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"Sendoff" prepares grads for future careers


Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 16:12

Senior sendoff

Photo by Joe Shearer/ The Gateway

Northwest Mutual managing partner Michael Tews gives a lecture and advice to graduating seniors on Oct. 15

As Fall Break approached last week, graduation was on the mind of many hopeful seniors.

To congratulate this academic year’s seniors in Universit y of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business Administration, Northwest Mutual Financial Group and the Career Center at CBA hosted the second-annual Senior Sendoff event at Mammel Hall Oct. 15.

The dozen graduates in attendance were treated to a free meal and giveaways, while speaking with various Career Center representatives and other area professionals about career advice. Shortly after, the students shuffled into the Mammel Hall Auditorium to watch presentations from the CBA faculty and Northwest Mutual representatives, as well as a keynote address from UNO Associate Athletic Director Josh White.

Michael Tews, managing partner for Northwest Mutual, stressed the importance of volunteering out in the community and the values potentials employers see in it, noting the university’s several community-engagement service opportunities. He said that, besides the benefits to those being helped, volunteerism shows selflessness and a team mentality in potential employees
“We’re in a day and age where giving back to the community is expected,” Tews said. “Whether it’s through volunteer work or just doing something financial, it doesn’t really matter; but giving back is something employers want to see.”

Tews also spoke to the students about not worrying about being a follower. Many young business graduates dream of high-management positions while in school, but Tews said being a “great follower” will groom one for future leadership roles.

“Many of the people I know in the business world today, most of them were great followers first,” Tews explained. “A great follower is enthusiastically loyal to the leader and the team. They ask great questions, creatively bring ideas to the table and are very coachable.”

Tews explained that patience and a willingness to be taught new things are imperative to maturing as a professional.

“Grow me, help me, tell me how to improve,” Tews said. “Leaders love it when their followers really want to learn while adding to the team using their strengths.”

Josh White found his strengths in the realm of college athletics. Before arriving at UNO, White served as the assistant athletic director for compliance and planning at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and then worked for the NCAA as the associate director of membership services. He had also been at UNO from 1999 to 2002 where he worked as a compliance director.

White will admit that it wasn’t a straight shot to the top, though.

“You always think that your career is going to go [straight up],” said. “Sometimes it’s more of a zigzag. It can take many twists and turns.”

And those twists aren’t necessarily a bad thing, White said. If it wasn’t for a chance-encounter with UNL Senior Associate Athletic Bob Burton during law school he said he would have never had the opportunity to work in Lincoln’s athletics department.

“I had no intention of staying here in Nebraska,” White said. “But you grow, your interests change and things just happen, so never think that there is only one way for you to go in life and your career.”

The goal of the Senior Sendoff was to treat students and take some of the pre-graduation stress off of their collective backs, if only for the afternoon. And with several careers ahead of these prospective graduates, White just wanted them to walk away with a little enlightenment and sound advice.

“What you have gone through and where you are,” White said. “You’re very lucky to have the opportunities that you have here in Omaha and at UNO. Now it’s up to you to go out and use your strengths and what you learned to build your career. Congratulations.”

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