Flinn Scholars reflect on Life Hack Day

April 6, 2021

By Matt Ellsworth

Earlier this year, the Flinn Scholars community gathered from their homes around Arizona and across the country for Life Hack Day—an annual career-development event conducted for the first time via videoconference. More than 70 Flinn Scholars currently attending Arizona universities spoke with Scholar alumni about topics such as choosing a career direction, networking, personal finance, and creating a work-life balance.

Below are some thoughts from Scholars who participated:

Claire Gibson
2020 Flinn Scholar
Northern Arizona University

Life Hack Day is not just about life hacks that you can take with you as you move through different stages in your career (and life!). It is also about connecting with fellow Flinn Scholars from the past and present.

Life Hack Day made me realize how big and how awesome the Flinn Scholar group is. As a Flinn Scholar, you already have amazing opportunities and support within arm’s reach, but the interactions you can participate in at Life Hack Day make the available opportunities, unique career paths, travel opportunities, and ways to give back to the Arizona community exponential.

I’m a 2020 Flinn Scholar, so this was my first Life Hack Day. All of us crowded in around our computer screens, from all over the world, but the sense of community transcended that as I made friends with current Scholars and alumni, and as we talked about how to navigate the tricky little parts of life.

One of the coolest aspects for me was that there were many workshops to choose from. Sometimes it can be daunting to find yourself in a room with people who you think are way more qualified and successful than you will ever be, but soon those feelings melt away as you realize that the entire Flinn community is here to help in every way that they can. Before this, I haven’t had a chance to engage fully with any Flinn alumni, but here I had the chance to ask questions and engage in discussion about things that are relevant and important when looking to the future.

This year, I frequented groups that centered on mental health and juggling the seemingly exhausting “work-life” balance. 2020 was a tough and unexpected year for all of us, and Life Hack Day provided me the community and resources I felt I needed to move into another semester online successfully. There is a community to help you along. Life Hack Day meets you where you are in life and will provide tools, friends, connections, and expert advice for the things they don’t teach you in school.

Chandler Chang
2019 Flinn Scholar
Arizona State University

I received one of my biggest takeaways from Flinn Scholar alum Ravi Ram’s session about finding your passion. He elaborated on how his career path was rather unorthodox and how such a path has helped him grow. I felt inspired by how he reflected on his path with such positivity and clear hindsight, and I realized that some of the apathy I have been feeling this year was because I was focusing too much on my career end goal—and not on the path there. I concluded that the best way to prepare for whatever career path I may pursue is to focus on improving the skills I am interested in and seeking internships and opportunities to improve those skills.

Networking is a crucial part of career development, and it can be incredibly intimidating to build your network from the ground up. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits the Flinn Foundation offers its Scholars is its professional network. These career events give Scholars the opportunity to speak to a wide array of successful, former Flinns who have established themselves in their career. These Flinn alumni come to these events with the purpose of connecting with current Scholars; the networking is so easy! Flinn Scholars and alumni are so diverse that everyone can easily be engaged.

When I attended this Life Hack Day, I sought much different advice and guidance than when I attended it last year. During both, however, I found my curiosities completely fulfilled and had multiple alumni who had offered to connect and talk about my professional development. Again, professional development is so hard to learn on your own. Flinn offers its Scholars a supportive and enthusiastic transition into the professional world.

Nikhil Dave
2018 Flinn Scholar
Arizona State University

Life Hack Day for me is an opportunity to connect with the roots of my college experience. To get the opportunity to see so many friendly and familiar faces, all while soaking up their mentorship and advice, is truly an experience that helps me refocus during the academic semester.

Every year, Life Hack Day reminds me of the breadth of career options that exist, exercising my creativity and encouraging me to take that next big step that I am looking forward to. Most of all, my biggest takeaway this year, as much as every other year, has been the following wise and simple words: follow your bliss. Often, your vision for the future can become convoluted in a great way, being exposed to several different disciplines and opportunities at once. But having the opportunity to learn from so many Flinn Scholar peers and alumni always reminds me that that most important aspect of my career is that I do what excites me and do it with 100% effort.

Lastly, the day always makes me look forward to the opportunity to have the same impact on future Flinn Scholars, while reminding me to enjoy every last minute that I have in college.