NACE competency: Leadership — Jessica’s Career Tip of the Week

Career readiness is such an important concept in the field of career development, and by applying the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) seven core competencies, you will grow as a future professional, and increase your career readiness levels. Last week, I illustrated the concept of digital technology. At the present time, I am going to illustrate an integral competency that engineers will want to acquire Leadership. Next, I will define, highlight, and provide examples of this competency.

 According to NACE (2020), leadership is the ability to “Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize and delegate work.”

Out of all of the NACE competencies that I have written about thus far, I believe that leadership is one of my most favorite topics to write about. In my own professional journey, leadership has been a work in progress for me. Prior to obtaining my PhD in counselor education and supervision at Virginia Tech, I was a career advisor (as a graduate assistant in my master’s program at Florida State University) and a professional career counselor for approximately nine years. However, after I graduated with my PhD, I found myself managing and leading teams at a few career centers. This is definitely a skill that I had to learn and acquire along the way. As I continue to learn more about myself and evolve as a leader, I always integrate Virginia Tech’s motto, “That I May Serve”. As I have reflected more on this motto and have learned more about myself in my leadership roles, I have identified myself as a “servant-leader”. I believe this type of leadership has been extremely vital in the work that I have done with managing professional career counselors as well as with now currently managing the peer career coaches here at Fulton’s Career Center. Due to my commitment to personal growth as a goal for each of the teams that I have led and managed, this leadership style is what I find works for me in terms of application. Not only is being a “servant-leader” about allowing my teams to grow and flourish, it is also about applying characteristics such as empathy, listening, and stewardship which are a few of my greatest strengths. While these characteristics are always important to apply as a “servant-leader”, I always strive to accomplish the team’s goals by having a vision and a strategic plan.

Now that I have illustrated examples of my own leadership, I will now provide examples of how my peer career coaches have served as leaders. One of my peer career coaches, who is a computer science major, stated that he is currently a member of an on-campus student organization in which he currently holds a leadership role. He has led meetings and conducted presentations to teach students new skills and information. Additionally, he has been an undergraduate teaching assistant and stated that he gained valuable leadership skills through assisting students with understanding concepts and conducting presentations so that the students are better prepared for upcoming exams. Another one of my peer career coaches, who is a computer systems engineering major, provided a good example of how leadership can be applied through teamwork. He mentioned that the leader of the team project needs to step up by holding the group together, providing hope, and brainstorming new ideas as the group establishes momentum in their academic project. He was also an undergraduate teaching assistant and was one of the organizers of a hackathon as well. He reported that the hackathon was a success with more than 400 participants.

Now that I have provided leadership examples, I would like for all of you to reflect on what type of leader that you would like to become. Researching different types of leadership styles would be a great start in this process. I believe engineering students are capable and very bright. While you are inventing the future and being innovative in the work that you do, think of the most effective leaders in your life. Ask yourself, “What made them great?” Also ask yourself, “What steps do I need to take to be a great leader in my future organization?” Remember that we are all a work in progress. As you are thinking about the topic of leadership, I’m now going to ask you to reflect on and internalize one of the greatest quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Reference Cited: 

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2020). Retrieved from

**Peer Career Coaches Prashant Mokkapati and Arnav Kasturia assisted with providing examples for the blog.