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Career Zone

Career Zone is a monthly career column written for Drexel alumni by Julia Levy '93. Julia is a strategic communications and staffing leader with experience in corporate communications, brand management and recruiting. Find out more about Julia below.

In the podcast below, find out more about Career Zone directly from Julia:

Alumni are encouraged to send comments, questions or suggestions for future column topics to

Learn Lessons from Olympic Athletes
That Can Help Your Career
February 2014

Over the last ten days I have been following the Olympic games in Sochi and have been inspired by many of the athletes in these Olympic games and of those past—their personal stories, the challenges of the weather, their persistence and their acts of triumph. It made me think about the lessons that any person can take away from watching the games and how they might be able to help your career.

Swimming great Mark Spitz once said, "If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail." Preparation is key to career success. Do you have weekly meetings with your manager or team? Do you come to those meetings prepared with a set agenda? When you are going to interview with a company, do you research the company or come to the interview with a list of questions to ask the interview team? Taking the time each day and each week to plan ahead can set you apart and help you be a more productive asset to your organization.

Sometimes no matter how prepared you are for an interview or the workday, you wind up blowing it. Carrie Johnson a two time Olympic kayaker said, "Failing in life is inevitable—staying down is optional." Men's figure skater, Jeremy Abbott after his hard fall on the ice comes to mind as an example of someone who did not chose to stay down. While attempting a quadruple toe loop, he took a hard fall, he could have skated off the ice, but instead he got up and finished his program. He was given a standing ovation afterward. It's easy to feel deflated after you come out of a meeting where you did not have all the answers on hand, or did not get called back for a second interview. Don't let a mistake or missed opportunity keep you down. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn something from your situation. Take that information with you so that you can do better next time.

Even Olympic gold medalist and NBA great Michael Jordon has seen failure in his career. "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Finding your passion and fire for your career is very important. If you are not excited to go to the office every day or have no spark when you talk about the work you do, people notice. "Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It's our goal in life to find it and keep it lit," said Mary Lou Retton, medalist in gymnastics. When you have fire in your heart for your career, it shows in the quality of work that you do and in your interactions with others. Think about how you might come across in an interview if you are not happy at your current job. Will your answers to questions have a negative tone to them? Will you talk poorly of the company or your boss? If the answer is yes or if you are not interviewing but find you are miserable at work, take a close examination as to what the cause of the problem. Identify ways that you can fix the problems or come up with a game plan to make a change to a career that brings you passion so you can win a career gold medal.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life," said Muhammed Ali, gold medalist in boxing in 1980. Everyone needs to step out of their comfort zone in order to grow and stretch your skills and abilities. Take a chance on your career, volunteer for a special project or apply for a job that might be a little stretch for you. You will never know what you are capable of unless you try to be capable of more.

The Olympics will be ending soon, but the Olympic spirit will live on for generations to come. Think about your job search and your current job situation. Are you a gold medalist? Have you done all you can to prepare, train and endure the Olympic course of your career? If the answer is no, remember that it all starts with believing in yourself and your potential for gold. "You have to believe in yourself when no one else does—that makes you a winner right there." – Venus Williams, gold medalist in tennis.

Be inspired; go for gold in your career!


About the Author

Julia Levy

Julia Levy '93 has a passion for recruiting and helping find the right people for the right job. Currently, she is the Director of Talent Acquisition Infrastructure for Assurant, a Fortune 500 organization. At Assurant, she is helping to transform the recruiting function by optimizing processes, managing vendor partnerships, implementing creative tools and technologies and developing innovative talent strategies.

With over 15 years experience in Human Resources, Julia believes that job seekers need to be educated on how employers think in order to be successful in finding a job or advancing in one's career. On the flip side, employers need to think more like a job seeker in order to find the best candidates and retain them.

Professional development is an ongoing process; whether or not you're looking for a new job, there are always opportunities for growth and improvement. Julia's column will touch upon broad topics, which range from résumé writing, to networking dos and don'ts, to how the latest technology can be used to enhance your personal brand.

Previously with TIAA-CREF and MetLife, Julia had developed and implemented innovative sourcing strategies, programs and branding to acquire top talent and increase the visibility of these organizations in the marketplace. Julia has helped increase recruiting effectiveness and saved millions through the development and implementation of innovative staffing strategies and tools. In her off hours, Julia's passion for travel has taken her to lands near and far. She recently moved to Atlanta and is enjoying exploring her new home. She also loves to play on her co-ed softball team Who's On First.

Issue Archive

May 2009
Networking Debunked

June 2009
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

July 2009
How to Incorporate Social Media into Your Job Search Strategy

August 2009
Answers to Your Online Networking Questions

September 2009
Interview Types and How To Prepare

October 2009
Answers to Your Toughest Interview Questions

November 2009
How to Say Thank You

December 2009
'Tis the Season To Update Your Résumé

January 2010
Everything Above the Fold = Gold

February 2010
Company Research is Always in Fashion

March 2010
Job Loss Can Happen To Anyone

May 2010
Keeping It Together During a Job Search

June 2010
Want to Increase Your Job Search Success? Create a Personal Positioning Plan!

July 2010
Activity vs. Productivity

August 2010
Follow Up With a Dead Mouse

September 2010
To Temp or Not To Temp, That is the Question

October 2010
Attitude is Everything in Your Job Search

November 2010
Optimize Your Job Search

December 2010
'Tis the Season for Stepping Up Your Job Search

January 2011
The Most Overused Buzzwords That are Killing Your Résumé

February 2011
Shopping for a New Job at Work

March 2011
Skate to Success in Your Next Interview

May 2011
How to Negotiate Your Way to a Raise

June 2011
Stand Out on LinkedIn

July 2011
What's the Definition of Job Search Insanity?

August 2011
References, Do They Really Matter?

September 2011
Job Search on the Go!

October 2011
Oops! You Did It Again: Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make

December 2011
How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home

January 2012
Get SMART with Your Performance Review

February 2012
Job Search Netiquette

May 2012
Would You Supply Your Facebook Password During an Interview?

June 2012
How to Connect with People Using Social Media

July 2012
How to Win Over a Hiring Manager

August 2012
Going for the Gold in Your Job Search

October 2012
Keeping Politics Out Of the Job Search

November 2012
How to Survive a Career Disaster

September 2013
Creating An Exit Strategy for Career Change