are the experiences that strongly relate to whether students felt their college prepared them well for life and that might have bettered their chances of receiving their degree on time.

A professed fan of CliftonStrengths and strengths-based development, Weiss recently read the book to see how it could positively impact her life during the important initial phase of her career.

We caught up with Weiss to ask her a few questions about what she learned from the book, how she uses it with the students she works with in her role, and why she recommends it for any student embarking on their postsecondary education and the start of their chosen career.

Gallup: You mentioned that, having read about the Big Six experiences in CliftonStrengths for Students, you wish that you had someone who would have encouraged you to seek out those experiences in college. How do you think your life would have been different today if you had experienced that?

Abbie Weiss: I never had a professional mentorship while in college. I think it's important to have a mentor because you can learn so much from them. They could introduce you to other connections in your field of interest, encourage you to seek out some of the other six experiences and overall transform your life in a way that you might not even realize at the time.

I didn't have much professional experience, nor did I know what career path I wanted to pursue after college, but I do feel like being aware of my CliftonStrengths was one thing that I had going for myself. With my strengths, I know exactly what I bring to the table, and because of that, I am now more confident in myself.

Gallup: Can you describe the relationship between CliftonStrengths and leadership?

Weiss: I think CliftonStrengths and leadership go hand in hand. Being aware of your strengths helps you understand yourself and others better, which, in turn, leads to a more effective, efficient workplace. All of our student employees at Tarleton have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment. This has been super helpful in knowing who works best together and who to delegate what tasks to. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to hopefully impact these students' lives and encourage them to get involved on campus, find someone who is willing to mentor them, and find ways to use their strengths and further develop those strengths now.

Gallup: How do you apply the insights and principles that you read about in CliftonStrengths for Students to your everyday role now?

Weiss: The good news is that you can apply any CliftonStrengths to leadership roles and responsibilities because they are all useful. As a young professional, I know that some people might look down on me because of my age or my title, but I like to keep this in mind and do my best to look for opportunities to use my strengths and leadership skills.

I used to hate that I don't have [top] CliftonStrengths in the Strategic Thinking domain, but I have realized that all CliftonStrengths are useful, and to quote the book: "Trying to become well-rounded breeds mediocrity. You can master the things you're naturally good at, but if you're working on something that is outside your areas area of talent, you'll become, at best, OK at it."

CliftonStrengths creates a shared language that breaks down barriers and brings people together. Asking someone if they have taken the assessment or what their strengths are is a great icebreaker! I think that is part of why I love my job so much. I felt so welcomed, and it made it easier to get comfortable with my coworkers.

Gallup: How has your outlook changed in problem-solving since becoming more familiar with CliftonStrengths?

Weiss: I try to stop and ask myself, "Does this situation fall under my area of strengths? Can I use my strengths to solve this issue, or do I need to reach out to someone more adept at this area?" Two of my top strengths are in the Executing domain, which has become very apparent to me since starting my job at Tarleton. Executors are those who work tirelessly to get a job done. I'm very proud of that, and I feel it has helped me so much in my transition from student to young professional.

This content first appeared in the Strengths Insights Newsletter -- subscribe today!