The Start of Something

Today marked the start of the Fall semester at UMD. We’re starting a whole week early. No more starting after Labor Day for our campus. I supervise the Peer Educators who work in our office. These students are primarily juniors, with a few sophomores and seniors thrown in there. This is a group of students (this semester 7) who primarily assist other students who would like help on their resumes. The group does so much more than that though.

Today, the Peers met for the first time as a group. We covered the craziness of job fair season that we are entering (just to prepare people). We also just spent a good amount of time getting to know one another. I had the “brilliant” idea that when people introduced themselves they ask the group a question. Yeah, that took so much more time than I anticipated. Oh well, in the long run it’ll be worth it that we spent the time laying the groundwork for the year.

I see the potential in the group as a whole.
I see that we all have room to grow (including myself).
I see that each person brings her or his strengths.
I see opportunity for challenge and support.
I see great things from each of these students both in and out of our office.
I see that we’ve got a great team of Peer Educators for 2015-16.

Most of all, I’m happy to be their supervisor and I can’t wait to see what happens this year!

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Summer Road Trip – Universities

Wow, this summer has just flown by! I’ve spent most of my time working (so many fun projects) and crafting, reading, and Netflix binging during my free time. In July, I went on vacation for 2 glorious weeks. I visited family and friends while roadtripping out to see my dear friend Kristen who lives in northeastern Ohio. I had great weather and great driving the whole time. My favorite accomplishment of the whole trip (and I think it earned admiration from many people) – not checking my work email the ENTIRE time I was out of the office. Talk about awesome.

Anyway, one of the accidental themes of my trip was Universities. I visited 5 of them. Yes, 5. I love checking out other campuses, walking around and taking photos. It’s rather relaxing. I visited St. Mary’s University and University of Notre Dame both in South Bend, IN, along with Kent State University, Baldwin-Wallace University (both in NE Ohio), and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As I was planning my trip, I purposefully scheduled a night to stay in South Bend, Indiana. It was a half-way point in my driving (Madison, WI-Akronish, OH) and it’s the home to the University of Notre Dame. Once I booked my hotel, I realized it was on the campus of St. Mary’s University – Notre Dame’s sister school. I walked around both university campuses and took so many photos. I had lovely weather, so I just soaked up the atmosphere at both places. Both universities are Catholic and I enjoyed seeing how the religious imagery was incorporated around campus.

St Mary's 1

St Mary’s University

St Mary's University

St Mary’s University

Notre Dame 1

Fighting Irish

Library at University of Notre Dame

Library at University of Notre Dame

Administration building at University of Notre Dame

Administration building at University of Notre Dame

Once I made it to Kristen’s she showed me around Kent State University, where she went to grad school and now works. Another beautiful campus. We also walked around the May 4th Memorial and I learned how such a painful part of the campus’s history is used and talked about to this day.

Kent State University

Kent State University

May 4th Memorial at Kent State

Part of the May 4th Memorial at Kent State

Later in my visit with Kristen, she took me around Baldwin-Wallace University near Cleveland where she did a stint as an intern during grad school. No great pictures from that visit because it was raining and we just drove through the campus.

The last campus I visited was UW-Madison. I met up with some friends on The Terrace of Memorial Union for a mini-ACPA reunion. It was nice to catch up with them. I also just enjoyed the summer weather, sitting by the lake, and walking around campus. I forgot how much I love the atmosphere of that campus. I worked at UW for a year during my grad school internship, but I didn’t totally get to enjoy working there. I was so busy with doing stuff for my internship (plus working another job, living a decent commute away, and finishing up grad school), that I didn’t really take advantage of being at UW. If I were ever to take the plunge back into working at a Division 1, Research institution, UW might be the place to do it. However, I have no plans on doing that anytime soon.

UW-Madison

UW-Madison

The Terrace & Lake Mendota at UW-Madison

The Terrace & Lake Mendota at UW-Madison

Overall, I loved this portion of my trip. My campuses visited list is now up to 24!

Announcements – Just want to wish a few fellow bloggers congratulations!

  • Laura started a new blogging venture called A Two Dog Life. Loving it already!
  • Stephanie welcomed a bundle of joy named George into the world.

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)?

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?

ACPA 14 – Reinvent in Indy

Hello all! Last week I had the great privilege of attending my third ACPA (American College Personnel Association aka College Student Educators International) National Convention. I’m still in the process of digesting and reflecting upon the conference. I’m hoping to legitimately put some new ideas from this conference into practice. This year’s national convention took place in Indianapolis. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, just in time to enjoy some nice weather for a few days. I even broke out capris and sandals! Sunday afternoon was the official opening to the convention. The president of the association spoke briefly, followed by 3 keynotes who gave TED style talks (18 minutes around a singular idea).  Of the 3 keynotes, my favorite was Erik Qualman – the author of Socialnomics.

Indy from capitol steps

Here are some ideas I thought were worth sharing – right from my notes.

Shape + achieve + lead = our students thriving

I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever met. What am I offering to them? –> This thought is very similar to one shared by one of my professors during grad school. We are just one part of a person’s journey, for how ever long they need us, and vice versa.

Empowerment is not a single interaction.

Cultural journeys don’t happen all at once.

How do our own identities help or hinder our work?

IN with sandals

The rest are from Erik’s part of opening.

Social media networks are not technology tools. They are relationship tools (Amen!)

We each have a digital stamp. Our digital stamp equals our digital footprint (what we post ourselves) plus our digital shadow (what other people post about us).

Digital leaders are made, not born.

Be FLAWsome. Basically, own up to our mistakes and take measures to correct them.

opening

Overall, opening was great. Very inspiring, as always. There’s so much energy when you’re around a couple thousand people who do similar work as you and you’re all committing a few days to think big, learn, and reflect upon that work. As I process and reflect upon the rest of the conference I hope to share those thoughts here.

The Love and Hate of February

I really do have a love-hate relationship with February. I love it because it’s the opportunity to watch students I’ve been working with blossom and go after opportunities they find for internships and first jobs. It’s fun to help them prepare for and calm the nerves at career fairs. This year, I also have a hate relationship with February. It’s only the 5th and I already hate it. Really, I could lump the last 2 weeks of January into this feeling. I’m busy, but I’m busy with the minutiae of the day. I read my email and a few career blog posts, set up tweets for the day, edit and get a blog post ready if needed, review resumes, have appointments and meetings, work at resume drop-ins, etc., and all of a sudden, the day is done and I go home feeling like I haven’t accomplished very much. I have a list of things to do and things are getting added faster than I can cross them off. The killer part is, is that I really do want to do most of the added items. I find them interesting, thought provoking, and challenging. I’ve said yes to extra things (like presenting at the Kirby Leadership Institute Conference on campus and events happening in relation to Eric Stoller’s visit next week) because I want to be a part of a bigger conversation on my campus. When will I hit the point of too much? Am I there? Some days it feels like it. I feel like my students, who are pulled in a million different directions…because they are awesome leaders on campus. Some days I have the random thought of how great it would be to not have appointments. I’d get so much done. Then I remind myself why I got into the profession…because of the students. I love helping them realize their dreams and how to practically get there. What’s frustrating is when I have a student scheduled for an appointment and they don’t show up. It’s the constant start and stop and not being able to really dig into a project that bugs me. And yet, I don’t want to have to bring my work home just so that I have time to work on it. That’s not fair to me and my time.

I just have to remember that February will end and I will survive. There are some great things scheduled for February. I’m especially excited about Eric Stoller’s visit to campus. I hope it serves as the kick in the butt that our campus needs to seriously get talking about a cross-campus approach to social media. It needs to happen and I very much want to (and need to) be a part of the conversation. Maybe I’ll just start with making a to-do list.