I stepped off the plane and greeted the professor of the class for which I was lecturing. We had about an hour and a half before my lecture was to begin. As she chauffeured me to the university, she asked if I needed anything for my presentation.
She gave me a quick refresher on what to expect: I had 50 minutes available for lecturing and questions. She invited multiple classes to attend my session. Her students were excited to have someone with such a range of experience coming to talk to them.
I was 25 years old, only about three years out of university myself.
To this day, this is one of my favorite professional accomplishments. Not only because it sounds cool (I was a university guest lecturer! At 25 years old!), but because the sequence of events that led to me addressing a room full of wide-eyed college kids is borderline ridiculous.
Here's how it happened.
How I Became a One-Time Guest Lecturer at the University of Nevada Las Vegas
Like many of my favorite professional accomplishments, my invitation to guest lecture at UNLV came about through a well-maintained, previously-existing relationship.
The professor was my friend Lauren*; she was my first supervisor in my first career as a Logistics Readiness Officer in the U.S. Air Force.
After a little over two years working together, I transitioned into a new career field and moved to Florida. She picked up an assignment as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at UNLV. Our careers had taken wildly different tracks—which ended up benefitting both of us in this particular case.
To be honest, my memory on how I came to guest lecture for her classes is a little fuzzy: either she was discussing traditional military career tracks with her students and invited me to share the story of my very non-traditional career path (which resulted in a lot of opportunities not normally available) or we were tossing around the idea of my coming to visit and added in a guest lecture because, hey, why not?
The how isn't important here. What's important is that we created a mutually-beneficial opportunity based on the strength of our personal relationship.
Lauren and I have maintained our friendship over 10+ years, multiple job and career changes, two marriages, five children, and so many countries, states, and cities that I've lost count. No matter where we are in the world, we know that we can reach out to each other, whether it's to grab a drink while passing through the other's airport or go on a girls' getaway trip nowhere close to where the other lives.
Maintaining and strengthening previously-existing relationships is one of the core lessons of the Reach Out Initiative, my free, five-day mini-course on building better personal and professional relationships.
Beginning April 25, 2016, the Reach Out Initiative encourages participants to make one new, authentic connection each day via a Reach Out, or a quick contact with a specific compliment, connection, or request.
Each day has a theme, like Coffee with a Colleague or Ballers and Big-Shots, and comes complete with suggestions for a Reach Out, scripts, and methods. (In truth and transparency, as my coach likes to say, I'm going to Reach Out to Lauren on Coffee with a Colleague Day and see if we can meet for a drink!)
The ROI has its own Facebook group to make new connections and get support.
And did I mention that it’s free?
Enter your name and email address below to get started immediately, or visit the ROI Portal to learn more.
*not her real name