This past Wednesday, alumna Kimberly Harden (B.A., 2006) visited her alma mater to mentor UW Department of Communication undergraduates. While earning a Master’s and currently pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership studies at Gonzaga University, Harden has had a variety of professional experiences with nonprofit organizations, teaching, and owning her own business.
Having worked previously at international corporations and nonprofits like World Vision, Providence Health and Services, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Swedish Medical Center, and PATH, Harden is now the Founder and Managing Director for JAGWILL Professional Writing and Editing Services, a company she created to help people improve their communication, research, and writing skills. She is also a board member of the Action for Media Education, where she maintains expertise in current media literacy trends to support the advancement of active, critical media consumption by both youth and adults.
Here are a few pieces of advice students took away from the discussion:
- Have a “success circle” – people that you can ask for advice or just rant and rave to in frustrating or successful times. Harden has a mentor in a variety of areas that she can go to for help: marketing, branding, finance, business owners, etc.
- When you first start out, be proactive and jump in where you see a need. Managers don’t know everything and people don’t know what they don’t know, so if you see an area that can be improved, create a plan. This shows that you care about the organization and making it better.
- Gain experience through volunteering opportunities. On your résumé and in interviews, call this community leadership.
- Always honor your contacts. You don’t know who knows who; therefore a person you met years before could come into your life again.
- Don’t ever overpromise and under-deliver. Be honest about your skill set and don’t say you can do something if you can’t.
- Life and work is about process improvement.
And finally – ask questions even if the answer is no, keep planting seeds because they will eventually grow, and eliminate fear as it does nothing but lead to procrastination and stagnation.
Fun fact: Kimberly met and took a picture with President Obama – a testament to being ready for anything that comes your way and taking advantage of every opportunity!