Knowing and Telling Your Story

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By Anush Musthyala, NYU Tandon Class of 2024, Wasserman Career Ambassador

I am a sophomore studying math at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and recently attended the kick off meeting for the First Class initiative. First Class provides historically underrepresented NYU students with resources and information to assist in all aspects of their career development process. In this session, we got to hear from Sasha Massey, the Associate Director of Social Impact Programs at The Leadership Initiative. 

Sasha talks about how important it is to know yourself and your core values and how to effectively develop relationships with professionals and peers. She talks about how self-knowledge is the first step in building your leadership capacity, meaning to effectively identify your strengths and interests. More importantly, being able to share that with other people is how you build those relationships. Commonalities, common interests and passions, will always be the most important as having a shared purpose prompts further connections. 

During the program, we were introduced to the Johari Window, an introspective test designed for self-discovery. By allotting 4 parts of a paper, participants write what’s 

  1. Known by yourself and known by others
  2. Unknown to you, known to others
  3. Known to you, unknown to others
  4. Unknown to you, unknown to others

For the first panel, Sasha advised that we put it in the perspective of meeting a stranger. What do you tell them? What are the stories you tend to rely on? These questions show what your inactive responses are to these prompts and why that is the information you feel comfortable sharing. For the fourth panel, the questions involved a scenario in which you are in the future, thinking about the life you led. Who is your future self? Who is it that you want to be? We were split into breakout rooms, to reflect on our answers and to try to identify a relationship/gap between our two previous responses. 

Sasha then asked us about the remaining panels. Since panels 1 and 4 are parallels, 2 and 3 also have a similar function. For the third panel, we are asked to think about what is on our mind often, but not something we decided to share with others. We reflected on why these topics are important to us but unknown to others. The second panel focused on external impressions and really what people think of you. 

The purpose of these exercises is to really give time to pause and reflect on these topics. At the end, we were prompted to craft a 5 minute authentic story that we would want to share.  The Johari Window provides an interesting perspective on these questions. When I wrote out my Johari Window, I was able to identify what my passions really are and where I want to be 10, 20 years from now. 

The leadership initiative is housed under Student Affairs. At the leadership initiative, programs are run for students who want to further their leadership skills. They have a list of exciting programs, all designed to help you in the leadership aspect of your life. Opportunities exist within NYC, but also at NYU’s various study abroad locations. Currently, they are working on redesigning their various programs, but they still have great resources available. For more information, visit the Leadership Initiative’s website.