Young Professionals’ Voice: Making It Happen

By Devon Ryan

My 15 minutes of fame in college began when I was president of the engineering student association, UTSA IEEE. For most of my tenure, I had the pleasure of collaborating with motivated, hardworking students ” soon to be engineers. However, in several instances, when I delegated tasks to the officers”some of them would immediately come back and present me with their obstacles or excuses”on why they could not get the job done. In fact, it happened so frequently with specific individuals that I started to constantly reply by saying, “Just make it happen.” I repeated this mantra so much that the entire team decided to create a huge poster of my blown up Facebook profile picture, with the caption under it that stated, “Make It Happen.” And they displayed it in public”for everyone to see!

My tenure as this organization’s president was a great experience. I learned a great deal in terms of leadership, and what it takes to purse a common goal with a team. From the team level, all the way down to the individual level, I learned the essential qualities of what it takes to accomplish anything. You see, of the 10 officers I worked with, I noticed only 20 percent of them provided 80 percent of the results, at any given moment. I found a common denominator between those 20 percent. They all embraced the make it happen mentality.

What does the make it happen mentality entail? The key to making things happen requires a bit of confidence, but confidence alone will not get you to a destination. To arrive at a destination, you need to be moving, and you need to be moving while making the best use of your”¦time.


To make things happen requires a special appreciation of time. If you treat time with average respect, you will likely embody an average life or career. This thought was inherent to the top 20 percent of the officers, and they were always thinking ahead. They were proactive versus reactive, and I could always count on them to efficiently get the job done.

Time is the most wasted commodity in the world”because generally, people are not efficient with their time. How can you be more efficient?

For starters:

  1. Determine your professional goal, and when you would like to make it happen.
  2. Every time you are presented with a decision, ask yourself, “Does this decision get me closer to my goal?”
  3. Designate time each week to look backwards and forwards”assess whether or not you are making progress towards your ultimate goal.

Once you get a grip on your time management, dial it up a notch by leveraging”¦technology.


My top officers were extremely adaptable to new technologies.  They would not only cultivate them as tools, but would teach reluctant team members how helpful these new tools really are.

Technology was created for a reason. It can help people do more with their time. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I come across who underutilize technology. For whatever reasons, they just do not apprize the tools around them that could simplify their life!

New technology will always materialize, and it can be quite helpful. If you nurture your knowledge sooner, rather than later”you can gain an edge. But you can only tackle so much on your own. If you really want to make more things happen, you have to embrace”¦


My top 20 percent of officers was not only resourceful with technology; they also embraced people within their networks-at the same time amplifying their own abilities to get tasks accomplished. When they discovered a deficiency or weakness, they sought help from people who complemented them.

When you leverage people, you increase the distance covered, in a shorter amount of time, on your way to your destination. Imagine you are hacking down a tree”with a chisel instead of an axe. Eventually it’s going to fall down, but only after a great deal of time and effort. Now, imagine 10 people hacking down a tree. You cover more ground-faster!


I challenge you to embrace time, technology and people. Create your own, unique schedule. I assure you, special opportunities will seem to appear out of nowhere. Don’t lag behind the technology curve any longer”adapt yourself to the dynamic world around you. And you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with, so draw near to people who support and enrich you.

Make things happen! And don’t forget, time is of the essence.

Devon Ryan is IEEE-USA’s Young Professionals’ Voice columnist, and the Young Professionals Representative on the IEEE-USA Board of Directors. 

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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