"The harder I work, the luckier I get"

Four months out of school, alumna Shannon Molter `15 reflects upon her progress - from internship to full-time opportunity at Kohls.

Work hard, take maximize opportunities and move outside your comfort zone - those are certainly pieces of advice students hear from leaders around campus.

But the message takes on new meaning when it comes from a keynote speaker who, not long ago, was a student just like them.

Standing at the podium four months after graduation, Shannon Molter admitted it felt "extremely surreal standing here today," addressing students and faculty as part of the daylong student conference of the School of the Humanities, Social Science and Education.

In a day meant to showcase student achievement within the classroom, Shannon represented what success can look like post-graduation. She is an associate business analyst at Kohl's.

Throughout college Shannon was offered - and accepted - many opportunities for growth, through multiple internships and participation in an entrepreneurial program called The Commons. She was offered her job at Kohls based largely upon these opportunities. She reflected upon her college experience and offered some advice to students:

  • Take time to learn about yourself: Originally a fashion major, it wasn't until she ventured out of her niche that she discovered a love for writing and eventually graduated with a degree in communications.
  • Get involved on campus: Shannon recalled how, being a reporter for Arches, took her outside her comfort zone by covering events and meeting people
  • Build strong relationships: Having a strong mentor who recommended her for programs, most notably the Commons, "is the reason I have my career today."
  • Learn from every experience, even the less-than-perfect ones. By working in a small public relations firm as an intern, she discovered her preference for working in a bigger corporate environment.
  • Own your future: Take responsibility for your education, career and development, Shannon said. "Even though this is a small school, there is endless opportunity," she said. "Don't just do the minimum just to get by."

Shannon acknowledges that as a student, she remembers feeling undecided and unsure.

"Feeling lost and confused is completely normal," she said. Only by recognizing opportunities, taking chances and working hard does one discover their direction.

"I've come to realize that it's true, the harder I work, the luckier I get," she said. "And all of you can create that luck for yourself."