3 Years a Bulldog

This week I’m celebrating my 3 year anniversary at UMD. All week I’ve been thinking about writing this post and have been struggling with what I want to write.

Me with champ

Yep, still struggling.

Here’s the nitty gritty. I love my job. I don’t know if I can really put it any other way so simply. 3 years in and I still feel challenged by my position. Challenged in a good way.

I’m excited to see where the next year takes me. The core of my work will be very similar to previous years and some of it will be different. I’m taking on some new roles including with the Commission for Women on campus and with our U of M Job Fair Committee. These new roles should be fun and I’ll get to do more work with people outside of my office.

Here’s to year 4!

Full Circle with my Undergrad Degree

As an undergrad, I earned a degree in Communication with a minor in Management from UW-Eau Claire. Could I have picked two broader topics to pair together? My emphasis in Communication was Organizational Communication, which is the study of how communication happens within an organization. Another way of looking at it is – the human side of business. Between my major and minor I pretty much studied the same topic, from two different schools of thought. It was fascinating at the time (and still is), and if I had to choose today, I’d probably minor in marketing. At the time of choosing the Comm/Mgmt combo, I had my heart set on going into Human Resources. I was a big fan of training and recruiting and wanted to do both of those things full-time. I had an epiphany about half-way through senior year that I didn’t want to go into HR anymore. My Organizational Change and Development class (aka: mergers and acquisitions) was what did it for me. I knew I could do the work, but that I wouldn’t love it. And that, the loving it part, was so important to me. So back to the drawing board I went. Luckily, I worked in Career Services so I had plenty of resources available to me to research what else I could do with my degree in Communication. The answer: pretty much anything (well, not really “anything,” but my options were pretty wide open). It was during this exploration process that I figured out I wanted to become a career counselor.

BW UWEC Mug

Even though I had to complete another degree after undergrad, I use my undergrad degree every. single. day. Here are my basic job duties: work with students 1:1 and in groups, run the office social media, and supervise students who work in the office. The beauty of my broad major/minor combo, is that I learned a broad range of skills that can adapt to the changing job economy needs. I thoroughly understand the process of communication, so I can easily apply it to different methods (in person, print, online, etc.). Management happens in practically every job environment in some fashion, so I was bound to come into a management role at some point in my career. Even my original HR intentions (recruiting & training), I do as a part of my current role. All of these awesome connections weren’t in my original job description (some were) when I was hired (being in a brand new position has allowed me to do some molding with what I do), but I have a supervisor who recognizes that I have strengths that aren’t strictly tied to higher education and career counseling. Yay!

Okay, now here’s the why for this post. I share this story with students a lot to show a couple things: that you don’t always end up where you initially intended, find a major that will help you achieve a broad range of skills, and to be careful with broad majors because you do have to add some definition to them to figure out what you want to do. You don’t have to have it all figured out at 18, or 22, or 30. Personally, I love that I’ve been able to make my two degrees work so well together. Of the career counselors who work in my office, I’m the only one who’s undergrad background isn’t psychology or education. I love that I bring a little bit different flavor to the work that I do with students.

How do you still use your earlier degree(s)?

Time by the Lake

Sunday was absolutely beautiful. Warm, cozy sunshine, a calm lake, and the itch to spend some time outside were all great reasons to do a small trip up the shore. I ventured up just past Two Harbors (about 20-25 miles north of Duluth) and just enjoyed the sunshine and some time by the water. Lake Superior was soooo calm. It was a picture perfect day.

Lake Superior FeetFlood Bay 6.2014

Fun with the Camera

Yesterday was such a beautiful day here in Duluth. The sunshine was very welcomed after 3 straight days of rain and fog. I grabbed my camera and drove down to the Rose Garden by the Lake after work. Some of the “early spring” flowers are in bloom right now. For me, having some time with my camera, walking around the Rose Garden, and sitting on the beach are all happy places for me. So relaxing. Not that my day was super stressful. :) Here are some of my favorite photos.

Yellow flower 2

Yellow flower 1

Yellow flower 3

water and rocks

duluth

Joy of Coffee Meetings

I heart coffee meetings. I really don’t know when this started. It maybe could have been having homework sessions at Borders (back when it still existed) during undergrad. Yeah, that is probably where it started – I was associating getting coffee and being in a coffee shop with being productive.

Fast forward 10-11 years later and one of my favorite ways to meet up with people is to get a coffee. It signals to me that it’s time to get something done. Even if that “something” is simply visiting with a friend. In my book, you can’t really go wrong with having a purpose and a little caffeination.

Coffee

I have a couple friends/colleagues on campus who I regularly (or semi-regularly) have coffee meetings with. The meetings started off as a chance to chat about social media and exchange ideas. They have since morphed to discussing social media, the campus, the profession in general, and our own professional development needs, wants, dilemmas, and dreams. I wouldn’t trade these meetings for anything. I make the time during my busy week to meet with these friends/colleagues because I know that it’s good for my own mental health and I often come back to the office with clarity and new ideas. Networking and relationship maintenance at its finest.

An hour and $5 well spent.

Last week I got to have 3 “coffee meetings.” I added the quotes because they weren’t all in the format of my traditional coffee meeting. One “meeting” was just me sitting in the coffee shop busting out a ton of work on my performance eval. Another meeting was with my student employee to discuss summer projects and didn’t involve coffee or the coffee shop, but the meeting had a similar purpose. The last was a true coffee meeting and we walked 10 minutes off campus to the new Starbucks that just opened. Having a Starbucks that close to campus is going to be dangerous this summer. Delicious, but so dangerous.

So, I encourage you to find your own “coffee meetings.” Have someone on-campus you’ve been wanting to meet or reconnect with, invite them to get a cup of coffee with you. There could be worse ways to spend an hour and $5.

Using Summer To Think Big

Yay it’s summer. Well, not really. But it’s summer in terms of academia. My work load in summer shifts quite a bit. During the normal school year, I have 1:1 appointments, 7-8 students to supervise, classroom presentations, social media to run, and emails to wrangle. During the summer, I have random 1:1 appointments, 1 student to supervise, social media to run, and fewer emails to wrangle. Summer is my time to think big and dig deep into projects. I have “Futuristic” as one of my top 5 Strengths, so I pretty much start thinking about my “summer” list in early Spring semester. My goal for this year was to not have too many items on my list so that I could be more open to whatever came up. I ran into that issue last year. I had this huge list of projects I wanted to accomplish and 2 major things happened as the summer unfolded – as an office we identified several new in-depth objectives we wanted to work on and I fell in love with Twitter data and analyzation. Well, my grand plan didn’t really work. I have a decent list of projects to work on, but most of them I’m doing with the assistance of one of my students.

After looking through my list of projects to work on over the summer, I realized that they broke down nicely into 5 different areas. I thought it would be good to share as many other Student Affairs/Higher Education folks may be looking for a way to dig deeper into their work this summer.

  • Training and other professional development I want and/or need to do.
  • Projects my boss wants me to tackle (like writing an office communication plan).
  • Things that need updating (usually yearly items).
  • Processes that can be established or worked ahead on that will make life easier once the school year starts.
  • Whole office projects that can’t really be predicted.

My method for tackling my summer to-do list goes somewhat like this: what I need to do, what I want to do, where do I need or want help, and what is more of a pipe dream. Right now, I’m actually working on getting my performance evaluation done and am itching to start tackling my summer projects. One of my first major things to tackle is doing some work on the office blog and analyzing data about all of our social media efforts from the past year. Scratch that, my first major thing was working up a list of things for my student to work on. It’s my first summer having a student dedicated to working on projects with me. Yay! Normally, my students, the Peer Educators, don’t work. But earlier this spring, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in having one of my students help me get some stuff done this summer. I answered with a resounding “YES!” I ended up asking the first student who had inquired about working during the summer much earlier in the spring semester (we have 2 of our students who work our front desk throughout the summer). He also happened to be the Peer whose skills matched the projects I need assistance with. Win-win.

So what does your quiet time of the year look like? Big projects, small projects, just catching your breath?

Spring Cleaning

Happy Spring! Just checking in with you all. I’ve been a little quiet on here lately…mostly because I’ve been lacking a bit of motivation to write (and busy with the end of the semester). Social media and blogging are such a large portion of my job, that I don’t necessarily always feel motivated to do it outside of work. In fact, with the exception of Pinterest, I’m most active on Facebook and Instagram outside of work (the two platforms I don’t have to use in my job). That being said, I want to use the Spring and Summer to figure out what I want this little corner of the internet to be. I recently started working my way through the A Beautiful Mess e-course “Blog Life” with the idea in mind to reignite my love of blogging for both work and personal. It’s a little like spring cleaning. Getting the dust of things, purging what isn’t working, and embracing what you love and motivates you. So, thanks for sticking around. :)

Hostas