Back to School Tips

The Emerging Leaders have some tips on getting back in the game.


  • Take the initiative and introduce yourself early

The best thing to do is to introduce yourself to your advisor, career counselor, professors, and even the dean. These are the people who have all the answers and can provide resources. The earlier you become acquainted with these people, the better they'll understand your needs. If you wait until the eleventh hour-the day before an exam, the last month before internships are required-you're less likely to get the attention you need and deserve.

  • Stay connected

Imagine what it's like as an academic administrator. Why do students come to your office? They come because they have a problem. Day in and day out, the administrative staff deals with students' problems. Usually, the egg is broken and the student wants someone to put it back together. Don't be that student. Visit admin and develop relationships before the egg breaks. When you do come with a problem, they are helping someone they know, not fixing a stranger's mess. You'd be surprised how much more helpful people can be when they know something about you.

  • Know what you need to do

While staff may have the professional responsibility to make sure students are taking the right courses and attending required events, mistakes happen. "Nobody told me" is not an acceptable excuse in the business world. Information is available everywhere about required courses, deadlines, policies, and so forth. If you can't find it, ask someone. But don't wait until the last week of your internship to review the syllabus and see if it meets requirements. Assuming that you will always be told where to go and what to do will lead to problems.

  • The slow drip

Sometimes you request action or support from admin and then are thrown into limbo. No e-mails, no updates, no nothing. Bureaucracies can move painfully slow sometimes, and though Pepperdine's small size makes it more nimble, change does take time. The best response is the slow drip method: occasional office pop-ins, polite e-mail inquiries, and so on that keep the person reminded of your request.

  • You catch more bees with honey than vinegar

Getting upset and arguing with admin is pointless. It will not produce results. When someone is pushed, their natural reaction is to push back. A friendly, polite approach will always be more effective than an aggressive one.

  • All in all

You might see a pattern in this message: getting things done involves forming and managing relationships. With such a small, personal environment, Pepperdine offers chances to interact with faculty and staff that other schools can't match. This allows opportunities for change.