On Friday, January 24, 2020, the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) organized its first professional development lunch specifically for graduate students from various CAST departments. Themed “Time Management and Work/Life Balance,” the lunch was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of CAST’s graduate students as well as serve as an interactive platform to learn important skills.

The session was facilitated by Director of Compliance and Communications Becky Ropp of GROWMARK, Inc. Ropp shared her experiences balancing her career with other professional as well as personal interests. The first part of the session focused on “Balancing Load and Limits.” Ropp encouraged students to understand their body and memory limits, identify practical ways to reduce stress and figure out their priorities. In an environment filled with constant distraction, it is important to find what is important by asking questions like “What earns you money?” and “Where does your time go?” Investing time in inspecting one’s checkbook and calendar is the first step to accepting the limits of time and talent. Ropp also advised students to respect their inner circles, identifying individuals that can keep them accountable.

The common saying goes “procrastination is a thief of time.” Every participant could relate to putting off important activities because they seem difficult or we just don’t feel like them. Using an interesting analogy “eat that frog,” Ropp explained the importance of tacking the most difficult activities first and maximizing each day. Achieving certain goals from completing a graduate degree to landing a dream job or scoring a promotion, does not come automatically. Individuals have to be intentional about how their time is spent by figuring out actions that yield the highest value and minimizing time wasters.

At the end of the session, participants had the opportunity to share their personal experiences and ask questions about time management and professional success. Some students who attended the professional development lunch also shared their takeaways.

“I really enjoyed the second part of the presentation about “eat the frog.” I felt it was a great way to encourage others on how to tackle difficult daily tasks!” – Melissa Kay Gray, Criminal Justice Sciences.

“Respect your time. Celebrate yourself. Set two to three goals and do something every day to make them happen.” – Madina Tursunboeva, Project Management.

“I feel like a lot of the professional development lunch was practical knowledge we all hear and kind of apply to our lives like organizing your schedule and that it felt like a reminder that we should incorporate these techniques into our lives more. However, I feel that the eat that frog section applied most to me. Just taking on the important big tasks head-on rather than the different procrastinating methods we all take. Overall, I enjoyed it. Plus the food was great.” – Franklin Chang, Criminal Justice Sciences.