Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take Me As I Am, Hire Me, or Leave Me! #16

First On Campus!

Yup, you read that correctly. The first on campus interview!  Score! Two weeks ago I had a phone interview  for a res life position at an all women's college in the mid-west. Double score!  It took place on a Friday and I was offered an on campus that Monday. Wow!  The interview went well. We had more of a conversation then an interview, which now I understand what that means and is suppose to feel like. After talking for 45 minutes we finally hung up the phone. I started to cry. Yes cry, you heard me. It was the best feeling in the world. We connected, I love what the institution stands for and it fits the majority of my criteria. I wanted to work there NOW! That's how awesome this interview went. BUT our conversation didn't stop there. I sent out my thank you emails and the young AC who interviewed me continued the conversation the whole weekend! We talked about traveling, things to do in the area, music ect. It was a great feeling, and I was on a high for the rest of the weekend. I even celebrated with some wine!
Maybe I was so excited because this was my first lead since I've  returned from NASPA. It also has been my only once since.  I feel really good about this on campus but I am trying so hard not to get my hopes up. The countdown begins as I try to finish my school work AND prepare for the on campus, which will take place in TWO weeks!  During the next week I will be skyping with my mentors so I can be prepared to kick some butt!!

Wish me luck!

 Leap and the net will appear. -Proverb

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #14

The Convention Experience

As I sit in the C3 waiting area, I am looking around me, taking in the sites and sounds of the other interview participants, the different variations of Starbucks coffee, and sound of rustling resume paper. A few women around me roll their eyes at a woman who is having a loud conversation on her phone. Another man furiously constructs a “thank-you” note.  A few individuals talk quietly about their most recent interview and the famed question: “How would you define social justice?”

All of this banter reminds me of how important it is to maintain your professional identity outside of the interview setting.  Just from observing a few interactions, I can gain a sense of some individuals’ commitment to the anticipated position, what they think about the interviewer, and also, more importantly how they refer to their current institution (even negative impressions can be framed in a positive, professional light).

I can’t say that I am completely innocent of not maintaining a consistent professional demeanor. I found myself, during the few interviews I had during C3, changing “my story”. Did I want to work at a small, private institution? Or one of the largest university systems in the country? Was supervision of student staff my favorite aspect of the job? Then why did I apply to a few that didn’t have a supervision component? All of these questions seemed relevant as I was being asked by the interviewer why I applied to a particular job at a particular school. I didn’t feel as though I was inauthentic, but only that I had yet to really grapple with some of these issues of my job search.

In all, I concluded that I am attracted to institution with a  “strong identity”, one whose mission transcends all offices, programs, and interaction with students. Those were the institutions I applied to and the jobs that most accurately lived out those values. I was happy with this realization, because I was then able to articulate that better during my second round interviews, which I believe made a huge impact on the way that the employer viewed me.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Take Me As I Am, Hire Me, or Leave Me! #15

The Power of Support and the Written Word

  I arrived to Phoenix a day early to give myself time to explore the city. After a long afternoon exploring the town I came home to this direct message from my friend:  “ A package is waiting for you at the front desk. Please pick it up before tomorrow morning.” I ran downstairs to see who it was from, not thinking it could be from my friend or friends!

 I tore open the box and found yummy snacks inside with motivational messages on them. As  I dumped the box out onto the bed, more than snacks fell out.  A dozen or so cards also fell onto my bed. I immediately started to cry.  The cards were from my friends on twitter all wishing me good luck. I couldn't believe this was happening! As I read each card I cried harder ( tears of happiness of course.) I was touched. What a #WLsalt moment, to feel supported and lifted.

One card read “ You inspire so many on Twitter- hope this helps motivate you just the same.”  This package couldn’t have arrived a minute sooner. I was freaking out about my 5 interviews that I had the following day. I didn't feel prepared. However, with each written word I could hear the voice of the person who wrote it cheering me on telling me to calm down and  be myself. I was already a success.  

 The cards I've received during TPE are hanging up on the wall that leads to my bedroom. Every night I'm reminded of my support system  as I continue this process. Every morning  as I walk out the door for work, I look up and smile because I have a strong support system behind me. 

In the end I had 8 interviews with one 2nd interview. Some were a fit; others were not. But that’s the fun of interviewing. There’s only so much you can read and get a feel for on a website.  Now it’s time to wait.

“Life is all about timing…the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable…attainable. Have the patience, wait it out. It’s all about timing. “
Stacey Charter

Friday, March 23, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #13

Preparing for Convention

As I make the drive to Louisville, KY, I am full of nerves and excitement. I'm nervous about the items in my suitcase, the bullet points on my resume, the number of thank you notes I purchased, and my height after putting on my two inch power heals. On the other hand, I'm excited about things to come, including job prospects and networking with colleagues near and far.

Tomorrow I am interviewing for three positions: one residence life, and two conduct positions. Have I even started preparing? Nope. Had it been three months ago, around the time of my first Skype interview, I would have been jumping out of my skin with anxiety. This newfound confidence and an "it will get done" attitude has contributed to this calm regarding the interviews. How have I prepared besides printing resumes? A friend of mine was kind enough to print off a job search packet, full of potential interview questions to prepare. I've have been reading over that. In addition, I have been reviewing institutional profiles and keeping up-to-date with the institutions' current events (I even wonder if I will be asked my stance on current events affecting my institution).

I am also taking the time to acknowledge the confidence I have to think on the spot, answer difficult questions, and recognize my shortcomings.

As the rain hits the windshield, wiper glades bring a clarity to my seemingly uncertain future: "Wherever you go, no matter the weather, bring your own sunshine".

Monday, March 19, 2012

Take me as I am, Hire Me, or Leave Me! #14

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Job Searching Part 1

The Ugly

I would be lying if I didn’t say I had some moments of insecurity before attending TPE.  Two weeks prior I only had one interview scheduled. My fellow classmates, who work in res life ,were getting interviews left and right, which is understandable since their background is in res life and mine is in leadership.  I knew I wasn’t spending enough time searching. I was more focused on the remaining two events that I was overseeing.  I was struggling with balancing work, life, and job searching. My practicum supervisor, also my mentor, took me into her office one Thursday afternoon to check in to see how I was doing. She asked that awful question “ how many interviews do you have set up so far?”  “One” I said with tears in my eyes. She looked at me like I had 10 heads. ( She doesn’t deal with criers very well.. oopppsss).  I came up with some lame excuse on why I wasn’t spending the time. She reminded me with a firm voice that this whole process was another fulltime job in itself and I had to make the time, even if it was stying up until 2am.  With a swift kick in the butt,  I set a timeline applied to a butt load of jobs and walked into TPE with 6 interviews. I slipped some resumes in a few jobs I was interested in and by the end of the first day my grand total was 8.
            I was pumped the first day of interviewing but only 1 out of my five were a fit. I left that night discouraged and dreading the next day. I reflected on what I might have done wrong. Did I not do enough research? Did I just apply because I needed some interviews at TPE what could have been the problem. I understand  not every school is going to be a fit for me but I just didn’t have a good vibe with my interviewers. One actually bored me and I wanted to get up and leave, but I knew that I had to finish strong.
In order for me to stand out my last question was “ if you were to write your autobiography today what would the title be? Well, one director didn’t like that question too much because she didn’t see herself as a creative person and wasn’t surprised she didn’t have an answer for me… Glad I am not a fit thereJ

Day two I was feeling the time differences and I stayed up way too late the night before networking with other grads and professionals.  However, my most successful interviews came out of the 2nd day which one lead to a 2nd interview. Which was weird to me because I felt I did better the first day.. but what do I know this whole process is a crap shoot. I hate not having control over a situation.

Going in I thought I would freak out because I am not a crowd person and I have a bad attention span so I was anxious about being so close to everyone while interviewing. To find out, it wasn’t that bad! Once my first interview  finished I laughed at myself because I was freaked out over nothing. ( That’s usual)  The carpet, pipe and drapes and sections made it easier to focus.  ( Except for schools who brought really big signs, they were a bit of a distraction) However, the worst part of the interview was sitting in the waiting room waiting for your name to be called. Employers came in from both sides, some with just a sign, ipad or some who would call your name. You sat in your seat feeling like you were watching a tennis match. I am surprised I didn’t end up with whiplash J

So reflecting back there wasn’t anything that was THAT ugly… maybe my breakdown before TPE.. Oh well.. it happens.

Take me as I am… right?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #12

Preparing for Conferences

This coming Friday, I will leave for ACPA’s C3 (Career Central at Convention).  For those of you who are unaware of what C3 is, its essentially like TPE (The Placement Exchange).  On top of preparing for the job interviews that occur at C3, I am in the process of completing my comprehensive exams (required to graduate from my program), and prepare for a presentation that I am doing at the conference!  It’s a crazy time of year, but I think that I will be able to manage it!

C3 is a challenging venue for those not looking to enter into residence life.  Some people will have 7-10 interviews, but I am going into the conference knowing that 2-3 interviews will be just fine.  So far, I have just that – 2 interviews.  One is for a really awesome conduct position on the east coast, and the other is a residential curriculum focused res life position, that I am equally as excited for.

If you’ve kept up with my saga, you might be scratching your head right about now. Res Life?  Did I just say that I applied to a position in it?  Yes, that’s right.  I’m still not sure how I feel about remaining within Res Life, but the position sounded like a great experience, so I thought I would give it a try!  I have 2 other positions (conduct related) that are “pending”, which means I applied and requested an interview, but have not heard anything from them.  Recognizing its still a week until the conference, I’ve decided that I should not give up on these positions yet – there’s still time!

I’m sure I will have some great stories to share regarding C3 and ACPA so I’ll keep you all posted.  Is anyone else going?  Feel free to share what you’re nervous/excited about! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Small Town, (Big) City Dreams #11

The On-Campus Interview

Recently, I had a friend go on an on-campus interview. On picking him up and taking him to the airport, I was able to witness both ends of his experience. The ride to the airport was marked with apprehension, slight self-doubt, and nervous excitement. On the ride back, was marked with relief and disbelief over the entire experience, reflecting on the sense of peace coupled with exhaustion. He offered a few tips for job searchers:

1. Utilize your midday exhaustion. Some of the most genuine interview rapport occurs when the nervous guard is let down. He was able to answer the question “why do you want this job” in a way that was true to himself because he no longer was hyper-sensitive to the interview environment. The earlier you can tap into that feeling the better.
2.  Ask the same question to different people. You may be surprised at the array of responses based upon individual contexts.
3. Remember to formally thank everyone with whom you have contact with, including the administrative staff that makes your visit possible. Recently, a graduate school candidate asked the coordinator of admissions to distribute thank you letters, without thanking the coordinator! This reflected very poorly on the candidate from my perspective, and is something that I have kept in mine as I move through the job search.
4.  Own up to your shortcomings.

I will carry this advice with me in my own job search. Until then, I will be living vicariously through my friends' successes! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Take me As I Am, Hire Me, or Leave Me! #13

Countdown for #TPE12: 5 days. My stress level on a scale of 1-5: 3! My excitement level: 100000! Can't wait to meet my #52in52 participants in real life and make new connections!  :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Small Town, (Big) City Dreams #10

Gender Reflections

Lately, I’ve been concerning myself with issues of gender in higher education, but this topic has nicely blended into the job search arena. As a female working in an all female building, I have seen many issues related to body image, eating disorders, and frustrating representations of women in academia. Today, my supervisor had our staff reflect on our role in teams, explaining that as a woman, it is often customary for her and others to take a back seat in groups, and suffer from a lot of internal critique. As a job searcher, I have recently reflected on my feminine identity and questioned how this will influence my job search.

The most relevant example is my hope to one day enter into the Dean of Students position at a university. As of now, I’ve applied to two conduct focused positions. While I am by no means “small” (I am 5’10”), I am slender. Additionally, I am very soft-spoken. As an interviewer, I often wonder how my demeanor will communicate to employers. Will my gender identity be called into question, inexplicitly?

In another area, I often struggle with issues of bluntness – I am a very frank person and would prefer to be upfront rather than to leave people guessing about my thoughts. A few people have confronted me about this, I believe, as a direct result of them feelings as though I am not conforming to my gender identity which is usually characterized as passivity. As I enter the job search, it will be important to examine the ways in which gender impacts my image.