Participating in a panel discussion about careers in communication.

Every so often, it’s refreshing to step away from our day-to-day work routines to interact with people with whom we don’t typically have the opportunity to interact.

I had the chance to do just that a couple of weeks ago when I returned to my undergraduate alma mater to participate in a panel discussion for students thinking of pursuing careers in communication. My fellow alumni and I spoke over the course of two class periods, with interested students filtering in and out of the room over the course of two hours.

Being interviewed by the student TV station.

In the first session, I mentioned that during my time as a student, I had been an editor on the student newspaper for five semesters, including two as editor-in-chief. As I spoke, a student nodded his head in solidarity. During the break, I learned that he was the current student newspaper editor. The insights he sought from me really made me think about work life in ways that I hadn’t before.

After the symposium, a reporter from the campus TV station interviewed me. Again, her questions made me think.

I hope the information I shared was useful to them. I know that getting my head out of my keyboard for a day was useful to me. I met new people and learned some of the ways that education had changed since I graduated. Hearing other questions from students — and other answers from fellow panelists — gave me a new perspective on what I do for a living.

Annual meetings such as those of LeadingAge, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, Argentum and the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care can serve a similar purpose — for me and for all who attend. We’re able to learn new things and glean and share best practices by attending educational sessions and mingling in the expo hall.

May we always make the most of such opportunities to be students of life.