Thursday, June 28, 2012

Take me as I am, Hire me, or Leave me

My Final Thoughts

Over the past few days, I have dedicated an hour everyday to reflect upon my  graduate school experience. With graduation behind me, a new job, and a new  chapter in my life in front of me, its hard to put into words what I am feeling at this moment. However, I will do my best to give advice for  those of you who are still in grad school.

1.     Live in the moment/ have fun- Enjoy every moment of this experience. You will regret it once its over. Stay up a few minutes later to have that conversation with a classmate, take more pictures at events or outings, smile more, laugh everyday and finally, take sometime to do a little reflection.
   2.  Create your own opportunities- If a colleague asks you to be on a committee and you have time do it, go for it. If you see a need for a new initiative, create it. If you see a job posting you don’t think your qualify for, apply for it anyway, you never know.  To gain more experience volunteer in another office.  Remember  to make your time at your institution your own, no one else is going to do it for you.
3.     Network- I can’t stress this enough. Join a national organization, volunteer with them, volunteer at a conference. Ask your colleagues to connect you with their friends at other institutions, or join the student affairs community on twitter.   Here is one of my favorite quotes about networking; “Networking is an essential part of building wealth.”  -Armstrong Williams –
4.     Don’t be scared to ask for what you need- This one I’ve struggled with. I found myself the most frustrated when I didn’t ask for what I needed. Your boss or coworkers are not mind readers. The worst thing could happen is they could say no.
5.     Remember to take care of yourself- Yes, it may hard to balance school and work but don’t forget to take care of yourself.  Schedule time during the week to participate in activities that you enjoy that are not related to your work. Maybe it’s enjoying the outdoors, going to the gym, cooking, or even blogging. Whatever it is, make sure it empowers you.
  6.     Reflect- I’ve found scheduling an hour a week to reflect has helped me grow. It’s also a way to remind me of who I am as a person, who I’m grateful for and where I see myself going in the future.

As I take a look back on my journey it’s hard to believe how much I’ve grown and changed since the beginning of December. I have more confidence in myself, I  am more comfortable rolling with the punches and I’ve learned to enjoy life. Thank you so much for following me on my journey!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #25

Additional Words of Wisdom

As a reminder, with this post I am summarizing tips about the job search, interviewing, and conferences.

In my previous post, I mentioned that conferences were not for everyone, especially when certain positions are not interviewing there. While I stand by my previous statement, I do believe that you can seriously leverage your conference experience to your advantage. Specifically, if you are job searching, it may be wise to submit a program proposal for a professional development topic of the interviewers expertise. This will demonstrate a number of valuable qualities to he employer, but one must mention this to the interviewer I they  do not recognize it on the resume. Additionally, I think you would need to approach this tactfully so as not to appear gloating.

Another piece of advice relates to the role of friend and mentor. Since I was a part of a large cohort, I frequently assumed the role as a friend and confidant to those embarking on  campuses. I relied heavily on empowerment -- that's what I do with my students right? I remember one occasion where I told a friend not to sweat her on campus because I was certain given her experience, connections and rapport with  the office (and considering they had planned to hire 2 of the 3 individuals coming to campus) that she could easily be a top candidate. She ended up being turned down for the position. I felt like I did my friend a disservice by convincing her that she was an ideal candidate. As a mentor, colleague, and friend, we must ensue that we are always considering the what ifs, as well as the of courses.

Take me as I am, Leave me, or hire me- I finally graduated!

 Last Saturday I graduated! Woohoooo!! The day finally came and it was everything I expected and more. My parents and brother are local, and my sister, her girlfriend and their two dogs drove over from Tampa. it was nice to have the entire family together to celebrate my special day.   I treated myself to the morning at the salon, I got my hair and makeup done. Then started the day at my parents house with a huge Italian lunch. You know, Italian bread, cold cuts, peppers and lots of mozzarella! Yum!
We took some family pictures before it was time to head over to graduation. I've started at my cap and gown for weeks, but  it still hasn't hit me that I completed my masters until I met my classmates and saw them in their cap in gown looking fabulous. I couldn't stop taking pictures! It was amazing. The best part of the day was of course when they called my name and I got to walk across the stage. I still get chills every time I think about it.

Since last Saturday, I've been floating on cloud 9. I've been trying to find the words to express to you all what I'm feeling. My journey hasn't been easy. I failed many, many times during my 4 year journey. I went through two programs, found out I had a learning disability and self doubted myself more than I should have. But I shook it off and now I have my masters!!  But what made me cry was the message my sister wrote in her card. It reads: "Today, I am so proud of you. I'm proud of what you have accomplished in spite of the obstacles. I'm proud of the strong women you've become in the process. I'm proud that you never gave up even when you failed.  Because sometime you need to fail in order to succeed. You learned that your stronger than you thought you were, and you learn what you need to do next time, and most importantly, what not to do again." It goes on and on but she ends the card with a quote: " Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly." -Robert Kennedy-

So my advice of the day is: Don't settle for less,  go after your dreams.

I've never been more proud of myself than I am at this point in my life. Life keeps getting better.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Take Me As I am, Hire Me, or Leave Me 26

Today, I received the final bit of information to make any soon to be grad happy. Congratulations, you have passed your comprehensive exam.  Did I just read that sentence correctly? Hold up let me read that again. Congratulations you have PASSED your comprehensive exam. Yup, that’s right, I passed!

Uncontrollable tears rolled down my cheeks as I stared at the computer screen. My dream of earning a Masters degree just became surreal to me. I’ve been waiting for this moment for four years.  The road has been long and bumpy. Two programs later, a year of unemployment I have finally reached my goal. Bitter sweet.

As I graduate on Saturday, I look back and thank all of the people who told me I wouldn’t make it to this point in my life. I thank them for lighting a fire under my butt and proving them I am worthy of this degree. I also want to thank my friends, family and mentors who have cheered me along the way, who have pushed me when I wanted to give up, offered me words of inspiration and encouragement. Without them, I would have listened to the voices of those who told me I wouldn’t make it.

It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind, heart and soul into it. For the first time in my life I believe that I am exactly where I am suppose to be and my past experiences have guided me to where I will go next.

“To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #24

As I file paperwork, unpack and repack my belongings in preparation to start my new position in July, I am overwhelmed at the chaos of the past few months. I presented at ACPA, passed my comprehensive exams, graduated with a Master of Science, accepted an amazing job. Again, I will be moving across the country to start a new chapter. I cannot wait for this new beginning. I have great feelings about this next move and am already inspired by the potential of the future. Here are a few tips that I have regarding the job search process:
  • ·      Conferences are not for everyone. The C3/TPE experience is an excellent opportunity to network and conduct first and second round interviews IF there are positions that you are interested in. None of my interviews at C3 resulted in an on-campus interview. However, I didn’t interview for any positions or institutions that I was particularly excited about! Make sure you do your research ahead of time.
  • ·      Discover what you want and make it happen. When I began the job search, I wanted to work at an art school on the east coast located in a large city. Kind of limited my possibilities, didn’t it? However, I can say that knowing what I wanted and why helped me land a job at an art school on the east coast located in a city!
  • ·      Flexibility. At first, I did not apply to any positions with a live-in component. However, living on campus is a smart financial move, especially with college debt, or for someone who is just starting out. I found that it was helpful to discuss with potential employers what their live-on/live-in experiences were like in order to prevent what I did not enjoy about my graduate assistantship.

Stay tuned next week with more words of advice from one job seeker to another!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Take Me As I am, Hire Me, or Leave Me 25


First off, I would like to congratulate my counterpart, Small Town, Big City on your new job.  I wish nothing but the best for you! Go kick some butt, you have a lot of offer this field!

Over the past few days I've been trying to keep a smile on my face, hold back my tears and just live in the moment. In two weeks my classmates and I will FINALLY  graduate (Yes, this is a VERY LATE graduation!) Over the past two years, I've become close to three amazing men. Two of which I work with, the other is my work hubby. I know that I will see them at upcoming  conferences, visit them during my vacation time, text them everyday, skype them weekly and call them whenever I need to, but, I won't get to see them everyday. Our friendship is amazing. I couldn't have asked for better friends.

Until one of us leaves  I will cherish every moment I have with them.  I will stay out a little later, laugh a little harder, take more pictures and live in the moment.

Nothing is worth more than this day. 
ohann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #23

Hired and Some Wisdom for the Future

Its official!  I accepted my job offer two days ago.  I am very excited to begin working on July 9th!  There was not much negotiation that I needed to do because I was satisfied with salary, start date, and responsibilities.  So all in all, the job search process was relatively smooth despite periods of uncertainty.

Now, I believe over half of my cohort is employed.  Many individuals are in the on-campus stage, while some are continuing to apply to new postings.  For many, this month is one of transition—moving home or to a new city/state to begin working, saying goodbye to assistantship providers, colleagues, and friends, and trying to negotiate our existence with the cohort and a familiarity that we once took for granted.

For those that are still looking: you are amazing and will find a position and institution that is perfect for you.  Believe in the power of the second wave—good things will happen.  If not, hey, this is the first of many job searches and something wonderful will come along soon.