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Career Lessons from a 10-Year-Old

Tags: Fellowship

Samantha Albert, Fellowship Class of 2015

In fifth grade I convinced myself I wanted to be a marine biologist. While I adored sea turtles and swimming in the ocean, I honestly had no idea what a marine biologist actually did. I simply liked the idea of it and the way it sounded: Samantha Albert, Marine Biologist. I remember telling everyone my grandiose idea, craving support and affirmation. Mostly I just received small head nods and knowing chuckles. I was, after all, only 10 years old. What did I know?

Our childish visions, while often imaginative, are excellent building blocks. Very few people go on to become their fifth-grade daydream. With any luck, however, that initial daydream sets us on a positive course. Let me emphasize I am not at El Pomar today because I wanted to be a marine biologist… Rather, I believe I am here because I had vision and hope for the future. While my vision has changed throughout the years, I am confident El Pomar will continue to focus my vision and set me on course to find something as meaningful as marine biology was to me at 10 years old.

As I continue to develop this vision, I have a few takeaways from my first 6 months at El Pomar:

  1. My 10 year-old-self was only concerned with me and my future. I was acutely unaware that a dedicated and caring team makes a world of difference in a career. I hope to find myself in an environment that prides itself on building strong teams and supporting creative people.
  2. Growing up comes with tough lessons, and most of these lessons are relevant from childhood onwards. Leaving your homework until the last minute: a lesson in time management. Talking poorly about someone behind their back: a lesson in respect. Refusing to ask for help: a lesson in teamwork and trust. El Pomar expects my mistakes, but encourages lessons learned. Whether you’re studying marine life or supporting nonprofits, every work place has something new to teach you.
  3. Leadership takes practice just like swimming in the ocean takes practice. I hope to continue to practice leading other leaders and motivating those who are still realizing their own potential. Everyone has something to offer, and allowing people to realize this is the first step in building trust and respect as a leader.

I look forward to focusing my vision and navigating the course toward a meaningful career. While I may not have a future swimming with sea turtles, I can thank my adolescent self for having hope for the future and El Pomar for continuing to foster this hope.