Life after graduation offers growth, opportunity and fulfillment
August 1st, 2013 | Evangel University Alumni
Kristen Ostrem received her degrees in Marketing and Management from Evangel University in 2012. She now serves as the community life coordinator for a senior living facility in Minnesota. In this alumni blog, she shares her perspective on career and ministry after graduation.
While my first year after graduating from Evangel has had its levels of stress, ambiguity and tension, it has also had its moments of enjoyment and progress. I feel like I’m receiving graduate-level training in management and organizational leadership, not only from being in the “lab” as the manager but also as the one being led.
Can a person get a master’s degree from real life?
I began my job in September as the community life coordinator of a senior living facility. Opening an empty desk in my office with the task of developing an activities department was interesting, especially since the building was neither finished nor had tenants living there yet.
While our facility is owned and operated by an overseeing company, I have been able to witness and be part of much that occurs within the management of a start-up business: hiring employees, forming a management team, ordering supplies — all this and more. Through stumbling upon this job, I have received an unforeseen, immense educational privilege, especially since entrepreneurship is something I have always been interested in.
I could write a several-page paper on management observations, principles of leadership based on the needs of an employee, the vitality of communication throughout an organization as well as fun stories from working with the senior citizens. The creative potential and variety in my work is incredible, and I have loved working with the people who live there. This position has been an amazing fit to my personality, and I have praised the Lord on different occasions that I actually get paid for something so enjoyable. It has been a blessing I could not have thought up myself.
I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to do when graduating, and God has continued to show me that in trusting my life to His lead, He will not only “direct [my] paths” as in Proverbs 3:6 but “is able to do [so with exceeding abundance] beyond all that I ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). As we trust and delight in Him, He gives and reveals to us desires of our heart, though we may not even know what they look like. The ultimate purpose for wherever He places us is that we know Him (Acts 17:27 and John 14:3), and this has been the greatest joy and fulfillment throughout my journey.
This year, I have also gained a new perspective on volunteerism. As my job description includes volunteer coordinating, I have been amazed to see how many people are willing and interested in giving of their time to serve others. Life is about people, and when we look for ways to give out — especially through avenues we are skilled at and enjoy — both the giver and the recipient are benefited.
Along with work, my brother and I have the opportunity to be on staff with Winona State University’s Chi Alpha college ministry. This has been a humbling opportunity to be involved in students’ lives, to observe a well-run organization and to be part of a peer-like group during this post-college time of life.
I am also leading high school students at my church in fundraising and awareness efforts toward donating shoe boxes to Operation Christmas Child. This has been fun, as the Lord has given me ability to inspire vision, teamwork, and the creation of something out of nothing with these students. I not only hope they are catching the vision of potential differences that can be made through seeing opportunity — or in EU Business Department terms, “Finding a need” — and initiating efforts to “fill it, ” but also that lives all along the way are encouraged, enriched and inspired.
As I look back on all that has happened in the one year since I graduated, I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have arisen in this amount of time and for how God is helping me rise to meet each new challenge. It’s humbling how God equips us when we step into what He gives us opportunity to do, and it is awe-inspiring to grow into greater knowledge of His character, as well as who He has created us to be, through each experience. I’m excited to see what He has in store for the present and future.