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Watch Beth Gregory-Wallis, student strengths development coordinator at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, share how having intentional conversations about strengths helps students prepare for their careers.
From the video:
I'm Beth Gregory-Wallis and I work as the student strengths development coordinator for Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
As a Certified Strengths Coach, I'm able to dig in with our students on campus. Mostly in doing a lot of the advanced Strengths conversations, discussions I have with them. We work with a couple of our programs, our Nursing and our Dental Hygiene students specifically, to meet with them every semester throughout their program. And so that by the end, they're just fully prepared and are more aware of their strengths on a deeper level than just knowing their Top 5. They start to really dig in and discover themselves. And then utilize them. We do mock interviews with them in their final semester, and they talk about them. And can provide examples of how they apply to themselves and really prepare them for the workforce.
We know that strengths isn't a diagnostic tool, right, for what they should, what career they should choose. But it helps them to really dig in to apply whatever their Top 5 are, to apply to whatever career they're going towards. And it might give a clue here or there about what might be a better avenue if they're really floundering. They're trying to discover themselves, figure out what it is I wanna major in. We have so many undecided students on campus. So, it's great to have those conversations and something as a starting point. Just even if it's, you know, for them to learn about themselves, to gain that self-confidence, to then be able to start talking about, well, you know, if you do have Discipline, you're probably gonna want more structure in your day. And be able to do something more regularly that has some routine. You know, if you have Adaptability, you're probably gonna be really great in being able to wing it. And, you know, be able to think on your feet and just take, take things as they come in a day. So, not getting too narrowly focused, but being able to talk with them about how to use those in future career paths.
I love it when I'm sitting with a student and the light bulb goes off. They have the aha moment of, oh, that's how my strengths apply. Or that's how I use my Discipline Strength as a Dental Hygienist. To see that really shine through. And they can really apply that and figure out how to use it, sort of in their day to day.
To me there's a synergy there that starts to kind of explode when they start to be able to put their strengths with their work and what they're doing. And their, you know, their enthusiasm, they become so much more self-confident in themselves. And that awareness becomes even greater.
I just had a student recently tell me that they really appreciated the soft-skills that they gained. And they sort of, their whole overall aha moment with strengths was like, wow, I could do anything, doesn't have to be x, y or z. But I could do anything because I can go learn the technical skills of that job, but what I can't learn are the soft-skills, and what's true for me, and my Top 5. And so, they were really excited on how they could apply those to their future career path.
What I love most about it is that it really gives our students, not only students the social language to kind of have the conversation around strengths, but then they're connecting also with faculty and staff on campus, because we really are a strengths-based campus. And everybody on campus is able to tap into their strengths and utilize it and so there are lots of conversations that happen, either with their peers or their classmates. But then also maybe when they go to meet with the instructor during office hours, they can also talk about their Strengths. And so, there's just great conversations happening. 'Oh, you know, you have Achiever, I have Achiever. Wow, how does, what does that look like for you?' And being able to, yeah, really connect with that. And figure out, and you know find that commonality I think amongst each other.
It's just a great tool, it's a great avenue to allow students to have these conversations about what they're doing really well. To be able to talk with other staff. To figure out sorta how they wanna use them in their future careers, down their path. In the classroom, outside the classroom, wherever it is that they can really dig in.
On a college campus, students are, you know, there's this great atmosphere for learning, and they wanna dig in more. But they also wanna learn more about themselves. There's this thirst. There's this, they wanna know what it is that I'm doing well. And then be able to just take that even further and so, of course, because we're all there for the students, that's just so exciting when you start to see that energy coming through. And students really discovering themselves in a way that is for the better. Learning that, you know, we don't have to focus on the negative or what we have to always be getting better at. That we can just focus on our strengths and do those even more.
This content first appeared in the Strengths Insights Newsletter -- subscribe today!