Alumni in the Spotlight with Michelle Anne Weaver

Michelle Weaver

Knowledge Analyst, Industrial practice

At Spencer Stuart
Webster Alumna

Michelle Weaver graduated with a BA in Applied Behavioral and Social Sciences (ABSS) and a minor inManagement. She got a job right after graduation, which is not a surprise. Michelle is a hard worker who is very eager, dedicated, and engaged. However, she learned that it’s also important to say no sometimes.

Juggling work and school

While I was studying, I had to do a mandatory internship for the ABSS program. I had shifted away from the more clinical side of psychology and was focusing much more on the business side of the program into the more HR side.

I got an internship at Spencer Stuart, an American global executive search and leadership consulting firm. The internship was supposed to last six months, but after two months they already offered me an extension. I was really busy, because I wanted to graduate in 3.5 years instead of 4.

I was nervous about whether or not I could juggle school and the internship because I had to write my thesis and had to do several other big projects at the same time. Spencer Stuart offered me a lot of flexibility.

I thought that it would make it easier. However, I found that I was busier. I still had to do all the work within fewer days. But I got through it, and I think it has made me h2er. After the internship, they wanted me to stay. I was really lucky to graduate and start working immediately.

"I’m a goody two-shoes for sure"

I think going to school and working was harder than having a full time job is, now. Knowing that I was so close to graduating helped me to get through it. Also, I got a lot of support from my manager at Spencer Stuart and the head of department at Webster University. I learned that you sometimes need to take a break. You can’t do everything. I was trying so hard to keep it all together; I thought I had it on track. I had this calendar and if I wanted to complete everything, I had to do everything that I had scheduled. And then the day came when I didn’t finish what I was meant to do that day. I really don’t enjoy confrontation, and I don’t enjoy getting into trouble. I’m a goody two-shoes for sure! But I learned I just have to be like, “Well there is nothing I can do about it.” You simply can’t reverse the day. Trying to juggle a career while still trying to actually graduate was a big challenge for me.

Helping communities

Webster University and Spencer Stuart are quite similar in the sense that both are so international and diverse, which makes them both helping communities. I think being international or having and international outlook makes you always willing to help somebody else out. You’ve been in that situation where you moved to a new place and all you want is to feel comfortable, and other people helped you. So when you’re in a situation to help people feel comfortable, that’s what you try to do. I moved from the international Webster community to the international community at Spencer Stuart. It was a good transition. It feels like home and I really enjoy it.

Letting go

I have learned a lot from my experience at Webster. In my first year I was like “Oh my gosh people are just addressing the professors by their first names. What is this!?” The experience that I had in Zimbabwe was so different. We could never talk to our teachers like that. Having small classrooms at Webster, where you could easily approach the professor, definitely helped me today. I have no problems walking into my manager’s office. I can easily approach someone who seems to be an expert. I’m not afraid to ask questions and ask for help anymore.

“I’m not afraid to ask questions anymore”

Also, I’ve learned a lot from the group work at Webster. At first I really hated it. I was very much a control freak. My attitude was, if the group wasn’t working well, I would do everything myself. I didn’t care if their names were on the paper and would get an A as well. As long as we got that grade, I would be happy. But now I’m just a lot sterner with communicating that “no, this is the way it’s going to work; these are your tasks, and you need to do them.” That shift came naturally at Webster. I really learned that just letting go is important. You can’t control everything, not as much as I used to wish I could. I don’t have a mantra that I say at the beginning of every morning: “Michelle, you can do this!” Or “go out and get it!” I really don’t. However, I really agree with Nelson Mandela’s statement: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” I know I got my job right after graduation, but I think it is more important to look at the hard work behind it. It was challenging, but I got through it!

Text: Laura Weijers