Dr. Melva Williams is a super woman disguised in many roles. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Southern University Shreveport Louisiana, she doubles as Vice President of the Shreveport Charter Foundation while also serving as a board member for the Robinson Film Center, wife, mentor, and more.
I caught up with Dr. Melva for some much-needed girl talk about navigating work life balance and how she successfully juggles it all. We also got down to the best way to find your passion, and how she created a successful career that’s helped her skip the interview process throughout most of her career.
Keep reading to get the scoop below.
Did You Always Know Higher Ed was the Path You Wanted to Take or Did You Stumble Into It?
I didn’t expect, going into college, that I was going to be a higher ed administrator or vice president. That never was a goal. It started with people seeing something in me.
People saw my work.
To be quite honest, I’ve only actually applied for and gotten one job in my career. Everything else, I was always asked to apply for or asked to consider the position.
If you are faithful over little you will become ruler over much.
The Secret? Melva says:
Always do the stuff that nobody wants to do. I got positions because I was always the one to say “well, I’ll do it. What’s so bad about it?” I was known as the person to go to if you just wanted something done that nobody else wants to do- “Just give it to Melva.”
Always prepare yourself for the next level. You’ve got to look like, and act like, and be like where you want to be, not where you are now.
Don’t complain. Just suck it up and say thank you. Can I get two more things that yall don’t want to do? Pile it on. Give it to me. That’s been the key to my success.
I let my work speak for me.
You’re always on a job interview because your interactions with people day to day…they may go off and be at another company or somewhere else, but the impact that you make on people will not be forgotten. It will never be forgotten. So how you treat your peers, how you treat people that are subordinate to you, it is all important because one day that person could be a decision maker or on a search committee. You just never know.
Be responsive to your peers. If you are working on a group project, and someone asks you to get it done by 2pm, get it done by 1:45pm. They will later say, even for me, she gets it done.
What’s Your Advice to Women Who Feel Behind on Their Climb Toward Success?
I’m not saying be a slacker, and just go with the wind. But I think it’s important to be present in the moment. I don’t think it’s so important to have it figured all out.
The only way you’re going to be good and be known for what you’re doing is to be figuring out what you are doing now and not so much about what you’re going to be doing tomorrow or what you’re going to be doing the next day.
Sometimes, we are so focused on getting somewhere that we don’t think about where we are at this mile marker. There are important lessons that your angels are trying to share with you now. Sometimes we are stuck because we aren’t getting these lessons and we’re not listening, we’re not being present because we are so focused on tomorrow.
It’s important to be focused on today.
Set big goals but you need to become in expert in your field of what you are doing now.
I think you need a rough draft, a skeleton, a little outline but I say live a little, live in the moment, and become an expert at what you are doing now.
What’s One Beauty Essential You Can’t Live Without?
If I run out of that NARS tinted moisturizer we are in trouble. I’m talking tears. That stuff is good.
How Do You Balance Your Career + Relationship?
I’ve just taken what I have to do to stay employed as an administrator. I use the same tools. It’s literally in the iPhone.
The biggest mistake is to let it slip up on you, to realize you haven’t spent time or connected. So don’t even wait. Mark it down. “Valentine’s day, we are together.”
It doesn’t have to be some grand experience. We find happiness in doing nothing because we are going so much. Just sitting on the couch or Netflix and chill. Just the little things to find in common. Taking time to text and call throughout the day. He is like my sounding board. We are connected and using the technology we have to make it work.
As a Woman on the Move, What Practical Things Do You Do for Self Care?
I believe in breaks. As women, we work and go, go, go. And by the time we are about to snap, that’s when we are like “I’ve got to get a massage.”
For me, I have to already have my carrots in place. Little things planned that I see as my reward for pushing through the week.
I try to really relax and do things that help me disconnect. Even if it’s just binge watching movies. That’s what I do to keep me together.