5 tips for success in life from Panther alumni


Every year, hundreds of alumni journey back to FIU in celebration of Panther Alumni Week, where they reconnect with their peers and visit classrooms to share their success stories and career advice with current students.

This year’s PAW, which takes place Feb. 1-5, will feature a virtual networking meet up; open classrooms for alumni to visit; a “Dining with 12 Panthers” professional development series; and more.

In preparation for PAW, three alumni speakers shared with FIU News some of their best tips and tricks for success in life. Here’s what they had to say:

Students hear from professionals in the fields of public health and social work during a panel at last year's PAW.

Students hear from professionals in the fields of public health and social work during a panel at last year’s PAW.

1. Understand your goals

Set goals for where you want to be in five, 10 and 20 years, and write them down.

“That’s extremely difficult at this point in life, and a lot of people think they’re invincible,” said alumnus Jorge Garcia ’93, president and CEO of the management-consulting firm ODM Performance Solutions, Inc.

“Understanding these kinds of things is important because you want to understand the incremental steps you need to take to achieve that goal,” Garcia said.

His advice: Once you’ve set a goal, find role models who have accomplished similar things and seek their mentorship. Then emulate what they’ve done in life to achieve your own success.

2. Reliability and positivity

One of the most important things anyone can do to advance their career is to stay positive and give it your all, Garcia said.

People who show up on time every day with a positive attitude, whose work exceeds expectations and who constantly seek to learn and improve their skills are the ones who stand out to employers, because of their reliability.

“The people that ‘do’ are the people that get promotions,” Garcia said. “People cannot see the complaining, the rolling of the eyes, the not wanting to do things. You have to understand what looks negative to people and eliminate that from your behavior.

3. Your “credit score”

Equally important to always doing your best work is giving credit to others where it’s due—your “credit score,” as alumna Cindy Caldwell ’02, an instructional supervisor in Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Office of Human Capital Management, calls it.

“Don’t forget to share the spotlight. A candle loses nothing by lighting another,” Caldwell said, adding that giving plenty of credit to everyone involved in a successful project, product or event could help build lasting relationships in the workplace.

“Their success is your success.”

4. Just say yes

Try to take on new tasks that require you to learn.

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, once said: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity, and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes and learn how to do it later.”

“Oftentimes, when I am challenged with new projects and the fear of failure makes its way to my brain, I stop and reflect on the dozens of other projects I thought sure I would fail at,” Caldwell said. “But after rolling up my sleeves, doing some serious leg work and consulting with my office ‘thought partners,’ I shocked myself at what I was able to accomplish.”

5. Pay it forward

“Don’t be afraid to give back to things that are important to you,” said alumnus Daniel Farmer ’74, a tax problem specialist who works with The Accounting and Tax Company.

Farmer remains involved at the university because, as an alumnus, giving back to FIU is important to him personally. He hopes in doing so, current students will be able to find the same success he did during his time at the university.

But he advises against spreading yourself too thin when volunteering or donating. Rather than giving a little to many causes, find one that is important to you and focus your energy on that.


Panther Alumni Week begins on Monday, Feb. 1. For more information on guest speakers and to register for PAW events, click here.