Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Students, meet your future selves

Main content start

In the quest for career insights, MS&E alum David Telleen-Lawton encourages MS&E students to start having conversations with their FutureSelf.

January 13, 2023 | By Lindsey Akin

Headshot of David Telleen-Lawton
David Telleen-Lawton (MS '78, BS '77) | Image courtesy of David Telleen-Lawton

Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.

That’s the guidance from David Telleen-Lawton (BS '77, MS '78), who created an opportunity by offering a workshop to MS&E students while he was back on The Farm to attend Reunion Homecoming events. "Meeting Your FutureSelf: The ABCs of Career, Discovery, & Exploration" was an interactive workshop to teach what he considers to be the fastest way to find your best, next career role: contact people in the position you think you might like to have in the future. It’s akin to traveling into your (possible) future to see how you got there and what that means for you now. Telleen-Lawton invites students to "time travel."

That lesson is already paying off for first-year MS student Daniela Rendon, who was attracted to the session because of the informality of the technique. She's already had one in-person chat that culminated with a request—and a commitment—to stay in touch, particularly as she nears graduation.

Headshot of Daniela Rendon
Daniela Rendon (current MS student) | Image courtesy of Daniela Rendon

Realizing that she had an opportunity to have a conversation while home for the Thanksgiving holiday—and as an avid reader of autobiographies from strong, successful women—Rendon reached out to a female founder in New York. After some back and forth via email, they set up a relaxed in-person discussion during that in-the-holiday-spirit period. "It was just as David said: People like to talk about themselves, and they're excited to give their opinions and advice. And since I'm in a position where I'm wanting to explore ideas because I'm not sure exactly where I want to go next, this type of conversation is perfect for me."

Their conversation also included topics pertinent to women in STEM and leadership, making it particularly empowering. Rendon cites support networks as something she considers critical to life and career success, because she’s seen firsthand how it’s already helped her and others build knowledge and trust in their own intuition—something that is increasingly valuable in a rapidly changing work environment and culture.

Rendon credits the workshop with giving her the specific skills to start her research and outreach. She worked on her introduction email during the session and spent the next week tweaking it, striking the right balance between straightforwardness and understanding. "Since I was asking for the week of Thanksgiving, it was important to me to be clear that I didn't want to intrude on family time."

Most importantly though, she says that the session gave her the impetus and validation to try. "I wouldn't have contacted people like this before the session. Even though I've heard of others doing something similar, it wasn't anyone I personally knew."

Now, with the increased confidence that comes with success, she's already reaching out to more people, encouraging others to do the same, and looking forward to the day she'll be able to pay it forward.


If you are interested in helping out our MS&E students by hosting a future career development workshop, either in person or on Zoom, please contact Lindsey Akin, Career Services Officer,