1st Day, Post-Internship

This is my very first weekday after finishing up my internship at UW-Madison. It was kind of odd not to make the hour drive to Madison, to not sit in traffic on the Beltline, to not see students, and most of all, to not see my co-workers at the Letters & Science Career Services office. I spent the day at my parents’ and went shopping in the Twin Cities (MN) with my mom and sister (which was awesome!).
During my shopping outing, I received the best tweet ever from my co-intern, Jason, and just wanted to share it.
Jason Brown

@SJBrown8 Jason Brown
Finishing last 3 days of internship w/o the most awesome co-intern who is going on to be a superstar. You are dearly missed @ellen_hatfield
I had been waiting for my mom and sister to check out at a store and was just occupying my time by checking Twitter on my phone. I was completely touched. Jason and I were comrads during our internship experiences and it would have been such a lesser experience without him there.
Personally, I think he’s going to be a superstar too!
Do you ever have little things happen to you, that just completely make your day or week? 

Last Day to be an Intern

Tomorrow is officially my last day of being an intern…ever. Well, I hope ever. I guess we’ll see if that holds true if I decide to tackle another degree in the future (the thoughts of a Doctorate have flitted in and out of my mind throughout the past year). I’ll be wrapping up my internship with a few student appointments, cleaning out my office spaces (yes, spaces depending on the day of the week), and having a site visit with my faculty supervisor and site supervisor. It’ll be a busy day. Thankfully, the goodbyes will be postponed until next week when we have our end of the year/graduation celebration with all of our staff and student workers (undergrad & grad).

I want to do a full reflection/recap post once I’m “officially” done with both the position and the internship class. Until then, I do have a few revelations to share with you:

At this point in my career, I prefer working for a smaller public university. Smaller as in 10,000 to 15,000 for the student population. My internship at UW-Madison consisted of over 40,000 students for the whole campus with our college having around 17,000 students. However, how many grad students can say that they’ve worked for campuses with: 1500; 11,000; and 40,000+ student populations? This girl can. 🙂

I may never be an official Badger (on payroll or as a student), and I’ve come to learn, respect, embrace, and enjoy some the traditions that belong to this University. UW will always be part of my history and I love that.

I am so NOT a commuter. I didn’t totally hate the hour drive and I didn’t love it either. I prefer not to spend 2 hours of my day on road just to go between work and home. I’m stoked that my new “commute” is less than 5 miles!

As an intern, I felt connected to the people in the office and not always totally to everything our office had going on. I don’t know if that makes sense at all. Here’s a typical day: I come in, say hi to everyone, do some chit chatting, see students, lunch – maybe with someone or by myself (depending on the day), see more students, go home. That schedule didn’t leave a ton of time to be on any of the smaller committees in the office or to collaborate with other staffers on presentations or programming. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I did. I was just tied to the number of hours that I had to fulfill for my program internship (240 direct contact, 600 total). To be honest, most days were absolutely exhausting. It wasn’t all resumes with people going into accounting (which honestly would have been kind of easy). Plus, accounting is housed in a different college. Majority of my students were facing trying to figure out what on earth they were going to do with their lives once they earned their diploma in May. Plus, their majors didn’t always equate to a specific career. Try to figure out quickly exactly what to do with: International Studies; Biology; History; Communication Arts; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; Philosophy; Scandianvian Studies; Classics; Social Welfare; Women’s Studies; or Zoology. I promise you, I worked with all of these majors on multiple occasions (well, except the Scandianvian Studies). The College of Letters & Science at UW has over 70 majors and they all seem to require extra work to get an accurate picture of what someone can do for a career. Exhausting? Yes. Rewarding? Absolutely. This is what I love to do. I love working with students to figure out what career path, or pathes, will be best for them…and then I help them to figure out a plan of attack to be successful in the career path. This is what I get to do for the rest of my life. Yay!  

Most of all, I’m going to miss the people I’ve worked with on almost a daily basis for the past 9 months. They may not realize it, but they’ve all helped me grow tremendously this past year in some way or another. I feel ready to take on my new professional role as a career counselor in June.

Okay, so I guess I just did quite a bit of reflecting. I didn’t even go this in-depth with my final reflection paper for class. I’m sure more reflections will surface the closer I am to graduation. Speaking of graduation, it’s only 2 weeks away! I’m so excited!

One Night in Madison

With how much time I’ve been spending in Madison for my internship, you’d think I would have taken in some other events on-campus besides work. Honestly, I really haven’t. This is sad for me because I believe that I should try to attend campus events as a way to support the university and the students I serve. However, grad school takes A LOT of time, so I’m hoping that the next position I’m in will allow me to enjoy university events more. Plus, with Madison, it’s an hour away from home and that takes away time from attending various events. This past Friday, I broke my streak and spent extra time in Madsion after I was done with work for the day. 🙂 My friend Amy, who’s in my program and also works at UW-Madison, and I decided to take in a Badger Men’s Hockey game. My one goal for my time at the UW was to attend a hockey game. I started to enjoy hockey while I attended UW-Eau Claire as an undergrad. Now, I’ve reached my goal!! The game did not disappoint. While the Badgers did loose to the Gophers on Friday night, it was still fun and I had a great time hanging out with Amy.

The rink from our original seats on the 3rd level

Go Badgers!

Kohl Center jumbotron

Badgers Goalie – from our relocation seats! There were empty seats on the first level of seating, so we scooped those up during the 2nd period.

Face off!

Prior to the game, Amy and I had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings on State Street. Yummy! It was nice to catch-up since we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks. After dinner we had some time to kill and we decided to walk up to the capitol building to check out all the protesting that had been happening all week. It was very much a: we came, we saw, we support, and let’s go to the hockey game type of trip.

Protesters in the rotunda of the capitol building

I experimented with some night shooting. The capitol building was too gorgeous to pass up photographing it.

Another night shot.


Growing Pains of Job Hunting

The job hunt has officially begun for this Student Affairs grad student. For the month of January, I focused on the prep work. I started researching schools, “finalized” my resume and wrote on my cover letter. At the beginning of January, I found this great position and besides the regular application materials, they were asking for a philosophy of career counseling. This was my mind: “What!? Okay, I can do this. I wrote my theory of counseling at the beginning of grad school. How tough can this be?” Writing a “philosophy” for any function area of higher education was not part of my grad program, so the idea was slightly new to me. I turned to Twitter and the awesome #sachat and #sagrad communities for some inspiration. There were some great individuals who sent ideas of how to start (just start writing my thoughts, think of a great interaction with a student & why was it special) and I even received a couple links to samples. All of these were helpful. I’ve worked from the same core ideas of career counseling for the past few years and sometimes it’s hard to put that all down on paper, worded coherently and beautifully. After brainstorming, I went back to that theory of counseling paper I wrote during my first semester (I really didn’t think it would be helpful…because what did I really know about counseling during my FIRST semester of grad school?!!)…and it was actually helpful. It turns out that I did know what I was talking about at the beginning of my program. At this moment in time, my philosophy still needs some final adjustments.

Writing the cover letter has been interesting. Cover letters can be hard to write. Plain and simple. I work with students every day helping them with their cover letters, so you’d think I’d have a handle on the darn document. I completely understand the purpose, and it can be hard to just totally lay your skills and experiences out there for other people to critique. They are hard because you want to talk about yourself without having the focus totally on you – you want the focus on what the job is requiring and how you meet those requirements. The cover letter did get written (it does need some final editing though). I started by ripping apart the job description to make sure that I was addressing everything in the required and preferred qualifications.

The actual “growing pains” of this whole process was my resume. I thought I was pretty solid on that because I’ve been updating it and seeking feedback on it throughout grad school. Last week, I sat down with my internship supervisor to get her take on everything. She ripped apart my resume…in a good way. She said I was underselling myself, my experiences, and my abilities, and by doing that, I wasn’t completely fulfilling the requirements of the job description. My resume is my baby. I’ve been working on it since the beginning on undergrad, so this was a bit tough to swallow at first. It’s not that my resume was bad. It just needed to be amped up to really stand out against the rest of the competition. Here’s an example of the transformation that has happened:

  • Original descriptive line: Coordinate Resume Dr. event where office staff members conduct brief resume review sessions with students in various locations on campus (3-4 times a semester)
  • Revised descriptive line: Revamped and coordinate Resume Dr. event consisting of collaboration with entities across campus (i.e. Library & Residence Life) and career staff working together to outreach to students, staff, and faculty

How did I do with the revision?

So now begins the real fun of job hunting: applying for jobs! I’m honestly excited about finding positions to apply for…and actually applying for them. The first official application will be sent out this weekend. Wish me luck!

On a slightly different note: yesterday my boss said that he wished he could hire me (post-grad school). I responded, I wish he could too, mostly because he’s been an amazing supervisor for the past 2.5 years. I hope that whoever my next supervisor is, that they will be just as awesome. 🙂 Alas, things don’t happen that nicely (getting hired in your GA department as a professional staff member) in higher education…especially when facing budget cuts and a potential hiring freeze.

Do you have any job hunting stories or good tips? I would love to hear them!

62 Days to Baltimore!

In 62 days I will be attending the ACPA (College Student Educators International) National Conference in Baltimore, MD. The theme is “Be More in B’more.” I love that idea of constantly pushing ourselves to be better in our work. I’m excited to have the opportunity to network in person with student affairs professionals from around the country. I will finally have the opportunity to meet a good number of the people that I follow on Twitter, in person!! I hope that by meeting in person, I can connect with these individuals even more to create a more solid professional support network. What I am most excited about is who my travel buddy will be for this trip. It is my friend, co-worker, and classmate, Stephanie. She has such great energy and has actually attended ACPA’s National Conference in the past. She’ll be a great person to be able to debrief with throughout the conference. One of our goals is to divide and conquer. We want to be able to attend as many different sessions as possible so that we can bring back as much information as we can to our office in Madison.

I’ll make sure to update you all on my trip to Baltimore as it approaches. It should be a fabulous (and exhausting) couple of days.

Baltimore, here I come!

Top 10 of 2010

With it nearing the end of 2010, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect upon my top 10 experiences of this year.

10. Put in another good year at my graduate assistantship in the Career & Leadership Development office at UW-Whitewater. The past year at UWW has been pretty good. I’ve had several opportunities to work on various projects, attend conferences, and pursue new ideas for the office. I’ve been a co-author of our blog for about 1.5 years now and in August we started working on Facebook and Twitter accounts (all of which I manage). When I took on my internship at UW-Madison, I had the opportunity to shift my assistantship into a more project based position (which I love!). I’m working on some neat projects involving: social media, creating web content, job searching, green careers and others. I’m going to be sad to see this position end in May when I graduate.

9. Started my Blog (and other social media adventures)! When I started my blog, I wanted to have a space where I could reflect on my summer internship and traveling. I also wanted to have an easy way for family and friends to follow along on my journey. I then added reflecting upon my UW-Madison internship. While that reflection has been a little slower, I still appreciate the time I give myself to do such reflection. I love what my blog has turned into. It’s about my adventure into the Student Affairs profession, along with the other things I love in life. I don’t think it would be fair to have just all student affairs stuff because that isn’t the only thing I love in life. I hope that my blog and my blogging abilities continue to grow as I search for and settle into my first professional position. I also love that I jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon. There are so many cool people out there and it makes the world just a little bit smaller and more accessible. I look forward to some day meeting people in person that I know through online connections.

8. Favorite Book: Eat, Pray, Love. I enjoyed following someone’s journey as they find happiness in life.

7. Starting my Master’s program internship at UW-Madison in the Letters & Science Career Services office. So far, my internship has kept me busy. I’ve enjoyed finally getting to know the flagship university of the UW-System. I have had the opportunity to work with some great students this past semester. I’m looking forward to the next couple months of working with more students as they figure out what to do with their lives.

6. Spending time with family. In one word, my family is awesome! I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They have been my number one supporters through this grad school journey and taking my internship out in Oregon.

5. Worked on improving my photography skills. Photography has been one of my hobbies that has grown this past year. I loved that I had opportunities to work on my photography skills. This is a hobby that I am looking forward to expanding once I’m done with school in May. Besides my photography tagged posts, my photography interwoven throughout the blog posts.

4. Hiking. Hiking is something I had only done a tiny bit prior to this past summer. My sister and I had done a hike in Devil’s Lake State Park in WI a few years ago, and that was about it for my hiking experience. While I was in Oregon, I had the opportunity to hike at a couple of state parks (Catherine Creek and Wallowa Lake). Once I was back in Wisconsin, I decided to explore the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest near Whitewater. My plan is to start hiking again as soon as Spring rolls around. Should be fun!

3. Traveling. While I have had the opportunity to travel before, it hasn’t be quite so extensive. I was truely bitten by the travel bug while I spent my summer in the Pacific Northwest. I now have an extensive list of places I want to visit (or re-vist) in the future including: several National Parks (Glacier in MT, Yosemite in CA, Crater Lake in OR, Mt. Rainier in WA, Acadia in ME, and several others), New England, and several spots in Wisconsin. My sister and I have already started tenative planning for a trip we want to take in May. We’ll be traveling through several of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites (Pepin, WI; Walnut Grove, MN; and DeSmet, SD) on our way to the Badlands/Black Hills area of South Dakota. We’re both super excited about the trip and can’t wait to take it.

2. Roadtripping with my friend Jennifer from Milwaukee, WI, to the Pacific Ocean at the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.  These 8 days were amazing! Prior to this trip, all the further west I had traveled was central Minnesota. We past that point half way through day 1. Some of the highlights of the trip included: Sioux Falls, SD; Badlands National Park; Mount Rushmore; Wyoming in general had breathtaking scenery; Yellowstone National Park; Grand Teton National Park;  Forks, WA; Olympic National Park; and the world’s largest Spruce tree in the Olympic National Forest. Here are the blog posts that recapped our trip.

1. Living in Oregon for June and July and interning with the Student Affairs division at Eastern Oregon University. This experience was beyond amazing. In reality, the experience was life changing and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I learned that I can survive and start a new life in a place where I don’t know anyone. I also learned quite a bit about student affairs and how different it can look at a smaller school. This was one my best summers so far. I had the opportunity to travel, to make new friends, to experience new things, and to enjoy a relaxed version of life. The summer spent in Oregon recharged me and prepared me for my final year of graduate school. While I don’t know quite yet if I’d want to live out west, I will definitely be visiting again (and hopefully soon!). Check out my weekly recaps of my time at Eastern Oregon University.

Now that I’ve figured out the awesome events of my life for 2010, I need to nail down my resolutions and goals for 2011. Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that 2011 is even better than 2010!!

UW-Madison Internship Update

As I was looking through my previous blog posts the other day, I had the realization that I haven’t been really blogging about my current internship experience at UW-Madison. A quick reminder of my internship: career counseling at the College of Letters & Science Career Services office at UW-Madison. We serve approximately 17,000 of the 40,000+ students that attend the University. My internship experience is for the academic year (September-May) and will contain at least 600 total hours of work (with 240 hours being in direct contact with students). I average about 20 hours a week in the office with at least 10 of those hours in appointments with students.

Due to some supervision changes at the beginning of the semester, my internship got off to a bit of a slow start. I definitely had a few moments of realization that a part of me had approached this internship as something to get through rather than an amazing learning experience.  After a somewhat difficult conversation with my new supervisor, I regrouped and put my priorities into a better place. Since October, I have tried to embrace every day that I have in Madison as an opportunity to learn something new (about myself, students, counseling, resources, etc.).

Thankfully, my appointments keep filling and the students are showing up. Some students have very specific questions such as critiquing a resume or looking over a personal statement for graduate school. However, most students say that they don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives and are graduating in (insert semester here). Some students are in a complete panic and others are a bit more calm. For me, it’s a joy to get to know the students and to help them figure out what they actually want they want to be as a “grown up.” Sometimes if a student isn’t giving me a lot to work with, I’ll ask them what they had hoped to gain by meeting with me. This generally helps guide the session. For some students, all they need is one visit to really get going with whatever they are working on (resume, job/internship search, grad school applications, etc.). For others, their career counseling experience will very much happen as a process and they’ll need to come back to see me to make some solid progress on their presenting issue. I have been loving the students who come back to see me. It has been great to see what progress they’ve made since our last meeting and to figure out with them what is the next step. Building a solid relationship with a student can be so rewarding. I hope that the work that I’m doing is helping them feel more connected to what is such a large University.

At this point in the semester, I am close to wrapping up the hours required for the first half of the year. I’ll be taking winter break off to relax and reboot for my final semester of grad school. One of my goals from here on out is to have more posts that are reflecting on my internship (along with photography, travels, grad school, and everything else fun). Next semester, I’ll also add some fun to the blog by writing about my job search since I am graduating in May!

View of the State Capital building from the top of Bascom Hill on UW-Madison’s Campus.