Pursuing opportunities for diversification and growth By Maddie LeBlanc March 29, 2021

The Power of Knowing Your Strengths: Featuring Reilly Wiley & Collin Fink

Think about your favorite day of work. What projects were you working on? Were you receiving recognition? Were you working on a team? Asking yourself these questions can help you better understand what drives you and brings satisfaction to your role. At the root of your best days are strengths that are being used to their fullest potential, maybe even ones you never knew you had!

At Nelnet, working on teams that empower you to do what you love is a top priority. Throughout the years, we’ve seen associates and interns make strides in the company through understanding and utilizing their strengths from the CliftonStrengths® assessment. The CliftonStrengths® assessment is an hour-long assessment that asks over 170 questions specifically about your talents, thinking, and behavior. Through your response to the questions, you are assigned your Top 5 CliftonStrengths® out of a pool of 34 strengths.

The Clifton Strengths Institute and Nelnet

Through the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (the Institute), students have the opportunity to make an impact among their peers. We spoke to Reilly Wiley,a former Nelnet intern (and current Marketing Associate at Gallup), and Collin Fink, a Pathway Program intern, about their experience at the Institute and how it shaped their time at Nelnet. As student strengths coaches at the Institute, Reilly and Collin were able to mentor incoming college students to help them better understand their strengths, and how knowledge of  personal strengths can lead them to find unique value in their identity.

Get to know Reilly and her journey with strengths.

Reilly grew up in a family that incorporated the language of strengths into every conversation. Her father, having been tasked with implementing the Clifton Strengths Institute at UNL, had big dreams for creating a world where everyone knew their strengths. Once Reilly got to college, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the Institute. Reilly once dreamed about working for Gallup, and now leads marketing initiatives for CliftonStrengths® regularly in her first full-time role. At Nelnet, Reilly was encouraged by mentors such as Jessica Schumacher, who made it a priority to give her projects that utilized her strengths.

“Jessica was able to recognize what I was good at, and wanted me to be a part of roles where I was able to use my strengths. She set me up for a lot of success at Nelnet through her mentorship, leadership, guidance, and how she cared about me as a person.”

With her Top 5 CliftonStrengths® of Woo, Communication, Positivity, Adaptability, and Developer, Reilly thrived under the direction of a mentor who knew her need for daily change-of-pace while working alongside collaborative teams. She shared the main reason why she believes strengths can be so valuable.

“The biggest value in knowing your strengths is that you have a more positive outlook on yourself, the world, and your co-workers. When you’re viewing others through the lens of your strengths, there is greater opportunity for understanding and productive collaboration. Encouraging people to dive deeper into their own natural talents and have a strong sense of self-awareness will exponentially contribute to their future career and could even shift their career goals.”

Get to know Collin and his journey with strengths.

Having his Top 5 CliftonStrengths® of Responsibility, Ideation, Relator, Significance, and Harmony, Collin finds himself most driven by being able to brainstorm countless ideas and work on projects that bring value to the company. As a Pathway intern, Collin has been able to more deeply understand how he stays energized during the work day through capitalizing on his strengths. Collin shared with us the kind of conversations he has with his pathway mentors while using his ideation strength.

“My mentors give me the space to ideate. In my first rotation of the Pathway Program with Nelnet Payment Services, Jillian Walker would give me creative freedom to brainstorm with her. We would get to throw ideas back and forth a lot, and that was just more of a bucket filler to me than most things. I loved it.”

Additionally, Collin found great worth in getting involved with the Clifton Strengths Institute. He shared that it launched his success in college, as well as in his internship.

“Finding a community that cares about growth and well-being is so huge. People who not only support you, but on the same level that you support others, are ones that who truly know their strengths. Through strengths, we have this way to communicate with one another that gives us a deeper knowledge and understanding of one another. This brings depth to relationships that are different and more interesting.”

Four reasons why it’s time for you to get curious about your strengths.

  1. CliftonStrengths® give you the language to talk about yourself to others.

    Not only does CliftonStrengths® give you the vocabulary to accurately share your passions with others, it also gives you the tools to explore your emotions and problem-solve more efficiently.

  2. CliftonStrengths® equips you with the tools to pursue a career that energizes you.

    Knowing your strengths helps to pinpoint how you most naturally achieve success. Being able to communicate what energizes you and how you work best to your manager may help you receive projects that cater to your strengths.

  3. CliftonStrengths® helps you holistically understand peers and coworkers.

    How you interact with and understand others, both at work and in your personal life, is huge. Knowing other people’s strengths gives you the tools to empower others, as well as better understand the way they operate.

  4. CliftonStrengths® helps you to thrive in teams.

    When you and your teammates know one another’s strengths, greater collaboration and productivity is all but inevitable. You are able to call on individuals to participate in conversations based upon their specific strengths.

Take the Assessment

Understanding who we are gives us insight into what we love to do and how we can be engaged at work, leading to a more satisfied and energized life. Do you know your strengths? If you have never taken the CliftonStrengths® Top 5 Strengths test, check it out and see how your strengths come to life.



Maddie LeBlanc

Campus Recruiting Intern