By: Turning Points
Arizona State University is home to a plethora of professional development resources, advice and connections all committed to the career success and advancement of our students and alums. As a Native college student, you are constantly building new skills, experiences and expertise that overall contributes to your professional toolbox that you take with you after graduating. We asked our ASU Native family to share their tips on professional development from an Indigenous perspective that our Native Sun Devils should consider while pursuing their studies.
Keep your communities in the forefront
Apply knowledge that you’re gaining from college back into tribal communities. When papers or projects are due, try to apply those to the issues and challenges of tribal communities. There are not many books or guidelines of ‘How to’ when you get out into the world and work in our tribal nations; it’s going to take a lot of research, background and education to create solutions for the challenges that our tribal nations face.
Find your voice
It took me some time to figure out, ‘Am I doing this right?’ To be a leader in my profession, I had to find my own voice by utilizing my own natural instincts, and it never made me stray the wrong direction. It has helped me keep myself grounded. Learn how to listen to (your) natural instincts and not to people who might put (you) down. My education, natural instincts and my passion for what I’m doing has never led me astray.
Build the community
Everyone has different gifts, skills and talents — we are unique in our own ways, and we should be supporting one another as colleagues, friends and professionals to help uplift everybody. You can’t do everything yourself; it takes a team of people. If you continue to uplift and work with others, you can make a bigger, positive impact in your professions, projects and schoolwork.
Chase the extra credit
Do what you can that can count toward any extra credit or assignments for classes so that you’re killing two birds with one stone. Get experience with an Indian organization that may fit into an assignment or an internship. That way you can see the impacts that you’re getting from your education (and also) impacts that I can do for my people and future generations.
Indigenizing Public Speaking 101
We must pay attention to our traditional foundation as Indian people. As storytellers, we have (been presenting) for thousands of years, educating and sharing our story. When I was an undergrad, I would be more afraid to speak in front of people than take on three people in a football game. I remember those times when I was afraid to speak, but it takes practice. Once you learn how to present from a traditional storytelling standpoint, then it allows you to share your stories from a humble way where you can get up in front of people. Our stories must be told. We need more of us to be telling those stories.
Take the classes that benefit Indian Country
I’ve written nearly $40 billion in grants over 22 years. I always encourage our students to take a grant writing class. You never know, you may be able to create your own program in language immersion, Native disabilities or Indian ed — whatever it is you may be interested in. I’ve been very fortunate to be a grant writer and educator, being able to make a difference for creating Indian programs both for universities and for tribes… (and training) members of the community to be grant writers. That’s what our students today have that opportunity to do: they have that mainstream American contemporary education, and when they combine that with traditional knowledge at the foundation, it creates great things for Indian people.
Make a mission statement
Come up with your own mission statement because a lot of uncertainty comes from, ‘Should I do this or not? Do I want to accept this position? Do I want to apply for this job? Should I go to grad school? Should I start working in the real world? Should I start my own business?’ Having that personal mission statement is going to help your yes’s with confidence and your no’s with no regrets.
Lifetime friendships made in college
At ASU, I learned the importance of relationships. My college friends are still very good friends today. You don’t think about the friends you make, but as you grow and become a professional, you can call on each other to help each other out. Those relationships that you make at ASU, they last a lifetime if you choose it.
Big professional nopes
Indian time- Timeliness really colors the way people view your abilities. Talk about professional time, especially when you’re working with other cultures. It really does matter.
Spell check- If they didn’t take the time to spell check this document, that means they don’t care about themselves and they’re not going to care about what we’re doing.
Social media presence- There are ways that you show up before you physically show up. In today’s day and age, we have social media. I usually Google everybody before I meet them and their company. Make sure that your online personality is something that you’re not embarrassed that your mom or your grandma sees. Make sure that it’s showing you in the best light.
Go out beyond your rez
From a Native perspective, there’s an unsaid thing for us that we need to stay close to home or we need to be at home, but home is always there. The more we go out into other countries, meet other people and other ways of thinking, we’re exposing them to our culture. You get to share your experiences, and you learn about theirs. So go out there and be a part of that, because you’re going to learn things that you can bring back home if you want to come home. That’s how new ideas happen. That’s how innovation occurs. You’re always bringing you and home with you no matter where you go.