Monthly Boss Q&A ft. Jennifer Weber
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Once we care for our mental health, things like patience, time management, and motivation will stay intact.
When you hear the term "boss", what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it a business owner? Millionaire? Someone you report to at 9 am every morning? A boss by definition is a person who is in charge of a worker, group, or organization. So question is.. would I classify a mother, wife and professor as a boss? You bet your ass I would.
This month I've connected with my friend Jennifer Weber... or should I say... Professor Weber? While many of us know her as the strong, influential woman that she is showing us the ins and outs of Vegas life on IG, she's also an amazing criminal justice instructor at CSN. Now, I know I promote interviews with other business owners in these Monthly Boss Q&A's. However, every business owner learns from someone else. Every boss learns from another boss. I think spotlighting those who devote themselves to teaching the next generation is just as important.
A little back story about Jennifer: she wasn't always a criminal justice professor. Actually, she used to work in the city jail as a correction sergeant for 9 years. Jen discovered her true passion of teaching when she began to teach the Academy while at jail. So she did what any boss would do.. she went back to school, received her master's degree, and followed her dreams. Check out our interview below, and get ready to be inspired.
s: You made a huge jump from working at the city jail to going back and getting your masters to become a professor because you realized that was your passion. I think many people in any industry or situation are afraid of that “huge jump” and never make it. What are your thoughts on this and what would you say to those people?
j: I am a huge advocate of taking those jumps. So, my only advice is to just JUMP! Most people are resistant to jumping because they are afraid of failure, but I do not know of any successful person that has not failed, including myself. It is through our failures that lead us to the paths we are meant to be on. As they say, "when one door closes, another opens,” but that door to the opportunity you really want to explore will not happen if you do not close the other (taking the jump). We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Just look at all the maneuvering and changes businesses and people, in general, have made in light of the pandemic. They all made changes and took chances to stay successful... resilience. Therefore, I think it is not fair to ourselves to live a life that we do not enjoy and love, and that includes our careers. Never allow yourself the opportunity to say to yourself, “what if.” My mantra, which is tattooed on my right forearm states, "Never settle for anything less than butterflies." Meaning, if you don't get butterflies in the pit of your stomach when doing anything in your life, then what are you doing? Is change needed? I still get butterflies, after 8 years, every time I teach, even online. It is my passion, and it took some failures to get there. Jump!
s: What has becoming a professor and teaching the younger generation taught you about yourself?
j: That although I may have more life experience or maybe more education than most of my students, I am for sure not the know all, be all. Sure, I am the professor and they are the students, but I have learned to listen and even learn from my students. Over the 8 years of teaching in a college setting, I have learned that each student comes from a different background or has had a different experience than me, when it comes to the criminal justice system. We have books that give us general information, but real-life experiences give the truth on the integrity and validity of the system. Nothing is by the book... it is purely the foundation. The old way of teaching, when what the professor said was what it is and the student just listens, is no longer. To have real discussions about real life, as it pertains to the justice system, is where true learning starts, for me and my students... no matter the level of age or life experience.
s: What challenges have you faced teaching during the pandemic? Do you have any advice for students and other professors? Or anyone working from home for that matter?
j: I believe the main challenge for most of us, including myself, is our mental health during the pandemic. Mental health has been a real issue, and is the stem of any challenges during the pandemic. Although there has been some awareness brought to this issue, I do not think it has been enough. We can talk about the challenges that come with mental health issues, like patience, time management and motivation,
but are we giving solutions? The advice I have for anyone that is working or schooling at home or even schooling their young children at home, is to set schedules, just like you would have in your pre-pandemic days. Set your alarm to wake up at a certain time, get dressed and start work or school like you would if you were going to the office or school. Eat lunch and break like you would at work or school. Keep everything the same. The only difference is it is at home. However, the most important thing is to KEEP MOVING! If you are not an exercise guru, then just take a walk around the block. Sit on the living room floor and stretch. Moving our bodies constantly works in conjunction with maintaining our mental health. Once we care for our mental health, things like patience, time management and motivation will stay intact and make working and schooling from home a little easier.
s: I’d like to hear ways that you engage students because I think this could be helpful in any industry.
j: Respect comes first. You have to have respect for yourself, because if you don't, then how can you respect anyone else. If there is no basic foundation of mutual respect, successful engagement is not possible. Next, listening. We tend to hear our employees, clients, students, etc., but are we listening? Or do we tend to let our ego get in the way? Listen and learn from each other. Therefore, communication is also key. Making communication a priority, on both ends, leads to success as a unit. I always tell my students that I am not a mind reader. If there is something you need or you are not clear on, let me know, and I will do the same. I am always making sure the communication lines stay open, even in my online classes. If we have to Facetime, then let's FaceTime. Lastly, accountability! Holding people accountable is essential to successful engagement. Again, egos have to be set aside. Genuinely holding people accountable teaches them to hold themselves accountable. We always like to point fingers at everyone and everything but ourselves. I teach my students to hold themselves accountable and it works. Accountability is key.
s: Where do you stand on the argument that someone doesn’t need a college degree to become successful?
j: I do not believe that someone specifically needs a college degree to become successful. We have many successful people that have either dropped out of college or even high school; Bill Gates, Ryan Seacrest and Mark Whalberg to name just 3 out of the very many. However, what I believe in 100 percent, is that you make yourself as indispensable as possible, whatever that may look like for you. It can be through consistent training, education, experience, etc. For me, my indispensability is through my education and experience. The bottom line is never get complacent, always keep making moves.
s: What changes do you feel we need to see in our economy to better support students’ education and career paths?
j: We can easily talk about more financial support. Even more recent topics on free education or even student loan forgiveness reflects support and success, economically. However, I believe having a general and basic human support system is what is needed. Because if you do not have people supporting you and in your corner, how can the economical component work? You can give a student a scholarship, which is economically supporting that student's success and future career path, per se. However, that is not enough. I have seen a lot of my students come in my class not having any support from their family, friends or even the community, in general. They have financial and economical support, but no human support. We cannot just throw our young adults at the wayside. We need to notice them, listen to them and support them. They are the future of our country, in all capacities, so why not invest in them more, personally? This is sustainability 101. Supporting and believing in them is all they need for them to start believing in themselves. Once they start believing in themselves, they will become self-advocates and fight for their own success in life... believe me, I have seen it many times throughout my college teaching career. Once you start believing in yourself, that is when the magic starts, for all of us.
And I'm going to leave it on that note because I don't believe anything else needs to be said. For more inspirational insight from Jennifer, check out her Instagram @thedesiredgurl.