Monthly Archives: April 2013

2013 Goal Updates – April

Be More Organized

I think I need to use my calendar more. I know I’m already a calendar/planner FREAK, but this past month I managed to fall behind on some projects. Not cool. However, I did have this random day where I went on a cleaning spree and completely re-organized one closet AND found items to donate. I’m actually really eager for students to leave so I have time to really tackle my office.

Read More

I think the only reading I have done this month is my inbox which always seems to be bursting at the seams with new messages. Seriously. If I have fifteen free minutes at work, I go through and sort my emails only for five more to come rolling in. The end of the year is approaching FAST and my students are getting antsy. “There’s a vacant space in my room for next year, are you going to assign someone to it?” (Yes.) “Can I leave my things in my apartment for the summer?” (No.) “Is it too late to apply to be an RA for next year?” (Dies.) I’d like to say I plan on doing more reading next month…but the new season of Arrested Development is getting posted on Netflix at the end of the month…so honestly, I might spend a good chunk of time re-watching seasons one, two, and three. Oops. I’m not even sorry.

Schedule More Me Time

About that…While I definitely set aside some time for non-work-related things, they were also things that NEEDED to get done. I want to do things like spoil myself with a pedicure or a massage but those things cost MONEY and I really haven’t had that much lately. Maybe I’ll do those things after the students move out to reward myself for surviving year one.

Keep In Touch

This month I did manage to travel and see some friends! I took one trip to Grad School State and another trip home. When I was home, I had dinner with my (recently engaged!) best friend. After dinner, we chatted about her wedding…she’s done so much planning! She has a date, a venue, colors, a dress…she just needs bridesmaids…and that’s where I come in! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have my first bridesmaid gig. Now let’s just hope I don’t become that chick from “27 Dresses” any time soon…

Be a Grown Up

The most grown up thing I did this month was pay my taxes. A whopping $45. Woooo. I also paid one doctor’s bill and I need to pay another. Actually! I’m planning a big vacation, but I think I’m going to do a separate post about that. It seems kind of grown up. Other than those things (notice they all require money), I’ve felt like a frustrated toddler this month. Ugh.

Hopefully my life will get back on track next month. Just as I get this school year routine down, it’s back to summer. Sigh.

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A Review of My Internships

Technically, I had three internships during grad school. All three were in VERY different areas of student affairs, but one really just felt like an extension of my assistantship, so I tend to not count it.

One of my internships was with an office at a college that provided services to people with a range of…I’m going to say needs because I dislike the term “disabilities”…including test-taking accommodations (extended time, readers or writers, etc), note takers, physical accommodations (arranging for a private bathroom or ground level room), and many other things. I loved the work that the office did…the only thing was that I didn’t do enough of it! Shortly before I came on board, the director of the office left, so there were some transitional issues in the office. I don’t think the interim supervisor was ready to take on an intern and as a result, there really weren’t too many projects for me to work on. A lot of the time, I would just assist in whatever area needed help. One day I wrote someone’s test answers because the student had broken their arm in a snowboarding accident. I took on a LOT of tasks meant for student workers. I also did not have much interaction with students…something I really wanted seeing as I was going into student affairs!

Luckily, I wasn’t the only student in my program with internship issues. I think a lot of us didn’t realize that since these internships were meant for us to learn something, we could ask our supervisor to assign us tasks that would help us grow and develop the skills we wanted. As I went looking for my third internship, I thought about what I didn’t like about the past two…and yes I’m saying two because I really didn’t like that my not-really-an-internship didn’t teach me anything that I wasn’t taught due to my assistantship. Also, it was getting closer to graduation and I was beginning to think of what sort of job I wanted after graduation. I made sure to look for things that I knew were going to help me out.

This last internship was in a student activities office. I focused mostly on the “fun” stuff, like events and Greek life. There were multiple professionals working in the office, so even though I had one direct supervisor, I got to work with a lot of people! It was completely the opposite of my previous experience. The very first day I was there, one of the office workers walked me around campus, both to give me a tour and to introduce me to other campus administrators. The nature of my work had me interacting with students more frequently, but to provide even more chances for interaction, I wound up moving my “office” location so students could pass by and say hi. I was a much happier person at this internship!

Some tips when you are looking for an internship…

Ask your potential supervisor what type of projects he or she has in mind for you! You don’t want to be viewed as just an office assistant that is going to make copies and file things.

Tell your potential supervisor about some things that you would like experience with. Some might be projects you can do on your own, others might be things you’d assist with. Is he or she open to helping you get these experiences?

What are some things that you will NOT do? One of my internships (guess which one) was something that I absolutely did not want to do. I took it just to have something to do. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could have found something else. OR I could have spoken to my supervisor about what I wanted to get out of it. While I didn’t want to be an RD for the summer, I could have thought of some projects that I was interested in.

How have your internships gone? What are the most valuable things you’ve learned from them?

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TBT – Part Timing

Thanks to one of the blogs I follow, I found this article from The New York Times about how terrible part time work is. And after relying on working three part time jobs to get by for a year and a half, I fully understand how these employees are feeling. While the news reports that the unemployment rate is going down, that doesn’t count people who are “underemployed” like the woman in this article who worked as an interior designer for years and years, only to be working part time as a cashier in her fifties.

For part of my undergrad career, I decided to be a part time student. In my mind, I would spend more time working and would be able to pay for school easier. That wasn’t the case. At Undergrad U, part time students cannot receive ANY financial aid, including scholarships and grants that a student might normally qualify for. This meant that whatever tuition I couldn’t pay out of pocket, I was taking private loans for. This made it all to easy to forget about that expense until after graduation. Also, as a part time student, I couldn’t live on campus. While I lucked out and found super cheap (and super disgusting) subleases, that’s not always the case. In my area, off campus housing was usually more expensive than on campus housing. Another thing was that I wasn’t allowed to be an active member of a lot of the clubs I had been a part of. I also couldn’t work at one of my campus jobs because it was for full time undergrad students only. Once I returned to full time status, I kept working at my previous job and was working almost the same amount of hours that I had been while I was a a part time student! That was definitely not easy and I had to get creative with scheduling…both for work AND classes. As much as that sucked, I was much happier being a full time student!

Working part time jobs was also not a very pleasant experience. Yes, I had worked part time jobs before attempting to juggle three at once. But I had worked those while I was a student, so my job wasn’t my priority at that time. The reason I took on three at once was because I had just graduated from Undergrad U, hadn’t received any “real” job offers (even though I had applied to over 50 jobs!), and was on the verge of being homeless (a big thank you to all my friends with couches). The article made some valid points with the downfalls of part time work – less pay, less hours (obviously), and inconsistent scheduling. One of the jobs paid minimum wage and the other two were commission-based. That, along with the inconsistent scheduling, meant I had a VERY inconsistent pay check. The scheduling was honestly the worst part. Some weeks I’d have tons of hours, other weeks I’d be sitting at home and remember why I hated daytime TV. Also, I didn’t get my schedules until the Friday before the week of the schedule…that meant I had to wait to the last minute to plan EVERYTHING…hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, hanging out with friends, AND the hours I was supposed to work my other jobs. What’s worse, if I requested off one DAY or even part of a day (“Hey boss, I have a doctor’s appointment Tuesday afternoon, could you schedule me for morning only?”) my boss would definitely NOT schedule me for Tuesday (okay, fine, whatever) but also would schedule me LESS for the whole week because “I had less hours to give”. UMMM…WHAT?

While working part time is often necessary, being a part time student at a traditional four year college is something that can be avoided. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be part time students ever…there are definitely ways that it can work! However, you need to make sure you’re aware of the differences between part time and full time student status! In the end, going part time cost me a lot more than being a full time student would have.

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A Letter to My Teachers

Dear Teachers,

This is a letter to all of you to apologize for any rumor, lie, or mean thing that I ever said about you. I didn’t know it when I was seven twelve seventeen twenty that these things got back to you. I thought these were things said among friends and classmates in our own little world that was very much separate from yours. I didn’t realize that these things would hurt you. That you might actually care about what your students think about you.

See, I didn’t think you cared about us at all. I thought that you were just doing your job which, well, I guess you were. But caring about us is why you have your job. I mean, let’s be serious. Compensation for teaching includes a meager paycheck, a few too many colds and viruses, and at least one of those weird tri-flavor popcorn tins each year. You became a teacher because you wanted to help us grow and be better people and be educated.

So since I thought you didn’t care about us, I didn’t think that these things would hurt you. That you might go home and cry at night because of the things we said about you. I know how that feels now and it sucks and I try to tell myself, “It’s just students, why should I care?” But the truth is I DO care. I want to be liked. What person doesn’t?

I also want to apologize for anytime that I heard another student say a rumor, lie, or mean thing about you and I did nothing to stop the conversation or stand up for you. Standing up to your peers can be terrifying, but if I knew how much that would mean, maybe I would have done it at least once. To hear that a student didn’t stand up for you sucks, especially if it’s a student that you thought might actually do that for you.

I want my students to like me but I know that I can’t please everybody. I also know that I have to do my job and most of the time my students want me to do the opposite. But at the same time, I want to work with them. I want them to understand why my job is the way it is. I want them to get it. And I don’t want them to say rumors, lies, or mean things about me because it hurts. Unfortunately, I know some day a lot of them will know this pain as many are education majors.

I’m hoping that none of you teachers remember me. Or if you do, it’s for something awesome I did. I know in high school we’re so caught up with the drama of who said what about who that seems completely life ruining at the time…except ten years later, you can’t remember it. So maybe in ten years, I won’t remember these days.

Sincerely,

The Author (and many other students you have had that now work in education)

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The Right Fit

So, the other day I mentioned that a job I turned down was at a school that just wasn’t the right fit. But what does that even mean? Think about when you were applying to GO to college. Everybody told you that you wanted “the right fit” and that “you’d just know”. Those things apply to a job. You want to work somewhere that you will be happy and continue to grow.

There are some things about the school or position that you will know just from reading the job description or researching the school.

Location

This one is pretty obvious. Where is the school located? Is it somewhere you want to be geographically? If you want to stay on the West Coast to be close to family or a significant other, why would you even apply to a job in Virginia? On a smaller scale, what sort of environment do you want to be in? Do you want to work in a city or do you want to be in a more suburban or even rural area? In a city there’s PLENTY to do that’s off campus (fun for you), but it also might make it hard to promote on campus programming (terrible for your job). At some schools, there is NOTHING if you venture off campus.

Religion

If the school you’re applying at has a religious affiliation, you might have to see if your values line up with the school’s values. This is something you really should be doing anyway, but more so if there is religion involved. Back when I was applying for assistantships, one school with Catholic roots said that I would not be able to have overnight guests of the opposite gender. Not for me, sorry.

What You’ll Be Doing

This might sound silly, but you want to apply for a job you’re going to like. If you really hate academic advising, don’t apply for a job that has anything to do with academic advising. At smaller schools, you may be working in more than one department, so even though the job may be listed as one thing, make sure you read the description to see exactly what you will be doing. On the flip side, if you are working in a larger department, you’re going to want to see what your role will be in the department.

Aspects Important to YOU

There are some things that will be important to you that your classmates won’t care about. If you have a significant other or child, you’re going to want to make sure a live in position works with your lifestyle. I really wanted to work at a small school.

There are other aspects of the job that you can’t just look up online but instead will have to ask about during interviews. Other things might be a bit awkward to just come out and ask, so you will have to make your best call based on what you see during an interview.

Culture

What’s the office culture like? Is it a laid back, fun place to work? I honestly can’t imagine working in some stuffy office all day. Some offices have a much more casual dress code than others (jealous). Do the staff members seem to get along? Are they friends outside the office?

Professional Development

How invested will the school be in your growth once you get the job? Do they spring for ACPA or NASPA or tell you to just register for a free webinar? Is there a set professional development program? Will they let you take on projects?

Supportive Supervisors

This is probably the most important. You and your supervisor need to be able to work well together. This isn’t just another on campus job that you will leave once you graduate…you’re in it to win it this time! What is your boss’ supervision style? Do they seemed relaxed or does it seem like they’ll be hovering over your shoulder every step of the way?

As much as interviews are a time for your future employer to be learning more about you, it is also a time that you can learn about them! Make sure to go in with a list of questions about things that matter to you!

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Declining a Job Offer

Here’s something that I didn’t tell anybody for a LONG time – I turned down my first job offer. I told people that I just hadn’t heard back from the school. There were plenty of people NOT getting jobs and the economy was crap and I thought people would think that I was crazy for turning down a job. But honestly, I didn’t want to work there. I don’t think I would have been happy if I had accepted the job.

It just wasn’t the right fit and I think I kind of knew that going into the whole interview process with them, but it was such a well-known school that I think I may have been blinded by the bright lights. In this case, well-known also meant LARGE which was completely the opposite of what I wanted. Undergrad U and Grad School State were pretty big schools and I wanted a change. I wanted to work somewhere that all the departments worked together to put on programs. Heck, I wanted to work somewhere where people in other departments knew my name.

I mean, this would have been my ideal job, but something tells me that my parents would not have appreciated me getting my masters and then working at a bar…

The job description didn’t really align with what I wanted to be doing with my life. I love working with my student organizations and there was no guarantee that this job would have let me do that. I know I could have found my own way to working with these student groups, but I remember asking one of the current entry level professionals what tips she had for starting out in the job and the first thing she said was “to take a year to get used to it all before getting involved with campus.” UMMM WHAT? At a large school it is so easy to just say in your department. Too easy.

If you don’t want a job, do not feel obligated to accept the offer. Think about your future career goals and make sure the job that you are accepting can help you achieve those down the road. Also, it’s okay to not tell people about it. I think I was one of the first people in our program to be offered a job and I know that at the time, some of my classmates hadn’t even been offered on campus interviews. I didn’t want it to seem that I was bragging by talking about this job offer that I had gotten – only to turn it down. I didn’t tell my family either because they would have thought I was crazy and I know my mom would have guilt tripped me even more. She was already on my case for refusing to apply for a job that was twenty minutes from home. At the rate I was going, she was probably thinking that I was going to be living in a cardboard box after graduation.

So what happened after I denied my first job offer? Well, I’d love to say that a day later, my dream job called me up and hired me on the spot, but it didn’t happen that way. In fact…I didn’t have any other interviews lined up. I didn’t hear from the other school I had interviewed with on campus. I started from square one again and yeah, it sucked, but in the end I found a job that was MUCH better suited for me. I didn’t have another job offer until after graduation, but I was okay with that.

 

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Things I’m Kind of Obsessed With At The Moment

Even though I’ve been super busy, here are the things I’ve been filling my five free minutes a day with:

The Carrie Diaries

Yes, I know that I’ve complained that it’s a bunch of twentysomethings pretending to be in high school and prancing around in Forever 21’s clothes pretending it’s the 80s…but I kind of like this show. To the point of when there’s NOT a new one in my Hulu queue, I get a little upset. It’s a tad predictable and I spend most of the show deciding which character I would punch in the face first, but I can’t stop watching.

whatshouldwecallstudentaffairs.tumblr.com

I’m obsessed with a variety of tumblr blogs and I’m going to take the time to only list my current top three, this being the first. It’s just so…accurate. My boss and I routinely send these to each other and just laugh that somebody else out there gets it. Also, this blog went on hiatus for awhile and those were some dark times. I honestly don’t know who the creator of this blog is, but we’ve chatted over Twitter so clearly we’re BFFs. There have honestly been times where I’ve thought about creating a “Notes from Your Greek Advisor” tumblr but then I think about what happens if somebody discovers me and then I actually do wind up living in a box. Ugh. Life is so hard.

fairytalesfor20somethings.tumblr.com

It’s no secret that I’m kind of obsessed with Disney, and this updates it for our modern lifestyle. My favorite ones are always about Cinderella because she’s my fave AND the author of this blog decided that Cinderella wants to be a photographer. Which back in the day is what I wanted to be. I only just discovered this blog the other day and have been checking it religiously, only to discover that it hasn’t been updated in nearly two months. This makes me sad and reminds me of when I was a small child and decided that The Beatles were my favorite band and that I wanted to see them in concert only for my mother to tell me that would never happen because half of the members were dead.

myfriendsaremarried.tumblr.com

Ugh, I wish this wasn’t my life but it is. My friends are getting married and having babies ON PURPOSE and it’s TERRIBLE. I was recently telling a student that I was going to visit my best friend for her birthday and he was like “You gonna go out and rage?” I contemplated LYING to him just to seem cool because actually, we’re having dinner with her HUSBAND AND CHILDREN. This is what my life has come to. And people wonder why I say “College Forever!” I know this isn’t professional, but sometimes I just want to celebrate Thirsty Thursday.

Shrimp

I know this is a really weird thing to be obsessed with, but lately every recipe I’ve been trying has had shrimp in it. I really like seafood but I feel like it’s super easy overcook it but I have yet to mess up shrimp. It’s also really convenient because you can buy them frozen and they take no time to thaw. Really, I just love anything I can cook so I can avoid eating campus food.

Sorority Clothing

I should totally be over this, except I’m not. I keep seeing cute things and I want it all!! Pictured above is the Spirit Jersey which in all honestly would probably piss me off because it’s so baggy (those sleeves!) but it doesn’t stop me from wanting one in thirty colors. I really should stick to ordering more…professional…clothing (I totally want a cardigan…maybe I’ll order one today…) but instead I lust after anything over sized and neon.

Arrested Development

I LOVE Netflix. I can’t watch just one episode of a show, I need to watch like 15 in a row and then sit back and wonder where my day went. I have probably watched the entire Arrested Development series four or five times since it went off the air. There have been rumors going around forever that they were going to make more episodes or a movie and last year these rumors were FINALLY confirmed to be true. Just the other day, they announced that new episodes will be available on May 26 which is perfect because it’s a holiday weekend. Of course, this is most likely going to crash Netflix, so not only will I not be able to watch Arrested Development, I won’t be able to watch ANY TV show.

Another thing I clearly am obsessed with…procrastination. Time to stop interneting and start being productive!

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So You’re in Grad School – April

So I might have dropped the ball this month. And no, that’s not an April Fools joke. Ever since the students returned from Spring Break, I’ve felt incredibly busy. Some days I look at my calendar and it’s a solid block of meetings. With all this madness, I’ve had no time for writing (or anything else…empty fridge, I’m looking at you!). I’m so bummed, I had a GREAT idea for an April Fool’s Day post. I guess it will just have to wait for next year.

I also really haven’t had time to think more about what I did during my first year of grad school during the month of April. Also not an April Fools joke. Sorry, first year students. Prep for you upcoming summer adventures? Seriously. I don’t even know what to tell you at the moment. I’ve forgotten stuff that happened only two years ago in my old age.

I remember April of my second year much better. That was the month we all started having on campus interviews. Now remember, never compare yourself to your classmates. You may not have an on campus interview arranged yet. You might have more than anybody else. Do what makes you comfortable. That being said, here’s a few tips!

On campus interviews will take you away from school and you might be gone quite a while if your interview is far from your college or if you are lining them up back to back (don’t do that). Your professors and supervisors will be flexible, but please make sure you’re checking the calendar before scheduling an interview. If a potential employer suggests a date that definitely doesn’t work, you can let them know. Remember  they work in education so they understand that you are still a students. Also, think about how you are going to keep up with school work on the road!

You don’t have to say yes to all on campus interview offers. IN fact, you should only say yes if you are really certain that it is a job you would accept if offered. Why  An on campus interview is a pretty big deal. Schools don’t invite twenty candidates on campus for one open position. It sometimes spans two days and a lot of people interview you. The school puts a lot of effort (and sometimes money) into planning it. If you don’t think you’re going to take the job, don’t waste their time.

Different schools have different reimbursement policies. Some schools will book your travel for you if you are traveling by air. Others will have you book it and then reimburse you. Some schools will reimburse you for travel expenses no matter what. At other schools, they might only reimburse half or not reimburse you if you decline their job offer. These are all very important reasons why you need to think long and hard about saying yes to an on campus interview. I was in your shoes last year. You are in NO position to shell out $800 for a last minute flight and not get that money back.

The traveling there is honestly the worst part. A word of warning – nobody expects you to wear a full suit while traveling, but you definitely don’t want to be wearing sweatpants!! You might be meeting a person from campus right as you arrive and even though it’s not a formal interview, it’s totally part of the interview. If you MUST wear yoga pants while driving, try to find a rest stop close to your destination to clean up at.

One time that someone told me was to take advantage of the bathroom breaks. During your long day, people will ask if you need to use the restroom. ALWAYS SAY YES. Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom, enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet. I had some fruit snacks in my bag and used one break to eat those to stop my stomach from rumbling.

Do you have any other tips for second years about to start their on campus interviews? Leave them in the comments!

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Talkin’ About First Generation

I was a first generation college student. Not only had my parents not gone to college, but nobody else in my family had gone to college either. I was the first.

I never thought it was a big deal. My parents and everybody else around me made it very clear that college was just what came after high school, just like middle school came after elementary school. When I went to college, I didn’t say anything about it because I thought there were others like me. But no, the second I started having trouble at Undergrad U, suddenly it was a BIG DEAL that I was a first generation student.

The counseling center enrolled me in a special program for first generation students. The program offered a lot of services (free tutoring, special sessions with financial aid, pamphlets to send home to parents) that I’m SURE helped other students, but they weren’t of any use to me. I was a white girl raised in an affluent area. Probably the most awkward moment was when I was sitting in a session about diversity…as the only white girl. Everybody kept staring at me like I didn’t belong in the program, like I was some sort of spy for the non-first generation students. Shortly after that I just stopped going to anything the program had to offer.

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned more about first generation students any why they need more support than non-first generation students. It was also during grad school that I felt like some sort of zoo animal. I was the only first generation student in my class and everybody kept asking me all sorts of questions. The one I hated the most? “What’s it like to be a first generation student?” “Oh I don’t know…what’s it like to not?”

One time I brought up this issue with my mom and she got mad. She also didn’t think it was a big deal. I told her that I didn’t think it was a big deal either and thought that was going to be that but it seems once every few months she brings it up again except she turns me into the bad person. Basically she thinks that by my bringing that topic up, I feel that my parents disadvantaged me by not going to college. Um. No. That’s not why I brought it up, I brought it up because it was something that came up in class.

Just like anything else, you can’t make assumptions based on a certain status. Helping first generation students IS important, but you have to find out more information about each student’s situation before helping them. If the counseling center or even the program coordinator would have talked to me, they could have directed me to workshops that did apply to me.

What are some program your institution has in place for first generation students? What are some of the challenges you face in your department when working with first generation students?

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