Teaching and speaking. At first glance one might struggle to find similarities between the two activities. For one First National Technology Solutions (FNTS) Employee though, the similarity is clear: they’ve both helped her improve as an employee. Besides working at FNTS as a project manager, Karen Allen has also served as a teaching assistant at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) for the past two years, and actively participates in Toastmasters International.
Toastmasters International is an organization that aims at developing communication and leadership skills. Allen has been a member of the First National Bank’s Toastmasters group since August 2014. In addition to helping her feel more connected at First National Bank, the group has also had a positive impact on her communication skills. “I joined toastmasters so I could speak quickly, think quickly and come up with words so I wouldn’t repeatedly say um,” says Allen. Given that she speaks with both clients and potential customers regularly, strong communication skills are a must, and participating in Toastmasters has helped strengthen with those abilities.
Similar to her experience with Toastmasters, the people she interacts with as a teaching assistant at UNO have helped her expand beyond her comfort zone. Working with students allows Allen to gain perspective on what the immediate future holds. This is particularly important since she works for a technology focused company. “I learn from the students just as much as they learn from me,” she says “It allows me to see what’s up and coming. By working with Masters Students in technology, you know what the current hot topics of interest are.” This Fall, Allen will be switching from being a teaching assistant to an instructor, teaching a class that ties in almost identically with what she does at FNTS. The course description is Applications, Organizations and Technology. “If that isn’t my job here right now, I don’t know what is,” she says. What do you do to push yourself outside your comfort zone? Comment below.
(Blog written by Jamey Schilling, Marketing Intern and Marquette University Student)