COLUMBUS, Miss. – Alumna Dr. Marcella McKay gave W graduates an imaginary gift--a pair of eye glasses--at the university’s 128th commencement exercises held Saturday.
“The eye glasses that I’ve given you are not rose colored glasses to make everything in your world beautiful, and they are not sun glasses to protect your eyes,” she said. “These are glasses that improve your ability to see near and far. The glasses give you vision through the eyes of your future employers.”
McKay, who serves as chief operating officer for the Mississippi Hospital Association and president and chief executive officer for the MHA Health, Research & Educational Foundation, told graduates that when they look at their near future, they can see three important areas to enhance their professional success: message, management and meaningful work.
She stressed the importance of demonstrating that you are a credible applicant, especially with the challenges of online application systems. “Have a coherent strategy to break through the noise.”
McKay added, “Be prepared—know the company where you are applying. Know what they do and how they do it. What is the culture of the organization?”
When talking about management, McKay said most employers know that the best way to predict future behavior is past behavior.
Those past behavior assets to display should include meaningful references, honors and recognition, she said. “Look carefully at the job description and display yourself as well as possible.”
“Be careful of your media trail because it provides for the employer an unfiltered version of past behaviors, priorities and friends (social and professional),” she warned. “If I am your potential employer, I want to see evidence that you use good judgment in your professional and personal life.”
McKay also encouraged graduates to find meaningful work. She said, “Find your passion or alternatively work with passion to contribute to the greater mission. Be `present’—being on ‘auto-pilot’ is a professional hazard to be avoided.”
She went on to say that no one knows what the future holds referring to Jack Uldrich’s book “Foresight 2020: A Futurist Explores the Trends Transforming Tomorrow.”
She said who could have foreseen Facebook exploding to more than 850 million members or that YouTube viewers would seize the platform to create and upload the equivalent of 200,000 full-length movies every week?
“I began this discussion by saying: We cannot say with certainty what the future holds. But we are certain that change will continue to come and technology is only getting better and faster.”
McKay said, “I encourage you to embrace the future by preparing in a very practical way to move forward toward your immediate future. Then swing the door wide to think the unthinkable and expect the unexpected.”
She concluded by urging graduates to always seek the common ground.
McKay left graduates with a quote from former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”