January 2016: Amy Wentz Berner ‘98

Wow-2016! I know it seems cliché, but where did the time go? I look around and life just seems to be passing by…it seems like only yesterday I was at Concord gearing up for my second semester (and the coldest winter of my life!), pledging a sorority and forging lifelong friendships and making sense of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

In my 18 year career as a “working woman,” I have gathered a few tips along the way, and most are perfect for the New Year. No matter what situation or place you’re at in life, these pieces of advice may be of some help to you!

  1. Dreams don’t work unless you do.
    I was a dreamer when I came to college. As you evolve into a young adult, your dreams may also take on a new shape, but that doesn’t mean you’ve given up on anything. Most importantly, I learned that none of our dreams can be achieved without hard work! While I may have had a certain position or title at an organization, I made copies, stuffed envelopes, and made lunch runs. Pitching in and assisting others when help is needed shows that you are a team player. Camaraderie within the workplace shows loyalty, and these qualities will eventually be rewarded. Dream big, but work hard, and you will see the positive outcomes.
  2. Grow where you’re planted. 
    If there ever was a motto for me, this one is it! I was a Communication Arts major at Concord, and then went on to Marshall University and received my Master of Arts in Communication Studies. Often times I’ve asked myself “Why not a teacher, why not a social worker, why not a nurse?”- a profession where you graduate and go to work, no questions asked; not a degree where it can be interpreted virtually thousands of ways. But any person can grow and prosper in any professional position! I’ve been a Legislative Manager, a Marketing Director, a Grant Manager, an Instructor of Speech Communications, and now I am blessed to work in the Office of Special Education at the WV Department of Education. Although I am working on several things like School Health and Medicaid, many colleagues and supervisors here know my background and are pleased for me to conduct various communications training. While some would not call my current position a “traditional” one for my field, I choose to grow here and use my education along the way, while constantly learning new things. You can do the same- don’t turn down a position because on the surface it may not suit your educational background. Take a chance to grow and learn!
  3. It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.
    You are not always going to be the best. This is a TOUGH pill to swallow for you top of the class, straight-A making, club participating, teacher’s pets! I know because I was one of you ;-) But even when you aren’t the best, even when you make mistakes, there is tomorrow. Tomorrow is your chance to do more, do better, be more and be better! No one can be the best all the time- in the workplace this is all the more evident because there are so many people trying to be number one. There are real world things at stake- promotions, pay raises, time off, being the boss’ favorite (which at times can include extra perks…). Keep your integrity. Do your best. Recognize we all make mistakes. Own up to them. Apologize. Formulate a plan to ensure you don’t make the same mistake again. Realize that even though you aren’t the best today, you’re still YOU, and that’s good enough!

Concord University is a wonderful place to learn, grow, and dream. I hope you take these “working words of advice” into 2016 and beyond!