University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ten Things You’ve Gotta Know, From an L&S Alum

Martin A. Preizler (BS, Sociology, 1966; MS, Public Policy & Administration, 1986) worked for 47 years in government, non-profit and for-profit organizations. He’s got some great advice for Letters & Science students:

  1. Make your own choices. Consider what others tell you, but do what makes you happy, challenges you and allows you to pursue your dreams and ambitions. Don’t let others discourage and dissuade you.
  2. Commit to lifelong learning. Getting your diploma is not the end of the journey – it’s a significant milestone. To compete and succeed, you’ll need to continue building skills and (probably) certifications related to your chosen profession. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and build your resume.
  3. Make the most of your liberal arts education. Your Letters & Science degree gives you a unique advantage and perspective to critically evaluate the world around you. Exposure to science, art, history, languages, philosophy, and much more is the best preparation for succeeding in work and in life. This broad understanding is the lens you will use to make choices and contributions in your profession, family and community.
  4. Develop your teamwork skills. The ability to effectively collaborate with colleagues, usually in a team, is an essential critical skill for success in any profession.
  5. Practice communication. Hone your speaking and writing skills. If you can’t persuade others of your point of view, your great ideas will end up in a bucket of unknown and unrealized possibilities. Careful listening is also an essential part of effective communication. It takes practice to know what someone is really trying to tell you.
  6. Value your own worth. You know what you excel at and love to do. Don’t let others devalue you. Have confidence in your knowledge and experience and know that you are capable of accomplishing many great things. Volunteer, step forward and say to yourself, “I can do this. In fact, I have a better idea.”
  7. Value the ideas of others. Embrace, honor, and celebrate people from other places – people who dress differently, speak a language you don’t comprehend, have different skin color. Travel and work in other countries and cultures if you can. Your life will be enormously enriched (you’ll eat good food, too). And you’ll gain a worldwide network of supportive colleagues and friends.

    Martin with Sasha (rocking a Jump Around collar)
  8. Be trustworthy. We are imperfect human beings pursuing perfection. Hold yourself accountable and be reliable so people can depend upon you.
  9. Failure is OK. You will fail at many things. Everyone fails – how many times did Edison fail before the lightbulb glowed? Recognize, understand and learn from failure.
  10. Be happy. The purpose of life is happiness. We find pleasure and joy in many ways, but the most gratifying is doing something good for others. Use your experience and education to accomplish that in your life and you’ll be peaceful and happy.