Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stress, the Job Search and Undergrads

I get why students, when, upon graduation, resign to just go to grad school rather than find a job. I get it, the motivation. This is frustrating and ...enfuriating to an extent. I forget how nerve-wracking a full job search can be. I had an interview yesterday that literally made me so ervous and uncomfortable that I broke out in hives. Yes, I broke out in hives. For no apparent reason. I went home afterwards, thinking that if I put my feet up, put on PJs and made supper, that I would feel better. But thae anxiety train had already begun and there was no derailing it. And so, at eight pm last night, I found myself with a face that resemebled a piece of popcorn as I happened to glance at myself in the bathroom mirror. It was off to the ER I went. I reason that, if I were called in to speak on one of those TLC specials "Medical Mystery: What's Happening to My Face?!" I would at least be commended for getting to a hospital before going into anaphalactic shock or something. I mean, I figured it must be an allergy...but I also thought that the stress had something to do with it.

Yeah, the job search is THAT stressful for me. I empathize with our students, when they come in, bravely fighting back twears or trying with all their might to muster the strength to start early or get their resume out there...I commend them. The struggles they might be undergoing are often unknown to us, I mean, they don;t always tell us if they are freaking out. But, I think I will be more understanding, more compassionate moving forward in my role in Career Services, having ubndergone my own process...and it hasn't even ended yet. Who knows what this might feel like if, (knock on wood, for the love of all things holy) ...I can't get hired or find a job.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Professional Associations: What I Wish I Knew in College

I remember when I was in my first semester of graduate school, a mere fifteen months ago, when people started throwing around a bunch of acronyms. "Hey were you at ACPA last year?" "When is ACUHO-I doing their conference?" "How much is it to go to Region I for NASPA?"

I was lost. What were they talking about?

Turns out, they were talking about professional associations-- and professional associations are big. But why? Importantly, what are they?

A professional association is a group of people, sometimes spanning several regions,or en entire country, who are connected by being part of a similar industry or job title. A more in-depth definition can be found on good ol' Wiki:

(for whatever reason, links don't automatically hyper-link on this blog)

What are the benefits of joining a professional association? First, ther networking opportunities via regional events, conferences and workshops, are great opportunities to meet people with experience in your field. It is important to remember, I think to nurture your relationships, and recognize that networking is a two way street: you are not the only one gett5ing a benefit from the relationship, and if you are, you might need to evaluate your role in a netowkring relationship. Are you e-mailling interesting articles occasionally to the person, meeting them for coffee, hearing about their experiences, etc?

Additionally, newsletters and e-mail lists help people to stay abreast of current events at different organizations so you can pay attention to what is happening in your field or industry. Finally, conferences and workshops, and often internships and scholarship programs will help you to develop professionally and make even more connections than you would if you were otherwise not engaged. Often the educational offerings in these workshops and conferences are great ways to learn new practices and ideas whihc can then be brought into your current workspace, or help you to locate a great place to work in the future.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Organizing a Job Search

Aaaand we're back in the spring semester! What does that mean? Well, among other things, it means that undergrads may be (should be?) looking for internships this summer. As a graduating master's candidate, I will be job hunting. How to begin the organization of such a search becomes an issue both undergrads and graduating students of all stripes can appreciate.

I start with tables, always with tables. I'll use Word, Excel, it really doesn't matter. Google Docs can be an interesting choice if sharing of the file is something of importance. My partner and I like to ask questions of one another's work and we live indifferent states at the moment, so this type of document suits us fine.

So we'll start with the Google Doc...what exactly do I put in there? How do I organize it? It is my belief that "organization" is relative and what works for one individual may be unappealingly confusing to another, so please take my thoughts with several grains of salt.

Generally, I put the position title in a cell on the left vertical column, with the organization/company in italics, directly below it (same cell). Then, I use the running top cells along the horizontal line to indicate several categories "contact #1", "contact address/e-mail/phone", "notes from contact", all with dates indicated and reminders if I said I would follow up highlighted in yellow. I also indicate which files I have sent or need to send and by what dates. For me, this is the only way to organize such a job hunt, and often, I will do this with 10-20 positions at a time. It is important to be specific about who to share this with, as it is a small world out there...and you never know who knows who, or how gmail might accidentally allow someone to view the table. This is why I am very clear about my security settings, and generally only allow my partner and myself access.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Work/Life Balance-Permission to Hang Out

So this week's prompt is on managing the Work/Life balance...hmm. How do you do this when you enjoy your work? When work feels like play...that is my challenge. Work may feed my desire to engage meaningfully with students, but it doesn't necessarily relax me. It doesn't feed my desire to engage with my partner or with my pets or friends and family.

For me, this attempt at balance is more about being comfortable with saying 'no' to some folks. Do I want to go to your event on my one night off to hang out with my husband and eat rice noodles on the couch? No, thank you for thinking of me. Would I love to spend Saturday, my Sabbath going to three events...or frankly even one? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. I'd rather be watching Kung Fu Panda with my partner and dog. Sue me. I think being able to exist in the space of the laziness...judge me if you healthy. I fully support it.

When I make class schedules with college students, I am often struck by their desire to schedule every minute of their every day.

"Why don't I have a Wednesday class?" They ask.
"Maybe I can join a club and do somehting with them on that day..." They continue...
"Maybe you can do laundry, watch the news or listen to VPR. Maybe you can watch movies or read books for fun. Maybe take a yoga class or a nap or a walk or a car trip." I say.

They blink back at me in what I construe to be confused silence.

Imagine that. Time to hang out. I give myself permission.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Managing Online Identity

This is something I am thinking a lot about lately. Here's why; as an undergrad, I was a columnist for our newspaper. I wrote about some pretty racy subjects, but it was an opportunity for me to hone my writing skills in an editorial format, which is admittedly different from the traditional essay, which, at the time was my primary comfort zone. So I write articles. For two years. And now they are all over the Internet. ALL over the Internet. Is it good writing? I think so, at least the majority of them (and no one can control a rabid editor, either). But, these are not articles that, moving forward I want to be a part of my job search, you know? I don't want a prospective employer to google me and find out a wrote an article on bad kissers and dating disasters. How would that look in an interview, "So, tell me Leah, I've read your resume and it looks you plan to write about sex for our campus paper?" (YUUUUUUUUUUCK!)

Thus, I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my name changed to its original pseudonym on the articles. It makes you think doesn't it? Or, it might have given me more pause as an undergraduate...

It is a shame too, because I have a great Linked in Profile (100-some-odd connections!), a PG13 Facebook page, I even have a Google Profile and Twitter. To no avail. Because when I Google my name...all I see are these ^%$*& articles!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plans for Winter Break?

First off, I'd like to share the laughter and point out that as I started to type this blog title (at least initially), it was being translated (as I typed) into Hindi characters and couldn't figure how to turn it off for ten mminutes. Hilarious.

Anyway. I always think winter break will be this quick affair, and it never is. After one week of sleeping in and watching Grey's--I'm usually ready for a project. And, often I'll read. But this time will be different. This year I am going to use my time to fundraise for my non-profit, and write up what my first marketing campaign will look like. I won't be able to really employ the atregy until I have a firm job offer in the New England area, but it might be a good idea to start thinking though my markets, and winter break is an ideal time to start conducting some research. I think I'll do some outreach to New England foster youth in college (I call them 'foster students') and start collecting some survey data, maybe using an online tool like SurveyMonkey. I'll start making a marketing binder to hold all this information, and pick it back up once I have my job offer.

Also, there is the issue of comps. I will be writing and researching for my comprehensive exams (a non-thesis they force us to do--a thesis would be seriously preferable)...that's a whole other story. Thus, the writing for comps will eat up at least 20 hours per week. So, vacation will be a relative term this year. It's fine. My research is awesome. It REALLY is. So yeah, ask me about it. ;)