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Reflections on 2013

As this year comes to a close, I want to share some reflections on 2013. I’ve worked hard to make them positive. Some of them were harder than others to make positive. I’ve also added in a few “hopes” (not resolutions!) for 2014. This isn’t an exhaustive list (nor is it in any particular order), just some of the items that made 2013 the year it was.

I miss using my brain, but when I started reading for fun again I remembered what it was like to relax. I hope I can continue to make progress on and time for things that make me happy. The universe talks to us, we just have to listen and be brave enough to take the jump.  I’m hoping to listen to it more. I still love watching student succeed. I might not be a professional in Student Affairs, but I love the field and the work we do. I love the change we can make in this world. My husband is a kind, hard-working person who cares a lot about me. We’ve had a seriously questionable year, but we’ve made it through it. We joke that we get too far ah…

Dear Pre-Grad School Me

I don’t have a lot of regrets. My choices have made me who I am today. However, knowing some of the things I know now would have helped me earlier in life. If I could get a letter to myself at any point, it would be as I was applying and going to grad school. So, if a time machine is ever invented, I would request that the inventor take the letter below to me during my Junior year of college.

Dear Pre-Grad School Me:
Get a real assistantship. You can find assistantships on job search sites for the local universities (I know you don’t know this yet). If you don’t know what something is ask a faculty member. Try at least two assistantships. Ask questions, gain diverse experiences, talk to as many people as possible. Don’t rush through the program. Yes, grad school is expensive, but learning takes time. Find a balance. It’s so important to find a balance between classes and life. The habits you pick up during grad school will continue in your work and life, regardless of if you’re working i…

Careers in Student Affairs Month

As October comes to a close I think it's time I write my thoughts about Careers in Student Affairs month. As a (hopeful) professional, I'm always surprised when this month comes around with all of the blog posts and tweets reminding me about the "awareness". I'm not aware of this month of awareness for my profession until it is upon me, and that is probably a problem.
I don't think we should have an "awareness month". There. I said it. I think an awareness month for a career is stupid. Who do we do it for? We do it for ourselves and no one else; the students we work with are aware of us as professionals, and if they aren't then we should reevaluate how we work with them. The university, at least most of it, should be aware of us. They might not like us or agree with the work we do, but they know we exist. Our parents might think we're professors or babysitters or whatever else, but if they don't understand then, again, we should reevaluat…

Trailing Spouse

My name is Chelsea, and I am a trailing spouse.
But you haven’t moved! Well, no, but we did buy a house. We made a conscious decision to be in a place.
But you have access to two job markets! Yeah, and? The market is so saturated with Master’s degrees and people with experience. I’ve been looking on-and-off for three years, applied to over 100 positions, had less than 10 interviews, and 2 job offers.
So, you could move, right? Your husband has skills and can be employed elsewhere, right? Yes, but then we’re both unemployed. I need to make enough as an entry-level professional to support us as we move.
But you have experience! Yes, but no. I have experience serving tables, which means customer service. I have experience working with students, but not in a one-on-one capacity, and many positions require that in the job description. I have no staff supervisory experience, as I only supervise student workers.
So where would you move? Well, I could make decent money in Florida, but then we’d…

Observations on Leaders

The past few months have put me in some new positions to observe different leaders in different situations. Some of these leaders, are supervisors or managers, but all are put in positions of leadership, regardless of if they uphold the ideal traits of a Leader. We all have our ideal Leaders, people we think are great at not only managing people, but leading people professionally and personally. They are the people we want managing us. Forbes has a list of the 100 Best Quotes on Leadership Here are some of my thoughts on what makes a “good” leader and some downfalls that can happen to “bad” leaders.
Be Confident Good: A good leader is not only confident in themselves but also in the people he or she leads. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to fail, and it’s ok to succeed, but a leader needs to be confident that the outcome will be ok, regardless of the process. Fake it til you make it. Bad: If the leader doesn’t believe in his or her people, decisions, and company how can anyone else?
Be Pr…

Frustration and Failure

This isn't going to be one of my polished posts with structure and proper opening sentences for paragraphs. Because, well, because it's my blog and therefore should be a reflection of me and today I am not structured or polished. I smell bad and I'm sore and all I really want to do is go on vacation and sleep in in the sun.

Today started well, I bought two bagels (toasted with butter, please) and walked into work. Ate my bagels while checking my email, and remembered I RSVP'd to a free breakfast. So I bought breakfast even though I didn't need to, no big deal. I talked to someone important about something important to me, and he said he was going to take it to someone even more important. So, that's two wins, right? I also had (free) lunch during a meeting. I guess that makes today +3.

Then we had a rather large event, which I can't go to because our overtime has been (significantly) reduced. I rely on some really awesome student workers, but I feel so help…

Lost

In my last post I talked about the frustration of a broken social contract, and it seemed to be a continued theme with other articles about the same thing. Many other people are lost in this world and many are worse off than me in many ways.

This past week we lost a great dog. Daisy was the center of our home life for years, we made decisions around her and structured our lives based on her needs. Even my morning routine had several stops along the way to take care of Daisy. Our evening routine typically consisted of “bedtime potty” and encouraging her to go, and if it was raining we had to decide who was going to let her out in the middle of the night. So we’ve lost many of our routines and are finding new ones.
My husband lost his job this week as well. While it does make things more financially difficult, it’s more about another routine broken, minutes and hours are lost in trying to find new routines. We’re looking to lose less money on things, cutting back on spending, making sure …

How's it Feel to Want?

While I enjoy learning from working as a staff assistant in an academic department, I still look for professional positions. The nice thing about where I live is that it gives me access to two different job regions, all within an hour commute. My current position gives me access to a lot of professional development training along with the ability to sit on committees with a wide variety of professionals across campus and the school. I really enjoy working at my current university, it’s very student-centric with student success as the most important goal. I truly believe that almost all student can succeed in the right program with the right support, so I think I fit into the culture well and I’d love to stay here.

I’m usually a fairly positive person, I can (usually) find the silver lining and keep a good attitude when all else seems lost. Lately, however, I’ve taken job rejections really hard, almost personally. I’ve been applying for jobs now since 2010, sometimes more actively tha…

Enough is Never Enough

We’ve all “had enough”. It’s when we get to the highest point of frustration, when we can’t go on any further because of someone or something. We’ve all said “enough is enough” when we’ve worked and worked and worked at something and someone or something still needs more. But I want to talk about something bigger, not just us as individuals, but as, say, a department.
We work towards our own departmental goals, graduation rates or creating new classes or the newest trend. We work with other departments and sometimes we rely on those other departments. I was in a meeting where this scenario came up: Professor Flowers suggested we create a new class (focusing on safety and usage) to allow students from Basket Weaving (BW) to use the Post-it Note Making (PITNM) supplies. Right now students from PITNM cannot use BW supplies, but Professor Flowers decided it was time for us to break down the silos and start collaborating for the sake of our students. Professor Coffee stated that while it’s …

Graduation Traditions

Image
My sister recently graduated from Syracuse University. It was the first graduatation I’ve been able to actually attend. I didn’t go to the actual graduation, but I did attend their University Convocation. There was a nice program that described the ceremony and it was beautifully captioned. But I noticed how many things I translated to my parents.

Some background, I guess, is needed first. My dad has some sort of Bachelor’s degree, my mom has some college classes and a bunch of certificates but no degree. I didn’t attend the May ceremony for my undergraduate degree, but I did walk across the stage for my Master’s.

Some items I found interesting
So, the program stated that the robes that were being worn date back to monks or some nonsense. I could go get my history of higher ed book, but I remember pretty clearly that part of class. This “regalia” we wear is made up. We’ve made it up. We have no idea why we wear it, we just do. I did explain the difference between the Master’s hoods and …

My Plea to Development

Good morning,

I'm writing to you today with a plea. Please stop calling me every two or three months with the pretense of updating my information and then asking for money. I owe over $75,000 in debt, and while I made that choice and I am responsible for that money, I don't have extra to give back to you right now. I work as a secretary with a Master's degree because the job market is so rough for higher ed right now. I probably won't have enough money for another 10 years. When I do have that money, you can bet that I'll give back.
I understand the studies that show if Development has relationships with young alumni, that those alumni are more willing to give once they have more income. I understand the need to update my information to make sure I'm still living and breathing and am (maybe) still employed. I appreciate the hard work it takes to develop an Annual Fund and I understand the need for the financial assistance given to students. I was one of those s…

Career Path

Right now something that’s important at work is career paths. My title is seemingly part of a larger career ladder, but there is no official “career ladder”. I recently attended a meeting where someone from Human Resources claimed that it was being worked on. She also said that they were looking at careers here as a whole, not just as a linear line. She explained that people of my position may not go directly up the career ladder (whatever that is) but may climb through a network of different positions and responsibilities.

I appreciate that someone is thinking in terms of the big picture. Not all people who are staff assistants are really meant to be staff assistants in 15 years. Some want somewhere to go, new challenges, better pay. Some may be comfortable doing it for the next 20 years, and that’s a good thing because we all need competent assistants.

My career path hasn’t been much of a path, it’s been more like a jungle gym. I’ve gone piece to piece hoping that I’m on the right pla…

Identity: Education

I took a class once that explored identity and one of the first assignments was to think about our individual identities and the borders we cross every day. I don't remember what I said exactly, but they were probably the obvious ones. This past week I discovered a new boundary that I cross, an identity that I was ignoring. One that has been very painful to discover and one I felt I had to apologize for, which was probably just as painful as the discovery. The identity, the border I cross, is one of education.
I put myself through school, both undergrad and graduate school. My parents took out loans that I now pay every month. I am the most educated person in my immediate family, the only other person related to me by blood, who is also as educated, is my uncle (I think). As for my in-laws, I am the most educated, minus a few of my husband's cousins.
I never considered this a border to cross, something that would cause problems. I've known most of these people since before …

Why help veterans?

“For the life of me I don't understand this political and media urge to cull the veteran out of the college pack. College campuses are made up of many cohort groups. Older, Married, Minority, Disabled, Non-Trad, just to name a few. Yet they are able to maintain and use the services that the college is providing to all students. This isn't our first Rodeo, we have all had Vets on our campus since WWII and have never set them aside for this kind of special treatment or attention. So why is the Vet so special to get all this special attention and not the rest of the groups? Is it because they have such a lucrative GI Bill that politicals want us to monitor and defend how it is being spent, much like Pells and Loans?”
Is the first comment to this article.
I’ve been thinking about addressing this, but at first I was stumped. Why is the veteran so special? Why do I want to help this group? Why should anyone help this group? They can consider themselves just students, so why should we …

I blame Russo (and music)

I blame Russo, and music and band, but more specifically Russo.

I blame her for, in part, my work ethic. I don’t like to miss work, or anything for that matter. I show up, in a decent mood, ready and willing to do what is needed every day. If I can make the drive to work, I can work.

I blame her for the need to constantly improve. The song can always be improved upon, the player can always master the instrument better. I can practice, and practice, and practice, and not be frustrated by not mastering something. For example (just one of many), I recently learned to drive a manual transmission. I was in the parking lot for over an hour, my husband became frustrated, then bored, and then napped. I wasn’t going to leave the parking lot until I had mastered it enough to be comfortable on the street. I tried over, and over, and over. I notice improvement, and I challenge myself more.

I blame her for my need of learning. Because I can always improve, it means I can always learn. There are al…