Many people go to college believing that their training for a future career will happen in the classroom. But as Scott Mathie, an Applied Psychology graduate student at the University of Southern California, learned, some of the best lessons happen by getting involved.
As an undergrad, Scott decided to give becoming an R.A. a shot. That, he says, was what first made everything fit together.
“I quickly recognized that the leadership skills that were going to help me become a good Resident Assistant were the same skills that were going to help me be successful in life,” he explains. “When this clicked, I started leaning in heavily to my own development. I found a passion for sharing what I was learning.”
This led directly to Scott’s first job at his school, Coordinator for Leadership Development and Training. In this role, he was able to dedicate time to mentoring and providing leadership development to a team of students.
However, the role also made something plain to him: there weren’t a lot of online training resources he could use to help his student team. This pushed Scott to create one himself! He launched a website called NixYourLimits.com in order to showcase the kinds of leadership training he thought would be beneficial to both his own team of students and others around the world.
Now, NixYourLimits.com is growing in leaps and bounds. This year alone, Scott plans to launch the NixYourLimits (NYL) Academy, which will feature multiple online courses with specific content on leadership, communication, personal organization, goal setting, job interview skills, and more. NYL also plans on expanding to a Facebook group dedicated to helping Student Leaders connect, be supported, and find the resources they need to help catapult their careers.
But NYL isn’t Scott’s only job. In fact, Scott balances expansion for his venture, going to graduate school, and being one of our Trendsetters with a full-time job as Assistant Director for Student Involvement and Leadership at Dixie State University. In that role, he works with Student Leaders who are now keynote speakers, nurses, and higher education professionals. All-in-all, Scott estimates that he has personally mentored more than 200 student leaders through his involvement in these various ventures.
Scott strongly recommends all students interested in leadership positions start by doing whatever they can. It may be as an R.A. or Residence Hall Director, as he was, but they can also do almost anything they want. Students can build an online brand through Instagram Story, SnapChat, or blogs. Those more interested in direct involvement in their schools should start by going to activities, networking with members of the student leadership team, and recognizing their own strengths so they can speak well of the value they can add to an organization.
But most important, he says, is connecting with people. “I always felt like I was going out on a limb when I messaged people for advice or opportunities to connect or contribute,” he recalls, “but almost all of them always responded!”
This is the kind of skill that can carry over to a career, too. “No matter the career, you are going to work with people,” Scott notes. “The most important skill you can develop is the ability to communicate. I have seen countless examples where I may not have been great at a certain skill, but was able to accomplish the goal anyway because I communicated and gained help from someone who could. I have gotten fantastic recommendations from “higher ups” in companies and Institutions because I learned how to communicate and form strong relationships with them.”
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