Simply put, today’s #RealLifeWonderWoman helps people find success. Michelle Schmitz is the Executive Director of the St. Cloud State University Career Center, and is energized by her work.
” To have the opportunity to work in an environment where learning and growing is encouraged and inspired is something that fulfills me more than I ever realized…I am a natural connector so when I have the opportunity to bring folks together to work towards a common goal, I feel like I have hit the jackpot.”
Please read on and get to know Michelle!
KR: What brings you joy and fulfillment?
MS: This is a great question, really… it is one that I think we typically have a “coined” answer for, but when I really had to stop and reflect on this, it made me think to when I feel I am my greatest self. The interesting piece it isn’t necessarily when I am at work or at home – it just strikes me every now and again when I am in a variety of settings.
It is often in the little things in life and, more often than not, it revolves around others – for example, it is when a stranger and I strike up conversation and asks me “What do you do for work?” and I end up sharing some information that will help them in making a career decision that they have been pondering. It is when I am miles away from home and I run into someone I know and my husband says, “How do you know someone everywhere we go?” It is when I am asked to contribute my time as a committee member or participate in something of need in my church. It is when my daughters understand when my husband and I say “no” to them it is for a good reason. It is when you asked me, Kelly, to do this interview and thought, “Why on earth would Kelly think I fit the category of a Real Life Wonder Woman?”
I guess children must live what they learn because I often think of my father who passed away 4 years ago in March. I recall his greatest joy was when he could give of himself to others. Maybe he didn’t know how to say no or maybe it was his life’s purpose, who knows, but I now notice those same characteristics in me and I don’t think it is coincidence.
Also, I have said this before, but to have the opportunity to work in an environment where learning and growing is encouraged and inspired is something that fulfills me more than I ever realized. To work with a diverse group of people who each have unique backgrounds and individual stories is highly energizing for me. I am a natural connector so when I have the opportunity to bring folks together to work towards a common goal, I feel like I have hit the jackpot.
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
MS: I think I was born curious – some may call this being nosy, but I really believe that my genuine superpower is my curiosity. I can’t get enough of people’s life stories. I love seeing the interconnectedness of individuals and how we are so different, yet so similar in many ways. I love to analyze situations and learn about how individual’s decisions and life maps have weaved stories that others can learn from. My husband often teases me for asking so many others their opinions when I am faced with a decision and I tell him it is not because I am indecisive, it is because if I can get varying differences of opinions, it will shape my decision to be one that I feel is the best option for me at that time. Quirky, maybe, but it really works for me. I believe we are brought into each other’s lives for a reason, and I tend to seek out the why.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
MS: Because I have so many influential women in my life and one of my CliftonStrengths is Includer, I really don’t want to single any one woman out, but I believe whoever reads this will know who she is. This woman inspires me practically every day. She knows just what to say at the right time and doesn’t just say what I want to hear – she says what I need to hear. She is confident and wise, gentle and kind. She accepts responsibility at all times and is never afraid to admit when she has made a mistake. She believes in being genuine and authentic and doesn’t worry about what others think of her. She is a beacon of light and an inspiration to anyone who knows her. Best of all, she never forgets to add humor into her life and never takes herself too seriously.
KR: What are some of your hobbies?
MS: I enjoy reading, walking, playing volleyball, socializing with family and friends, binge watching Netflix with my daughters, and spending time out on out boat. Also, I love to travel!
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
MS: I believe this ties into my curiosity. I am fortunate to be the youngest of 8 children with a 20 year age gap between my oldest sibling and me. I would love to be able to go back in time (as an observer on the sidelines) and see how people lived throughout the decades. For example, I would really like to see what like was life in the 1930’s when my parents were born, the 1950’s when they were first married, the 60’s and 70’s, all the way up until I was born. I have vivid photos in my mind from the stories that I have been told, but I would love to compare what my perception and their reality was; the trials and tribulations; the laughter and celebrations – I think it would really shape how I live my life today even more.
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20 year-old self?
MS: Resiliency and grit are topics I am highly interested in while raising 2 young daughters myself. I look back to my 20 year-old self and I do truly wish I had the wisdom I have now, back then. I was a typical 20 year old in many ways, but I focused and dwelled on things that were not important and superficial at times and because of that, it not only affected my relationships with others, it affected my relationship with myself. I had an idea of what I “thought” life was supposed to be and because I was constantly chasing that, I never really allowed myself to let my life run the course that it was supposed to take. Thankfully, through solid relationships and strong parents who always supported and prayed for me, I became comfortable in my own skin and realized that I am right exactly where I am supposed to be. Finding gratitude and making peace with not having to be 100% in control has really been freeing.