GV student leadership: don’t be a follower

College is hard enough between having to maintain grades or focus on hours of extra-curriculars each week, but is your dedication to your studies and clubs enough to land you your dream job? Is it these skills employers are looking for or something else — something like leadership? Do you really think Bill Gates would be where he is today without leadership experience?

Gates was a leader in his own career as he acted to pursue his passion and is now a billionaire. Gates lives out his leadership qualities today via his foundation through which he has donated billions of dollars to many causes.

Alec Zama, director of the Viking Leadership Credential program here at GV, said he doesn’t believe focusing on school is enough to land you your dream job, an opinion shared by the employers he’s talked to. What employers say they are looking for in future employees is involvement in leadership on their campus or in their community. A student can have a 4.0 GPA, but what really matters is what they have done beyond that.

Photos by Annah Begg

Dictionary.com gives the definition of leadership as “the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group.” However, Zama defines it as “a process of influencing others to achieve a common goal.”

To him, leadership is not about the position or the title but about the process and the relationship you are building with others. Many people claim they are born leaders, but Zama said that is not the case; otherwise, why would there be these opportunities such as the Viking Leadership Credential?

The Viking Leadership Credential is a 12-credit program at GV that allows students to learn how to be a leader in different ways and focus on community and on-campus leadership.

However, this is not the only leadership opportunity available at GV. Currently, there are 35 clubs and organizations on campus that provide a variety of ways for students to get involved.

Giselle Sancen-Valero, senior at GV, is involved in two of those leadership organizations: Multicultural Ambassadors and Team GV. Sancen-Valero said she is confident that getting involved in leadership at a young age has helped her come out of her shell and learn to voice her opinion. She said she also believes that the leadership experiences from her youth, as well as her experiences in leadership positions at GV, have led her to find who she is and what she values to help get her future dream job from her business marketing major.

“I think of myself as more of a servant leader. I never want to be seen as the boss, and I think a lot of employers look for that,” Valero said. “If I can come up with new ideas and be efficient, which are two things that come from leadership, and be charismatic, obviously people will like you and hire you.”

With so many clubs and organizations on a campus GV’s size, there is surely a way for all students to find a role in leadership in some way.

Photos by Annah Begg

Kendall Antle, current student body president of GV, confirmed the university is looking at expanding student government on campus. This year, Viking Council has implemented six new committees to help with the governing process and to consider students’ opinions when making big decisions.

“Leadership opportunities are an integral component to a student’s education,” Antle said. “It’s the education that you get outside of the classroom.”

Not only will these leadership opportunities help with a résumé, but they will also inevitably shape and grow you as a person.

In the Harvard Business Review, a study was done to find the most important leadership skills according to different leaders around the world. The study found that an effective leader empowers others to self-organize, fosters a sense of connection and belonging and shows openness to new ideas.

“There is a difference in building your résumé and doing it because you want to become or are a leader,” said Debbi Kritzman, vice president of talent acquisition at Global Atlantic Financial Company.

Iowa Radiology Clinic Director Mendy Siembieda said she looks for leadership qualities in the staff that they hire, too.

“Leadership isn’t … managing people. It’s how well you do your job. Are you a self-starter, or do you need to be checked on to do your job?” Siembieda asked.

Similarly, as Vince Lombardi, former NFL coach once famously said, “leaders aren’t born; they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”

If you ask 100 different people what their definition of leadership is, you are going to get different answers. However, the main point of leadership is to get involved in activities that can help you grow and learn how to lead and work well with others. These opportunities can open new doors and will help you land your dream job.

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