Allison McWilliams: Q &A about ‘Five for Your First Five’

Allison McWilliams is assistant vice president of mentoring and alumni personal and career development in the Office of Personal & Career Development.  She writes occasional articles for Inside WFU.  Inside WFU interviewed her, recently, about her new book, “Five for Your First Five.”

Allison McWilliams

Congratulations on your new book “Five for Your First Five.” How would you describe the book?

This book describes the five key competency areas that we believe all young adults should master in their first five years after college: Do the Work; Build a Life; Create Community; Practice Reflection; and, Own What’s Next. I wrote it based on years of working with students and young adults as they make this transition from college to life after college, to help them to think about the choices and decisions they are making and how these impact their lives and careers.

What prompted you to write the book?

Over the past seven years we have been developing tools and resources to support Wake Forest students and young alumni, which resulted in the creation of the Alumni Personal & Career Development Center within the Office of Personal & Career Development this past spring. One of the programs that we lead is Young Alumni Mentoring Groups, which are facilitated, small-group discussions. Over time, we created a loose curriculum for those conversations, which formed the basis for the book. So, on the one hand it was a way to put all of that content into one place, so that we can use it with our programs. But we also wanted it to be a tool that any young professional could pick up and use, whether they are part of our programs or not. It’s an answer to those young professionals who have said to me over the years, “Where is the book on this stuff?” Well, here it is.

Do you see it as a helpful read for faculty and staff, as well as students?  Might it also be of interest to parents of college students or those headed to college?

 I definitely hope so! My other hat is to lead the Mentoring Resource Center, and there is a lot in this book about the importance of seeking out and developing relationships with mentors and wise counselors. So, I hope that faculty, staff, parents, and others use it as a resource to support those sorts of intentional, reflective conversations. And, I think that anyone who is not in that young adult age-group can learn a lot about their struggles and challenges. And, as I say in the book, these five areas are the areas that I am working on, still. So, I hope others will pick it up and find something to learn and apply, as well.

How will this book be used in the Office of Personal & Career Development?

We begin to use it with our mentoring programs in September, and are planning other workshops, book discussions, webinars and other opportunities to put it into use. First and foremost, the book was written as a tool to be used with our programs, and we intend, as we say in the first chapter, to do the work.