Careers May 2012


How to be your own personal “Best of”…

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University, S. Bellevue, Nebraska (  to discuss the new initiative Bellevue University has launched to address the real concerns of many in today’s market – the downward spiral of quality education and the ranking of US education in the world. Once number one, the US ranks 12th internationally; something we clearly need to change to be competitive.
We hear the term “best of” each year. Publications, such as CRL, survey their readers to rank the Best Of for restaurants, services, hotels, sports venues, etc. But how can you be the “Best Of “ in your life; fulfilled in career and life? It all starts with a commitment and a pledge to be your best.

Dr. Hawkins feels that students who started but did not complete their degree often get left behind as the job market and skill requirements change (I agree with this completely). “Sixty percent of those who start a course of education, sadly, do not complete it,” she said, a statistic that floored me.  “College counselors struggle to understand the needs of today’s students. If we can motivate those students to return later in life, there could be a positive impact upon the nation.”

Dr. Hawkins – your study identified that 25% of  workers don’t like their job. Was this surprising?
Yes, Dan, as I did not think the percentage would be that high. This high level of discontent with work impacts productivity and morale as well, since a job is so tightly aligned to an individual, their self-satisfaction, family and community. If one is unhappy in their job, it affects all parts of their life.”

Do you feel there is a shift in traditional thoughts about work – with work being a means to produce income and you needn’t be happy as long as you were making money to support the family?
“Absolutely. There is clearly a new thought process so unlike previous generations. Our parents and generations before worked in one industry, one company for their careers – even if they didn’t like their job. It was just the right thing to do.  Today, there are new opportunities to redirect one’s career and people are more mobile offering even more opportunities. There are new options to continue education in a traditional or non-traditional way, opening new doors for those contemplating a change.

You also found that 12% were opting for self-employment.  Why do you feel this is happening?

We are finding that people want more control over their lives and more flexibility. Younger students see what is possible as they have witnessed the founders of Facebook and Apple become rock stars and rich, and often their plan is to follow that path versus traditional employment.  People also seem to want to create something of their own – to create their own work of art – and they have the means and resources to do so with technology and communication. Colleges are beginning to catch up to this wave. Here at Bellevue University, we established a Center of Entrepreneurship to specifically address this need and the emerging growth.

To those reading this, shaking their heads and saying, “Yes, this is me I need to restart,” – what advice do you have for them?
The most important action – commit. You and I know, Dan, that the first step in redirecting one’s career is that commitment to yourself. We ask people to take a pledge to themelves as part of the Make It Happen Now initiative. Next, if further education is your goal, contact your college of choice and if you do not get the answers you need, call another. Make sure they understand your needs. We are always here at Bellevue to help. One should also look to their current employer to see if there are educational benefits available.

Fast forward five years from now – what do you hope we see in the next survey?

I would love to see 50% of those who have started but not finished their education get to completion which will help them grow and provide for their family. If we get this going, we will be in great shape.

Tell me more about

It was born here at the University and is part of our commitment to help the 38 million Americans who have some college credit but no degrees realize their dreams. Everyone is asked to make a personal pledge of commitment to their goals which is printable and can be shared with others. That is the start. From there, we provide, via our website, a host of resources – experts in the field of career and education – which I know you are joining Dan, and information to inform and motivate those who make a commitment. It all starts with the pledge and one can do it right now at

Dr. Hawkins’ leadership is inspiring to see and it isn’t just words – it is action! Take the first step – a critical step – commit to being the “best“ in your life. Take the pledge and keep it in front of you.

Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie.  You can reach him at 641.8968 or or visit


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