Failure… It’s Not Fatal

by Dia Buchanan, Recruitment Coordinator, Belmont University

As the Spring semester begins, we begin to reflect on this past semester and set goals for the New Year. I encourage you to reflect on lessons learned from 2017, particularly your failures.

As a child, I adored the film The Wiz. The 1978 rendition of the Wizard of Oz is a story about four strangers-turned friends and their journey of seeking character traits which they unknowingly already possess. I used to watch this movie multiple times each day almost every day. My favorite scene was when Dorothy and the Scarecrow searched to find the yellow brick road. As the music and dancing began, I would pretend I was Dorothy and I would force my Nana to act like the Scarecrow and carry me on her back down the yellow brick road-also known as the hallway between our kitchen and living room. It was not until I was an adult that I recognized the principles and teachable moments that were evident throughout the movie. Each character’s journey illustrates a life lesson that captures the spirit of service, courage, and celebration.

My personal experiences relate mostly to the Cowardly Lion because he is able to put aside his own fears to help his friends. In The Wiz, the song, Be a Lion is sung by Diana Ross and Ted Ross. The lyrics recite the following:

If on courage you must call,
Then keep on tryin’ and tryin’ and tryin’,
You’re a lion.
In your own way, be a lion.

Keep on Tryin’.

These lyrics, along with the essence of the Cowardly Lion’s character, relate directly to the experiences of failure. When we are faced with obstacles, challenges, and failures, we have to keep on tryin’ and face them head on, as each new day brings new opportunities. The “tomorrow” of our career paths has finally offer us a golden opportunity. Although we have encountered obstacles in getting ‘here’, the journey has made us who we are as professionals. Have a courageous spirit, and never give up. Do not be discouraged by your failures, look at them as learning opportunities.

We are not connected by atoms, we are connected by our stories.

From my experiences, I learned that when things go wrong, we cannot go with them. Delays should never be seen as denials. My experiences of trial, tribulation, and failure within my personal career path relate directly to my passion for encouraging young people in their career development plans. We will all fail at some point in our lives, but when we share our stories, we help others achieve.

Embrace growth and foster growth within others.

Facing setback allows failure to become an opportunity for personal strength and character building. By being honest and sharing our stories, we inspire others to focus on the process of achieving their professional goals and the positive lessons taught in every situation they may encounter along the way. Courage is recognizing the small wins and the continuation of pursuing the big ones.

Talk It Over:

What small wins did you and your team accomplish in 2017?
What challenges have you learned from?
How will you share your story and help others achieve?

Happy Reflection and Goal Setting! Remember, you don’t have to wait until your summer retreat, one-on-ones, or the new year to set new goals. Reflect and renew on today.


Dia Buchanan enjoys employer engagement and fostering collaborative relationships among employers, university representatives and students. She has 5 years of experience, exclusively focused in higher education administration with an emphasis on recruitment and relationship building. Her work has encompassed many aspects of student development, ranging from college admissions counseling to job search and career exploration advising. This experience has been obtained through undergraduate admissions and career services. Dia currently serves as Recruitment Coordinator in the Office of Career & Professional Development at Belmont University.

Dia holds a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and a B.S. in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. Her credentials include Global Career Development Facilitation and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Certification. She presently serves within SoACE as co-chair of the Employer Relations Summit and Assistant Program Coordinator of Tweet Chats and Social Media for the Employer Relations Knowledge Group (ERKG). Connect with her on LinkedIn for collaboration.

Professional Development Scholarship Recipient – Valerie Kielmovitch Mandel

I had the great pleasure of attending the 2017 CSI East Conference this past August at George Mason University. A few colleagues had attended in the past and came back raving about the experience and professional growth they experienced. Reflecting back on my involvement, they were definitely correct.

Right from the beginning, the conference had a different atmosphere than any other I have experienced due to the smaller number of attendees (around 70) and the friendliness of everyone there.  The conference started off with a panel of various recruiters from a variety of employers including EY, American Red Cross, Enterprise Holdings, Travelers Insurance, Citibank and MAXIMUS. They gave insights to all of us career professionals on some of the reasoning behind recruiting at specific institutions, advice for career services staff and their view of the future of college recruiting. We then had round table discussion time with the recruiters as well to ask more specific questions.

This was followed by Skill Sessions discussing topics ranging from embracing change, a behind the scenes look at college recruiting through the employer lens, assessment and finally talent disruption in the emerging workplace. All of these were very hands on sessions with lots of time for critical thinking and asking questions.

The unique aspect of this conference came later in the day when we formed our Job Alike Sessions which consisted of about 15 people with similar job types. We each had approximately 5 minutes to share a best practice from our office and give a handout to take back to our respective institutions. These were extremely interesting and well received. It was fascinating to hear what was going on at other institutions and how their best practices could be modified and implemented at my campus. We also had two faculties in the group, one a seasoned career services professional and one employer. They were able to give great insight and depth to our conversations.

There was plenty of time to network with other professionals and learn about each other’s institutions. Overall, this was a great experience and I left with many new ideas. I was very thankful to have been selected for the SoACE Professional Development Scholarship which allowed me to attend this conference.


Valerie Kielmovitch Mandel is the Director within the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University- Daytona Beach. She has worked in the Career Services office at ERAU since 2010. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and her Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina. Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.

2017 Professional Development Scholarship Recipient – Donna Srader

I have worked in the Texas Tech University Career Center for three years now and anyone who has ever worked with Jay Killough, our director, knows his passion for helping his staff and our students identify their strengths. Two of my strengths are input, a desire for more facts and knowledge, and intellection, a need for intellectual activity. So when Jay urged anyone who was interested to apply for a SoACE scholarship, I jumped on it. I could learn something new and SoACE would pay! Win, win!

Because I am seeing more and more alumni who want to make a career change and current students unsure of their career objectives, I chose to obtain a Career Transition Certification through Career Thought Leaders Association. I gained new ideas, learned new techniques, and developed resources to help students and alumni work through the transition process in this self-paced program.

Of all the useful information I gained, the most valuable was learning to view the loss of a career or, for current students, the inability to complete a major they have worked toward for years, through the lens of the grieving process. This idea of grieving the loss of a job or the failure to complete a goal is not new. However, the suggestions for helping individuals through their grief will be invaluable in creating and implementing a structured process that is flexible enough to meet the in-depth needs of alumni while complementing the services we already offer to our on-campus and distance students.

Of the many different grief/transition models presented in the course, my favorite is the William Bridges Transition Model ( This model begins with the loss or ending which transitions into the Neutral Zone. Most of the students and alumni that I see are in the Neutral Zone between the end of the old thing and the beginning of the new thing. The transition from the old to the new, whether it be a job or a way of life, can be long, difficult, and psychologically distressing. People transitioning through the limbo must mourn the loss of something before they can be comfortable with the change, the new thing.

Working with a career coach to transition through the Neutral Zone can be an opportunity for creativity and development. That ability to help students and alumni through the limbo of the Neutral Zone is my biggest accomplishment in the completion of this certification. Along with a greater understanding of the process of grief and transition, I have gained tangible resources to assist students and alumni.

Over the past three years, I have come to rely on SoACE for exceptional professional development opportunities, from the webinars to the conference each December. Utilizing the SoACE scholarship has broadened my perspectives and strengthened my skill set.

I value the opportunities that SoACE provides for sharing my experiences and learning from others. And I am grateful that I was chosen as a recipient of the SoACE Scholarship in 2017 because I gained new tools, skills, and information that will benefit my colleagues, current students, and alumni. I urge every member of SoACE who is eligible to apply for the scholarship!