Coaching for “Girls on the Run, Sierras”

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A few years ago a friend asked me if I wanted to volunteer to be a coach for Girls on the Run Sierras, the Nevada/California branch of Girls on the Run International.  I just had my son and I was beginning to go back to school for my MBA, and I felt like my plate was full, but I decided to give it a shot anyway and make the time. My dad volunteered to coach all of mine and my siblings’ sports teams growing up, and I thought it would be fun to be on that side of the sport.

Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that inspires girls to be happy, healthy and confident through an experienced-based curriculum that integrates running. The program is for girls 3rd-5th grade, and 6th-8th grade, and focuses on building girls up in a team environment so that they can learn to support each other, embrace their differences, and recognize their own limitless potential. Through lessons and practice, girls learn to understand their own values at a young age, and gain confidence to make decisions for themselves that are in line with those values. They learn gratitude, compassion, and build resilience through running. At the end of the season the girls all run a 5k so they can see what all of their hard work had led them to accomplish.

“We believe that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, can change the world.”

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When I started as a coach, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a good fit because it was hard to connect with the girls as a new coach in the first few lessons, and I wondered what experience I had that would actually make a difference for them. Over time we built up a relationship as I learned more about each individual girl. I learned about their dreams, their home life, things that happen at school, and concerns they had about friends and relationships. As I got more and more into coaching, I was so engaged because I felt like I was actually making a difference. I didn’t have any life-changing wisdom for them, but just being there was what mattered. Having a coach who comes to practice everyday and shows them that they are important to the team, and is there for them when they need to talk; that is what they needed.

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This organization is so inspiring as they work every season to teach girls self-reliance, strength, and values. Everything they do revolves around the idea that they can do whatever they put their minds to and are willing to work for, and that girls should build each other up rather than tear each other down. Having girls experience this kind of support system before they hit middle school leads them to have confidence and a growth mindset, which can give them a major advantage in the brutal middle school years.

I learned so much about myself from volunteering and really expanded my circles of concern and awareness.  I learned that I can make time for whatever it is that I care about, and that I shouldn’t be limited to caring about the things that only effect me or are visible to me. Although I remember how tough it was in those years as a girl, helping young girls going through the same struggles just wasn’t on my radar. Doing something that I normally wouldn’t do led me to have this life-changing experience that I will always value. Those girls are always on my mind, and when I see them continuing to succeed with the principles they learned through Girls on the Run, I know they are going to go on to do great things.

Consider how you can help someone or an organization in your community. Even if you are not sure how to help, sometimes just being there for support or giving your time can make a big difference to someone in need. Like the values behind this organization? You can donate to Girls on the Run Sierras HERE, which supports the program and sponsors girls who don’t have the financial resources to join the program. Girls on the Run always need running buddies to volunteer to run with the girls and support them on their 5k.  If you live in Reno, head down to a Reno Aces game on May 14th, where a portion of the proceeds from every ticket benefits Girls on the Run, Sierras.

Managing Your Circle of Influence


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In our daily lives, we are surrounded by a wide range of concerns, so how do we know where to focus our time and energy? What is the difference between worrying about your fitness and worrying about third world hunger? Both are in our circle of concern, but only one is in our circle of influence.  In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about these two circles which contain our lives.

Our Circle of Concern encompasses all of the things that are important to us; that we care about. These can be personal concerns about our careers, our family, or our fitness, and can also include our global concerns such as politics, climate change and the state of the economy. In other words, these are all of the things that we care about and are concerned about.

Our Circle of Influence includes the things that we care about, but have control over. These are the things that we can actually do something about, and many times we are the only ones who can make a change over these concerns in our lives. Worries that are outside of the circle of influence are things that we might care about, but we don’t have control over.

Knowing what circle that our concerns belong in helps us to prioritize the things that we can truly influence so that we can focus our effort where it has the most impact. It can be overwhelming to try and solve all of our problems and that feeling can push people away from solving any of them, leaving them feeling like their life is not in their control. They begin to blame outside sources and feel victimized. This leads to negative thinking and causes our circle of influence to shrink.

Many times we don’t put things in our circle of influence because we underestimate ourselves and the control we have over certain situations when in reality, we do. On the other side, we put things in our circle of concern rather than in our circle of influence because we don’t feel that as an individual, we can make a real difference.

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Even further inside lies our Circle of Commitment. “This represents the area within your Circle of Influence where you are intentionally putting your time and energy (whether you do so for 10 minutes or the next year). This circle symbolizes the difference between the statements “I can” and “I will.”

“The problems all of us face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past, or situational realities).” – Stephen R. Covey

Rather than wasting our time working towards something we have no control or influence over, we should focus first on the things that we can change that have the greatest impact on us and then break it down to the things that we will do. When this happens, we realize that we have more control over our lives that we previously may have thought and thus, our circle of influence expands. Also, our circle of concern is widened because we start to realize that maybe we can learn to have some influence over the more challenging things that we care about.

“The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different to effect positive change in what’s out there — I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be a more creative, I can be more cooperative.” – Stephen R. Covey

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try and think about the tasks you can tackle that you have real control over.

Try to recognize things that are weighing on your mind or making your life feel chaotic which are outside of your circle of influence. Personal development is about investing your time in ways that make you a better person on many levels, and if you can identify the things that you have influence over, you can make real changes and realize that you probably have more control than you think you do.

Branding a Healthy Lifestyle in Reno: RAWBRY

Getting healthy is something everyone has on their mind at some point, if not all the time, and now businesses are popping up everywhere that help make a healthy lifestyle more convenient, more attainable, and more desirable. Some businesses are getting it right when it comes to their branding and customer relations aspect of healthy living by creating a culture where you are not a one-time shopper, but become a part of their lifestyle and community. This creates a whole experience for customers and allows them to be part of a group that values a healthy lifestyle.

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I had the chance to talk with Brianna Bullentini, who is the founder of RAWBRY and a Reno native.  Located in the Basement in Reno, RAWBRY (Raw + Robbery = RAWBRY) is a cold-pressed juice bar aimed at helping you “steal” back your health and change your lifestyle. When you visit their bar, you will see a variety of juices, shots, smoothies and waters all crafted with a remedy, a reason, and a clever name.   Their business values are inspiring and their successful branding strategy along with the experience they create for their customers is what sets them apart from your typical juice bar.

Getting Started:

Brianna was working as a designer for a firm in New York looking at juice bars trying to find their niche. She kept noticing holes in the market as most of the businesses were aimed at the “green and granola” lifestyle, but leaving out a whole group of demographics by doing so. She wanted people who are looking for a healthy lifestyle, but also those who like to have a beer sometimes. She left the security of her job in New York, started looking for investors for her business, and found herself back in Reno. “I was living in Vegas for a while and constantly coming home to Reno. I was seeing a pulse, a contagious energy of entrepreneurship happening.”

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After having many doors being slammed on her idea, she revamped her business plan. Rather than having a traditional business plan for RAWBRY, she created a “business deck” which was an imagery based guide to what her business was going to look and feel like. Instead of “here’s my plan” it became, “here is the packet of this dream”. She presented it to over 100 people with access to capital and ended up teaming up with two separate investors, and found the designer for the old post office in downtown Reno, which was being transformed into the Basement.

Branding and social media:

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What is particularly impressive about her business journey was her ability to create a loyal community around the lifestyle and feel of her business before she even sold one juice. She started by recruiting brand ambassadors who could represent her product and clothing around town. They were people who were not invested in the company and gave their unbiased feedback.  She owes much of her branding success to social media. “Branding is your presence. It put an emphasis on your look, narrative and your personality. You have to have an ethos that is different than the next guy and own it. Own your niche; your product doesn’t have to be something for everyone.”

Values and culture:

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RAWBRY is about having a no fear attitude. Just as a robber would be fearless, focused and live for the thrill and adrenaline, whether that thrill is the weekend or a business venture. Health comes first in their values and making it convenient is important to their success. Want to take the first steps on a journey to a healthier lifestyle? If you want to jump right in, you can choose a 3 or 5-day cleanse. Or you can start with some of their starter juices like “WuTang” that is not as “green” as some of the other juices and has a cushier flavor. “Replace a meal with a juice and experiment with eliminations in your diet. It is not about depriving yourself of anything, but about providing yourself with an abundance of nutrients rather than depleting them.” RAWBRY also has a cleansing coaching option if you need support and information.

Reno Renovation:

Brianna is involved in city planning for Reno and hopes that RAWBRY is a brand that can be identified as a kick-starter for other local businesses. The feel of the business and the space was hard to find in Reno before RAWBRY, and she hopes that it can be an ignitor of Reno becoming a whole new place. Future plans for RAWBRY include expanding locations and representing Reno in a positive light.

Owning a Business:

Entrepreneurship is something many people dream of. After the success of RAWBRY and other ventures, Brianna says, “Don’t be scared. Go in blind…don’t look left or right, and don’t worry about what the next guy is doing. There are going to be naysayers, but just go with your gut!” She also advises not to hold yourself back because you don’t have all of the answers yourself. Look to other people who are experts in the areas that you are not, and partner with people who can fill those gaps. “You have to be able to put up with the bad days. It’s all firefighting; at first you get frustrated at all of the fires, but eventually, you know the fires are going to be there, so don’t let it throw you off. Put them out and carry on.”

“You build up a resilience and train yourself that it is not all a walk in the park, but bad days are a part of growth.”

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RAWBRY has found a way to make getting healthy trendy, fun, and convenient. Their customers are a loyal group who identify with the values and support the culture of the brand that Brianna has created. Head to the Basement to check out RAWBRY and other fun and unique new businesses in town. Their website warns that RAWBRY is an addiction, and their products really do speak for themselves.

See Brianna’s Tedx talk HERE!

The Power of Presence


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Life is available only in the here and now, so why are we constantly distracted and obsessing over things that are out of our control? A lot of the time, people are caught up in their fears, worries, regrets, and their anger, and in doing so they forget to be present. We live in a world of multitasking, where our thoughts and feelings are fleeting with each passing moment. It has become common to be totally unaware of our surroundings where we space out while driving somewhere familiar or go through a conversation without absorbing any of it. Consciously being more present and mindful in what you are doing can increase your learning, strengthen your relationships and help us to be more grateful for what we have in our lives.

Heres are some of the benefits that come from being present:


When you are present, you are not forming responses in your head or analyzing what someone else just said, you are simply listening with your full attention directed towards that person. You can enjoy the interaction and it will help you to be more comfortable with your body language. Others can tell when you are not fully engaged in a conversation. Having your phone out during a conversation or the television on is a huge distraction and sends a message to the other person that you are not fully interested in their company and in what they have to say. Being present will help with your professional relationships, friendships, personal relationships and your relationship with yourself.


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Being more present in your every day life helps you to decrease the amount of time you spend analyzing situations and worrying about things that are out of your control. You can focus on the things that are real in your life at this very moment such as the people around you, nature, and all of the things that you see and do that you are grateful for that maybe you don’t fully observe on a daily basis. “If your kid interrupts you, you can stress out because you have other things to worry about and now your kid is adding to your worries or interrupting your calm. Or you can be present, and there is then only you and the child. You can appreciate that child for who she is, and be grateful you have this moment with her.” (


Being present allows you to be centered and let go of future or past scenarios by focusing on what is real and now. You can stop overthinking the things that may happen and instead make a real plan on how to tackle what is ahead of you.

How to be present: Being more present takes practice. Most people don’t learn to be present because they don’t practice, not because it is hard to do. The more you practice, the more it will become natural for you.

  • Take a deep breath and be conscious of what is happening to you right now. Slowly release your breath, as this creates a relaxation response. Meditation is a great way to practice being present. There are many benefits to meditation and there are apps that can help you get started such as the Mindfulness App and Headspace. “Be joyful in whatever you’re doing, grateful that you’re able to do that task, and fully appreciate every little movement and tactile sensation of the task. You’ll learn that anything can be an amazing experience, anything can be a miracle.”


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  • Notice other people’s presence. When you are more aware of being present, you will notice when other people are not and will realize how it feels when you are talking and someone doesn’t have the courtesy to be fully listening. It feels rude and disrespectful, and we all do it. Especially when our cell phones are involved. Break the habit. Put your phone away.


  • Let go of what you can’t control. Whatever is not happening in the moment, let it go. We have no control over the past, the future is not guaranteed, the only time that we have any power over is right now.

The act of being present can help you take control of your world and how you experience it. Take 5 minutes today, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, to practice being mindful, present, and aware of what is happening to you at that very moment. In doing so, try and express gratitude towards your situation, no matter how difficult it may seem. If you find this helpful, please share the idea with someone who it might help.

Facing My Fears at the Great Barrier Reef

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If there is one thing I am afraid of, it is swimming in the ocean. I love the ocean, but the idea of something lurking beneath me in an environment where I have zero control over what could happen is pretty terrifying.  My husband, Derek, is a major adventure seeker and has wanted to go scuba diving together ever since we met 12 years ago. He is a certified diver and has always been convinced that I would love to be submerged with a limited amount of oxygen in the ocean with sharks swimming around me. We have been on countless adventures together, and I know that is one of the reasons why our relationship is so strong.

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Recently, I took a trip to Sydney, Australia with a study abroad program through the University of Nevada, Reno. I have been on a quest this year to conquer as many of my fears as possible and going on the trip itself along with traveling alone were some of those fears. When my classes ended, Derek met me in Sydney to spend a week-long vacation together in Australia. I was in charge of planning our week together, so I arranged for us to fly to Cairns where we could scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.  Before I knew it we were suited up with our gear and (before I had a chance to back out), we were jumping off of the back of the boat into the open ocean. Everything about it felt so wrong to me, especially breathing underwater. I experienced my first panic attack about two feet below the surface of the water, which looking back now is maybe a little funny but at the time I was certain that I was dying. There are no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety that I felt trying to hold it together under the water that day. I wanted to quit, to give up, and more so than I have ever wanted to quit anything because of the panic. Somehow, eventually, I persevered through my anxiety, pulled myself down the rope deeper into the water, and had the most unreal, beautiful, and terrifying experience that I have ever had.

“Maybe your will is strong enough to clear emotional hurdles without flinching; but odds are, you’re at least a little familiar with that nagging inner voice that says, “Go back. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it.” – Lori Deschene

It was so worth it! It was never comfortable for me, not for one second, but I am so happy that I didn’t give up and I am immensely grateful for having the opportunity to even have this experience.  We swam amongst some of the most picturesque coral reefs, saw fish and sea life that I have never even seen before, and yes, there were sharks. The one thing that sticks out to me is that there were colors that I have never even seen before. It was just so unexpected because I feel like I have seen them all and then we see these coral reefs that look like nothing I could compare them to, the whole place looked photoshopped, and I would have never experienced any of that if I had played it safe.

I had all of the power to avoid the whole scuba diving option. I wouldn’t have had to worry about all of the “what-if” scenarios, would have avoided a panic attack, and would have been comfortable doing something else where I knew I was safe. “What’s comfortable might feel safe, but I’ve found that, when I know change is needed, it’s a bigger risk to stay put than it is to make a change.” I had faced so many fears up until this point, and I didn’t want to look back and always regret not taking the chance. Every new experience, especially involving fear, creates feelings of discomfort. It is pushing through the discomfort that brings real change.

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This one event had such a profound impact on my personal development journey. It wasn’t about scuba diving, or the ocean; it was about being afraid of something and going out of my way to overcome it. That accomplishment makes you stronger and the more you put yourself in those situations, you build character and become resilient. Great stories almost always come from experiences when you faced your fears, not when you played it safe. Do something today that scares you. Make the phone call, sign up for the class, jump out of the plane, whatever it is…You can do it!

An Entrepreneur’s Perspective: The Depot, Reno

Renovation of the Depot

Walk into the Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery and you will see a little bit of Reno history with a modern vibe, an unbelievable building transformation, and a pioneering business for Reno’s redevelopment efforts.  The Depot opened on New Year’s Eve of 2014 and has been thriving as Reno’s only craft brewery, distillery and restaurant all-in-one ever since. “They join others in the Fourth Street area who hope to gentrify another area of Reno like Midtown.”  Chris Shanks, a Reno native, is one of the owners of the Depot, a co-owner of Louis’ Basque Corner, and also works as commercial real estate agent. Chris and his partners took on a huge renovation in order to restore a century old building, and developed something unique and welcoming in a struggling area of town. See some incredible before-and-after pictures here.

Chris and his business partner, Brandon Wright, used to brew beer together when they were roommates in college at the University of Nevada, Reno. Brandon continued his education for brewing at the World Brewing Institute, while Chris began working in commercial real estate after college. Together they became the perfect team to reunite with a new business idea for Reno.

Here is my Q&A with Chris Shanks as he gives us some insight on starting a business and what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the Biggest Little City.

How did you find the right location?

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We needed to find something that was big enough for what we wanted to do, and the right location was key to our business. Next to Louis’ was a three-story brick building built in 1910, which originally served as the headquarters for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway. When the owners agreed to sell the building, the Depot was born. The name was a no-brainer; it was simple and gave us an instant brand.


“Reno, especially in this area of town, still has a stigma that you have to fight every day. Whether it is crime, homelessness, or something else, it is all more visible in this location. When you are on the edges of the developed areas, you take on that risk but you can also find less expensive real estate.  This area gave us a chance to reclaim some of Reno, and work with the existing architecture of a historic building.”

The Depot is one of three businesses that Chris is involved with. Where does he find his motivation?

It is my personality; to always be busy. I love having a project of my own to motivate myself, and working for someone else and meeting their goals just is not my personality. Being an business owner, you have good days and bad days, but you are pursuing your own path. It is rewarding, satisfying, and stressful. A lot of people don’t realize what it really is. There is beauty in working for a company too. Without having to worry about all of the details of running a business, many jobs allow you to make those entrepreneurial-like decisions and to be expressive as a manager. It just depends on your personality. My path is a product of the job market that my generation entered.


“Every recession brings an uptick of entrepreneurs. My passion wasn’t available so I went my own route.”


What does Chris do for his own personal development?

I keep an open mind. I stay educated because continuous learning and understanding different points of view can show you better ways to do things. There is always new information out there, never think that you are always right. People get stuck in a trap of being closed-minded and it keeps them from advancing in so many ways.

Look them up on Yelp and you will find a flood of five star reviews, but how do they utilize social media to their advantage in such a volatile industry?

We may have 300+ customers on a daily basis, and you have to be great 100% of the time, or you face negative reviews. There is a learning curve when it comes to turning it all off when you come home but you have to look at the responses and determine which ones are really valid. If it is something actionable that be can amended, then we will apologize and incentivize them to give us another chance to do it right. We don’t want to respond to every complaint on the internet for various reasons, but we want to respond to the ones that are a reflection of our business and something that we can use to do better.

What does he hope to see in Reno in the next few years?
Responsible growth. Growing with reckless abandon with a lot of speculation in mind is what led to the last recession. We should grow for the sake of need instead of building a huge supply in hopes of finding the demand. I hope to see projects that better our community, clean up downtown and make Reno a safe, clean place to live.


Chris’s advice for entrepreneurs:

Do what allows you to have a work-life balance. Happiness doesn’t have to be egocentric titltes where you own your own corporation. Don’t do something and then hope that it makes you happy. Do something that makes you happy and hope that it becomes something that you can make a living out of. The hard work is worth it, and doing something you like makes the hard work worthwhile. Try and identify niches where the business you are getting into isn’t dominated by larger corporations with economies of scale where they can out-compete you every time.

“Don’t’ just jump into the pool; understand the waters, and what might live in them.”


The next time you are looking for something unique and delicious in Reno, head to the Depot. If you have time, try and schedule a brewery tour. I promise, you will not be disappointed with the impressive forged copper and steel distillery, and friendliness of the staff.  The transformation of the building alone is enough to pay a visit to somewhere that is the only one of its kind in downtown Reno. Supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs is so important to the growth and development of your hometown. Check out the Depot for lunch, dinner  or weekend brunch today! Come for the food and atmosphere, and stay for their award winning craft beer and cocktails.


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Using Your Study Abroad to Boost Your Resumé

There are countless benefits of taking a year, semester, or even a week to study abroad during college. It is one of the best things you can do for personal development as you are thrown out of your comfort zone into the unknown to experience another culture with new people. Although many students enter the program feeling anxious and uncertain about the situation, most students describe their experience abroad as “life-changing”. Students display initiative by committing to a program that will require them to travel alone in a different culture with people they just met. They develop resilience to ambiguity and an ability to understand the world from different perspectives.

Beyond the benefits for one’s personal life, studying abroad helps students develop valuable job skills such as language proficiency, confidence, collaboration, and communication skills. “If you’re traveling alone, you’ll gain self-sufficiency and learn how to think on your feet. On the other hand, if you’re traveling as a group, you’ll learn how to hear the voices of others and hone your teamwork skills.” (GoAbroad). 80% of study abroad students reported that studying abroad allowed them to adapt better to diverse work environments. This opportunity opens so many doors for your personal and professional life while allowing you to try something out of your comfort zone that builds tremendous independence.

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How can you add and communicate such a life changing experience to a resumé? Many employers are understanding the benefits of study abroad programs and are pleased to see it on a resume, but you need to be able to effectively and intelligently reflect on your experience and how the skills you acquired will translate to your skills for that particular job. “Through written materials or in conversations, employers need you to clearly and thoughtfully convey how your study-abroad experience has prepared you to be a strong candidate for their organization.” (University of Virginia).

Here are a few ways that you may have benefitted from a study abroad program that may translate to employers as to how it will benefit their business:

  • Develop an understanding of global issues in your industry.
  • Acquire the ability to be adaptable to new environments with ambiguous situations.
  • Solve problems on your own or in a group by applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar situations.
  • Understand business situations from different perspectives.


To include your study abroad experience on a resumé, you can list the program and institution under the “Education” section of your resumé or list it under coursework if it is related to your job search. Alternatively, you could include it in the “Related Experience” section, and if you have multiple study abroad trips, you should add an “International Experience” or “Travel” section to your resume and describe projects or work experience that you may have had while you were abroad that would relate to the job you are applying for. “Think back on your trip and determine who would be good for you to ask to be a reference: a teacher from the country in which you studied, host family members, and an overseeing faculty member from your home school are just a few possibilities. Gather those references soon after having your study abroad trip, while the experience is fresh in everybody’s mind.” (Salisbury University)

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If you have studied abroad, you know the advantages that the experience has had on your personal development, and you should consider how your commitment to that change in your life has helped you grow as a professional as well.  Use your experience to become more marketable to employers and be prepared to articulate how it has developed you to be the best candidate for the job. Curious about study abroad programs? Check with your university to see what options they have for students. I am a 30 year old grad student with two kids and thought my opportunity for study abroad was long gone. I found out the University of Nevada, Reno offered a one week study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. I organized the kids, stepped WAY out of my comfort zone, and although it was only a week long, it was one of the most beneficial and FUN experiences of my life