We sat down with Strategic Elements’ resident organization expert Elizabeth Etter, Senior Project Manager. After spending time as a Captain in the United States Air Force, Liz joined the Strategic Elements team and has been an asset ever since. You can read our conversation below!
What is something you learned the hard way, professionally or not?
That you and only you will ever care the most about your life, and that you and only you are responsible for your success in your career. While it is important to have mentors (personal and professional – strongly recommend!) in your life, they cannot and should not make decisions for you. You cannot assume that someone else will go that extra mile, or will know what’s best for you, or will want to ensure your best interests. Because they are doing that for themselves. So, if you want something to work out, if you want something to change, if you want something to be a certain way, then you need to make it happen. It is one-thousand percent acceptable to voice your concerns, feelings, thoughts, and opinions to make this happen. And unless you do, nothing will ever change or improve-so, take that chance. Voice that thought (in a professional way) and help others by helping yourself and setting that example.
What is your favorite dish to order at a restaurant?
Anything with cheese – hands down.
What made you decide to intern with the Iowa State Senate?
One of my mentors at the time worked in the Iowa government and the opportunity presented itself. Looking back, it is one of the best experiences I have had professionally—it started everything for me.
Do you prefer tea or coffee, why?
Neither! I worked at a coffee shop for eight years and still cannot drink either. I don’t mind the taste, but no one needs me on caffeine.
Why did you enter the military?
A fellow intern at the Iowa State capitol suggested it would be good for me. After talking to numerous State Senators, who also had a military background, I realized it would be a perfect way to launch my career—and it really did.
What is a critical skill for a college graduate to have?
Problem-solving is essential. You need to be your own problem solver. Before asking someone next to you for the answer, do some digging and use some critical thinking. This allows you to grow both personally and professionally. One of my all-time favorite pieces of advice to give new employees of any company is to find a problem within your first month of being there. Maybe it is a problem with a process, maybe it is a problem with communication or the way they share or store things-find a way in which your company is struggling and then take ownership of finding a solution. Bring others in to help and take the chance to be innovative. If the company’s response or reaction is “this is how it has always been done” then you may have found yourself in a company that might not be successful. Really consider if this is the place for you. If you are being met with resistance at every turn, they do not want innovation and you’ll be hitting a wall. If you are met with support, more brainstorming, and an eagerness to build upon your new solution, then not only have you set your company up for success, but you’ve set yourself up for success too.
What is the best part of your job?
Managing and training people. I absolutely love mentoring and training people and watching them grow, both personally and professionally. There is nothing more satisfying than watching your people succeed.
What is your perfect Sunday?
My perfect Sunday starts with some reading and some sort of exercise, whether it is lifting weights or doing some yoga. I love getting Mexican food delivered from my favorite local restaurant and then lounging around and playing with my dog. I then try to normally get in some Spanish lessons for a few hours and then end the day with a pizza for dinner and a date night with my partner! Sundays are my ultimate chill day.