Hotel Tip #1

I spend a lot of time in hotels, and not because I’m a guest. In fact, for personal travel I almost always opt for an Airbnb, though I know that will change once I’m travelling regularly for work.

I spend a lot of time in hotels because I attend a fair number of conferences and I live in a city. I also love visiting other cities. Two things work against me in these efforts; I have a terrible sense of direction and I am typically alternating water and coffee or later in the day, water and wine. That means I am constantly in search of someplace to charge my phone so I can use google maps and a bathroom.

Thankfully, hotels solve both of these travel issues. I don’t yet have loyalty to a particular family of hotels so I’ll choose whatever is convenient to pop into. I do try for a chain like Marriott, Hilton, etc. since they usually have a decent sized lobby and often, free WiFi. I aggressively try not to “look like a tourist, so I’ve never had any issues walking into a hotel and plugging in my phone or using the restroom. If you walk in like you belong there then you should be just fine. It helps that hotels see thousands of people each day. Whilst in London this week, I ran into the Ritz and l was, almost too ironically, treated to a piano performance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

Hotels are also great options for business meetings or taking interviews. Increasingly we are moving to open office spaces which means absolutely no privacy, and hotels can help alleviate the stress of having a conversation with relative anonymity.

If you’re lucky, you can also catch a free happy hour like those found in the Kimpton and Staybridge hotels. It’s a great way to meet a colleague or kill time before dinner.

This is the first of what I imagine will be many hotel tips in the months to come. Hopefully whatever I learn on the road will be helpful to others!


Late last year I accidentally got a Gallup Strengthsfinder coach. I was on the phone with a colleague and we were discussing another individual with whom we were both working. My colleague commented that knowing this other person’s strengths would help us move forward with the work. A few months prior I had competed my own assessment and pulled up the results for her. This was the second time I’ve taken the assessment (both times for work), and did not give them a second thought. I’m pretty self aware and so none of them came as a surprise.

If you haven’t taken the assessment before, you respond to a series of questions and are then provided with your top five strengths which are situated into one of four categories. Four out of my five were in one bucket- strategic planning. Upon learning this she generously offered to spend some time with me unpacking this, the root of my unhappiness, and how I could move forward. Little did I know she was a certified Gallup Coach.

I had never had a coach or a therapist before, and somehow this woman became both. I now credit her for helping get me through some pretty difficult times. She helped guide me through the Strengths Wheel, the Talent Map, and walked me through my Insight Report. Not only was it helpful to have someone to talk to, but it truly helped me understand how my strengths could be seen by others and how to leverage those to find positions that would allow me to draw upon them. By understanding how my strengths may be viewed by others, I was able to clearly articulate what wasn’t working in my professional life and try to address it. While ultimately that was unsuccessful, I knew that I had used all of the tools in my toolbox to the best of my ability.

When I was interviewing for the role I’ll begin in February, I was able to talk about these strengths. The role requires that I assist the firm’s members in understanding and tailoring research findings to their needs and develop a thorough, leading-edge understanding of industry trends and issues. Learner and intellect are two of my top five strengths, and I’m excited to be able to use them in this position.

Two out of my top five strengths in 2017 were the same as they were the first time I took the assessment several years ago, so I’m curious what will happen the next time I take it. I am forever grateful to my coach, and now friend for her time and encourage others to go through this process. It was a huge learning opportunity for me and hope that these learnings will continue to inform my personal and professional life for years to come.


I’m in my final days working at Service Year Alliance (SYA). I was the first Service Year employee since I didn’t come from one of the original three organizations that merged to form SYA. I’ve learned a lot about start-up organizations, had the opportunity to work closely with people and partner organizations that I greatly admire, and have learned so much about myself in the process. I’m grateful for all of these.

Transitions are difficult. For me they are hardest because relationships are important. However, I’ve never been fully able to break away from previous jobs. I communicate regularly with my first boss at the University of Rochester and make sure to highlight their great work whenever possible. I hosted students from The Washington Center each semester and accepted invitations for informational interviews while working at Service Year. I don’t know how I’ll continue to support SYA, but look forward to doing so in whatever ways make sense. While I did not do a year of service myself, it is the foundation of who I am as a professional and an academic.

In February, I will join the Education Advisory Board (EAB) as a director of member education. I look forward to visiting campuses across the country to lead presentations and facilitate conversations on research and best practices to EAB’s members. I’m excited to immerse myself in research and in a culture that is helping colleges be more successful in ways that are important to them. This is my first time working in the private sector and not working directly in civic and community engagement. Through EAB I will be able to expand my areas of practice and expertise, something that is immensely important to me as I think about my future. I will always be a champion for and advocate of the public purposes of higher education (and of course, national service in America).

My position at EAB will require about 80% travel so you can anticipate lots of travel stories on the blog and photos from all the campuses I’ll be visiting. In the interim, I’m taking a little break to visit my favorite rainy city across the pond. Maybe I’ll write another post from London discussing how I came to make this decision: Digging into my strengths through a Gallup certified coach and the support I’ve had throughout my job search process.