Showing posts from 2011

Silos, divisions, and the problems they cause

When I was in graduate school we talked a lot about silos and divisions. It never really hit home until I started working in academic administration (as opposed to student services and that end).

The department in which I'm working used to be two departments, and a few years ago they merged. This has affected my life in a few ways, first (and most definitely foremost) of which is how my office and files are organized. Faculty's folders, which hold information such as evaluations, are not organized alphabetically, they are first sorted by previous program and then alphabetically. Contact lists are also sorted like this, which can make finding someone I haven't met yet extremely difficult. We also have two department leaders, one from each former department, who each had their own assistants. This lead to have three assistants in one office, each doing a specific job and working in a specific silo.
Silos have also caused other problems, such as redundancy. Each of the three a…

A new step

Lots of goods and bads the past couple of weeks, along with beginnings and endings, which could be good or (and) bad.
I received a rejection letter from my dream job. No interview, nothin'.
Well, I can now share that I found a job! I am now a Sr. Staff Assistant at a local institution, working in a 100+ year old program with a fantastic reputation!
I started at a really slow time in the academic year, so there isn't a whole lot I can do (yet)
I meet my co-worker, who has been out on medical leave, for the first time this week
I no longer work in the restaurant business! (but I had to say goodbye to some good people)
In my first week of work I managed to get a cold, have Outlook screw up times for an appointment, have my ID number messed up, and get a flat tire
I had a terrible stomach bug this weekend, and when I finally felt better we went to the grocery store and then got pooped on by a murder of crows
I think I'll continue the blog, but change the idea. I'm going to write a…

Ignorance isn't bliss for those around it

Sorry for another late blog post, but the past couple of weeks have been a bit crazy. A few weekends ago I was at work when a table had a conversation with me, and I want to share it. At first, I just laughed at the ignorance of what was being said, but after I shared it with my coworkers, I realized how insulted some of them felt for me. I'm not offended by ignorance, or by advice from ignorant people, I can't be or I wouldn't have a job.
So, first, some background. In the restaurant where I work, there are close to 90 TVs and the radio is always on. Most of the time there are several different sports channels on the TVs and some sort of music is over the speakers. On Sundays, each TV has a football game on and the Bills game (or most popular team) is being played over the radio.
After serving the food, and while clearing plates and garbage from surrounding tables, my table starts talking to me. There are two women in their 60s as well as an older gentlemen.
Table: Does all…

Resources (or lack thereof)

Recently my graduate school sent out a survey about graduate's job placement. I was pretty honest. At the time I had applied to about 40 positions since January 1st, and had only gotten two or three interviews. I also knew of several people who graduated (with similar and different programs/degrees) who could not find permanent, full-time positions in their fields. I also knew of others, who went through similar programs and found jobs immediately after graduation. And so, as graduate school teaches us, I began to reflect. What in the world could possibly be different from my degree (from an institution not well known in the field) to a degree from a public institution (with a very strong program). We go through similar classes, with theory, diversity, and administration courses. We write similar papers, and have fantastic faculty members. But speaking with the person I know from the very strong program (we'll call it Bills University).
Bills University offers a program with a…

Not alone

I normally try to keep these posts pretty professional. I'm not sure why. Somehow, deep down, I must think that out there somewhere someone who is reading this REALLY wants to offer me a job. And so, on and on I write about searching for that position. But, it's really scary. I'm a waitress (ok, a server). I pay, at the minimum, close to $1000 a month in student loans. I'm married, I have a mortgage, car payment, utilities, and a family to pay for. Some months I don't make enough to make ends meet. And my husband is wonderful (I don't think he really gets it though). We make it through, each month and each disaster. Even the dinner that got messed up earlier this week, we just bought calzones.
Generally the people around me don't get it. Don't get why I want to do what I want to do. "Why not go into HR? you have the skills." I don't want to get into HR, I want to work with students. I didn't study HR in grad school because students are …


Interviews are always full of questions. Questions toward the candidate, questions toward the panel or interviewer. Questions about behavior, strengths and weaknesses, preferences, money, and the list goes on. Most of the interviews I have been on include a list of questions that are asked of all of the candidates and include the normal strengths/weaknesses, what kind of manager do you prefer to work with, how would your boss describe you questions. Some interviews ask questions about behaviors, which make the interviews seem bizarre and not job-specific.
I usually go into interviews with my own questions. I do research on the office, topics, students, and institution, and find unanswered questions through that research. I have also spent time doing all of that, and not finding anything to ask. I can then come up with questions regarding the position, such as work hours, unique challenges, and what kinds of students/populations utilize the office. I've had one interview, on the ph…

An interview!

Another interview, and life got in the way. I had an interview at a great, local community college. The position would be part-time, and the interview was supposed to take an hour. I had two choices of days, Tuesday or Wednesday, between 9 and 5. I chose Wednesday at 9, thinking I should get out by 10 and be to work only a few minutes late.
That morning I found my interview clothes were still wet from the washer, and they didn't dry in time for me to leave. Daisy had a difficult time taking her medicine. And it was raining. So I threw on a dress and a shall, belted it so it would look more conservative, and ran out the door. I was there early, the interview started late. I had already had the campus tour on a previous interview, so they took me directly to the interview. I was excited, because now it should only have been 30 minutes and I could be on time for work!
The interview was very informal, which was nice. We discussed the position, my strengths and weaknesses, and what the j…

A social experiment (with brownies!)

Apparently I performed a social experiment at work this weekend. I did not mean to create a problem, or to cause any drama. I simply offered brownies.
I work on Sundays, especially Football Sundays (or Sunday Funday as we call it) and I generally work a 6 to 8 hour shift. Last year a bunch of us unofficially rotated bringing in snacks. I love to bake and cook, and I love to share the stuff I make, so I do it mostly so I can bake and share it, without feeling guilty. Football has gone on for a bunch of weeks now, and only two of us have brought in treats. Last week I spoke with Barb, the other woman who has been bringing in goodies, and we discussed a sign-up sheet for everyone to bring in something during football season.
Sunday morning I got up early and made brownies, in cupcake holders. I also created a sign-up sheet with all of the Sundays between yesterday and the end of the year. On the top of the sheet I wrote: "Want a brownie? Sign up to bring in treats for everyone else!&…

The last few days, in bullets

This week I don't have much to walk about in a large-post fashion. I wish I could have written something mind-blowing over the weekend, but I lacked the inspiration. There are, however, a lot of interesting things happening that I'd like to learn more about, or just mention. So, I've decided to do a bullet list of things that I can't write about in a paper-like fashion.
·The Occupy Wall Streeet, along with the student protests, are really interesting. I truly wish there were more brave media outlets or journalists who would investigate and report on what is happening ·I used my "network" this week to secure a recommendation from someone not only in the field but who retired from the institution to which I applied for a job ·My poor dog. I don't have kids, and really, I don't really want any at this moment (in the future, when we are more financially secure and I have a few years invested into a profession, yes), my animals are my kids. We have four cats …

Dream job (at a local institution)

So I recently applied to a position that would be my "dream job". It's working with veterans, at an administrative level, at an institution that serves a large number of students and vets. It's a full-time, grant-funded position, but it's what I really (really, really, really) want to do. It would be like the genie or fairy granting one wish for the career path you want.
But, like most things, it has made me reflect on what I want, where I want my career to go, and what my ultimate goal is. It started with a thought: I want to work, advise, and counsel veterans in an institution of higher learning. Ok, great. That's a huge description for one person's job. And then came the doubt: can I make enough changes to effect enough people to make it my final goal? Nope, probably not. Helping even one vet would make my degree worthwhile, but helping in the large-scale would probably be the career goal. Ok, so then what is the final career goal? I probably need to b…

GI Bill in the news...

8 For-Profit Colleges Collect More than $1-Billion in Veterans' Education Benefits
Why I can No Longer Teach U.S. Military History
Serving Soldiers?
For-profit colleges getting more GI Bill dollars
Highlighting Flow of Military Benefits to For-Profits, Senators Seek Changes in Key Rule
Above are some articles focusing on veterans in higher ed from this week. Every time I see an article with "veterans" or "GI Bill" in the title along side some mention of higher ed I get excited. But most of the articles don't even mention problems students face (other than a drop-out rate). They don't mention services provided, support structures, development, committment, or that they are high-risk students. They talk about how for-profit institutions some how trap them into an education. They discuss the 90-10 rule and how a senator claims the GI BIll was left out due to a technicality. Along with the frustrations of finding a job, attempting to get my husband back to s…

Budgets and Divides on Campus

There are lots of articles and research out there on how institutions of higher education can solve budget problems. I was reading this article, and I thought it was rather well-written and explained a lot about the research of budget cutting. And then I read the comments (there were 13 when I read them). There are many comments about the "problems" in higher ed, such as unions or administration or "student services" (I like that it was put in quotes).
I read Inside Higher Ed a lot, mainly because there is no subscription fee, and I cannot really afford to subscribe to The Chronicle of Higher Education. While the articles can be amazing and discuss really interesting topics, I find the comments (and sometimes the articles) to be in two or three categories (disclaimer: broad generalizations are coming, entire papers could be done on each topic). The first is faculty. They generally have the highest degree attainable in their field and they either focus on research o…

First-year Needs

When I was a Resident Assistant I primarily worked with First-Year Students. It was such a great experience! You could really see the students developfrom high school students into (mostly) independent adults. I didn't know much about theory back then, but it was clear that their behavior and attitudes changed throughout the two semesters of living in the First-Year Residence Hall Program. Now that I look back, it was a great program and some-what ground breaking. I participated in a professional-level committee for piloting a campus-wide first-year residential experience. We utilized programs from around the country and it was great to see work at that level while I was still a student.
There was a blog post this morning about first-year programming and the needs of first year students. All of what she states is true, the transition from high school to college can be difficult and overwhelming. First-year programming generally tries to alleviate a lot of the stress and provides a …

An Opportunity to Move On

Once upon a time I worked in an office environment, at Gold Institution. Initially I loved my job, I enjoyed working for my supervisor, learning new things, working with new clients, and using my skills. My supervisor, Greta, was amazing. She was well-educated, well-spoken, and believed in learning from mistakes and not punishing them. While working for Greta I also picked up a part-time job doing some consulting work, I needed to take two days off in order to finish the project for the consulting position. Greta immediately granted my request and wanted to know more about what I was doing and how she could better utilize my skills.
Greta was let go shortly after that due to both politics and reorganization. My supervisor then changed to Jane. Jane was a control freak, in many ways. Any mistake or oversight was looked over to the nth degree and I was given many talkings-to. I was given "freedom" to do many new things, because of the reorganization, but everything, and I mean…

Critically thinking about restaurants

Restaurant: There are some opportunities available at a restaurant (Marge's) including bartending, serving, and managing. I know (or rather knew, they are no longer there) two manager at Marge's, as does my General Manager (GM), and I offered to bartend a few days a week (they had lost all but 2). My offer was rejected, which is Marge's management's choice, and I accepted gracefully.
I recently heard a few new things about Marge's; one was that it was dirty, not in a health inspector sense, but in that it hasn't been kept up by staff and management. Another was that ticket times, the amount of it time takes for the server to input the food to the time the food leaves the kitchen, was unacceptable. The last one I heard was surprising, and that was that all of the staff members seemed to really like their GM. This was surprising because through previous conversations I was told that the GM was difficult to work for, had certain idiosyncrasies that made it difficul…

Research, veterans, and passion

My thesis from my Master's Program is on the transition veterans experience going from active duty to full-time student at a four-year institution. My husband inspired the original research, he was attending a local institution (ABC) for a degree in engineering. He had several years of experience from the Navy directly related to his new field and although this ABC refused to grant him very much credit for his experience and previous schooling, he was excited. He attended a few classes, always one at a time (he jokes he's on the 12 year plan), and we found various roadblocks and attitudes that kept him from enjoying his time on ABC's campus. One instructor's actions made me so mad I had to keep myself from calling him, his supervisor, and his supervisor's supervisor. 
So, I started doing research, and found that there wasn't much research on how to help students who are veterans or military personnel. I did find a few organizations who wanted to help veterans, H…

10,000 B.C.E. and The Tropics

10,000 B.C.E.: Ok, not really that long ago, more like the early 1990s. The computers went down at work during a lunch this week. It revealed a lot about what the past few years has taught me, mainly: don't panic. While going to graduate school, planning a wedding, and working 30 hours the main goal was to the get through the day/hour/course/reading/shift. It requires flexibility, multitasking, and leadership. Flexibility to change plans, schedules, meals, etc. At first I thought the whole experience taught me a lot about my coworkers, but then I reflected and realized it showed me a lot about myself.
If a shift runs long or a reading takes more time than set aside, other things need to move around. The computers were down, so we had to write down our orders, hand them to the kitchen, do our own calculations, and so on. Multitasking was a huge skill, because while driving home I had to figure out what was next, or days off required laundry, dinner, reading, and preparing for work. …

A Master's Degree vs. The Job Market

Some might wonder a few things about my Master's degree. Generally the first question is, what is my "major" or degree. I have an MS in Administration with a Concentration in Higher Education Student Affairs, or Higher Education Administration for short.
The next question, or statement, is about what I want to do. People hear the word "education" and assume I want to teach or work in administration in a secondary education institution. That's a tricky question to answer in Higher Ed terms, but I usually explain it that I want to work with college students. Technically I do want to teach, but not necessarily in a traditional classroom setting, I want to teach through advising, mentoring, and experiencing. I want to help students develop into better people, students, and community members, which is a form of teaching. But, I want to "teach" while sitting in a supportive office, not by standing in front of a class (with my current job, I've had en…

Ground rules

Well, I didn't get the job. So the Job Hunt continues! This post isn't going to be about disappointment or frustration, but about ground rules. I recently discovered that not having rules in place works only when the other party plays by similar rules. For example, if a personal rule is to not have raw meat on the bathroom counter, a living situation doesn't work out well when another party uses the bathroom to thaw meat.
During my job search I've placed a few rules upon myself. The following list isn't in any particular order, except for the first one. 1) Only apply to positions that I will enjoy doing. I went to school in order to do my job well and to do something I love. I will continue to search for a position that allows me to fulfill those criteria. 2) Apply to positions in certain locations. I started in the Rochester and Buffalo areas, and have now expanded to Florida and the Virginia/D.C. region. 3) Money. I will not work for less than $30,000 a year for a…

Optimism and Hope

I had the second interview with the community college this week. It was truly a great experience. I met a leader with whom I hope to truly work. He was the true "macromanager", as I read about in an article a few weeks ago. He has a creative (a.k.a. liberal arts) background, not administrative. He believes and trusts in his people, and the focus is both getting the job done as well as supporting the people who do that job. While it is only a part-time position, I would happily and gratefully accept the position if it is offered to me.
We talked about a lot of things, leadership style, learning style, as well as personal likes, dislikes and hobbies. I learned about him as a person and as a leader, and I hope he learned something as well. He asked about my long-term goals, and I was pretty frank with him, although that's not always something recommended. I told him right now I'm looking for just about anything that will help me get into the profession, part-time or full…

A week of new things

Two weeks ago this Monday (tomorrow) I had my second interview of the job search. It was with a small community college in the area for a part-time job.
The interview was an interesting experience. There were five professional staff members on the interview panel, most of who have worked at the college for about five years, and many of who have done the job the interview was for. I had to ask for some of the essential information, such as how many hours the position required and where the position would be located (as there is more than one location for the institution). Most of the people in the interview wore very casual clothing, such as Capri pants and flip-flops, which was surprising, but also shows a relaxed work culture. There were beverages available as well as a few food items, mostly muffins. During the interview they told me that they would forward their recommendations onto the position's supervisor and that he would call me if interested in a second interview. The pos…

Welcome to the frustration

I received my Master's Degree in December of 2010, and have been searching for a position since then. As of this posting I have applied to 30 different postings since January first, and have had only two interviews.

Back to the beginning: I want to work in Higher Education/Student Affairs. Meaning: I want to work with college students in some capacity. At first I wanted to work specifically with veterans (as that was the focus of my thesis), and then I expanded my search to adults, veterans, and first-year students. Now, I look for anything interesting for which I might be qualified.

I have applied to several local institutions, some of which post on national job search websites and other which only accept application materials through email. Since we are working on Month 8 of my job hunt, I figured I would start writing about it. I won't mention institution names or specific job postings, but I hope that the few people who will read this blog will find my insights and frustra…