The key to our careers is to surround ourselves with great people

by David Barnhardt
Director of Communications & Student Recruitment
West Virginia Northern Community College


This is the second of a two-part positivity series. Check out the first part here.


So everyone can do marketing, right? I mean everyone can give suggestions. However, does anyone truly know what we do?


In our field, we do a lot, and it is challenging. We research, look at data, analyze our audience, pivot, target, hone the message, pivot, stretch our budget, negotiate, evaluate new trends, make connections, pivot again, deliver good content, post, pivot, question all of our life decisions … the list goes on for miles. But don’t let what anyone says get you down. It can be a bumpy road, but it’s also super rewarding when we nail it or hit our goals. Celebrate those victories, even the tiniest ones! Give yourself a pat on the back, and then keep going!


If people give constructive criticism, don’t roll your eyes. Embrace it. Thank them. Perhaps the critics will spark an idea or give you a nugget to use. It is up to all of us to let our colleagues know exactly what we do and why we do it. Educate them. They will appreciate your value more.


Never lose sight of the work you are putting in. Don’t let anyone detract from the work we do to make lives better by spreading the opportunities available at community colleges.


One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


The key to our careers is to surround ourselves with great people. One of my favorite strategies to keeping a positive frame of mind is to make connections. If you are feeling beat down or frustrated, go grab coffee or lunch with a staff or faculty member who is positive and you respect. They are also doing amazing work, and, by simply connecting with them and sharing, you will draw inspiration from their stories and their great work, too. It will reinvigorate you and remind you why we put our blood, sweat and tears into our jobs.


Go fight the good fight, and thanks for being in the arena. Godspeed!


David Barnhardt is the director of communications and student recruitment at West Virginia Northern Community College. He was a member of NCMPR’s 2021-22 Leadership Institute cohort.


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