Monthly Archives: March 2012

I am a woman.

My ninth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 3/21/2012:

I am a woman.

I recently came across the following article: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/why-dont-women-act-more-like-men-at-work/254556/#.T2NWaCL3n9g.email.  These types of articles always create a dialog in my head:  “Why must I assume traditional male traits to be considered successful?  What is successful?  Why do certain traits have to be linked to a specific gender when they can be emulated by all?  If I decide to deviate from the norm, will that be respected or questioned? How can I empower myself and other women without losing credibility, but still being authentically me?  Which battles are worth fighting?” or something like that.  

The reactions below are not based off of my entry-level experiences, but rather my life experiences as a whole.  Once you become aware of your privileges, and your non-privileges, you are able to connect them to your everyday life experiences.  I have found this to be taxing, because it is so much easier to recognize when I get a “free pass” as well as when I am dismissed or ignored when others are not.  But I have also found it to be uplifting because I know I have the ability to challenge norms.  I also have the ability to empower others who share (or maybe don’t share) my non-privileges.   While this is not specifically related to my current position, I find value in this reflection, because it shapes who I am as a professional. 

For the records, I am a self-proclaimed feminist.  We can argue the meaning of that term until the end of time, but ultimately, I believe in equitable treatment for all.

 

With no further ado:

I am a woman.
I am accommodating, not timid.
I am direct, not a bitch.
I walk with confidence because I have made mistakes and grown from them.

 

 

I am a woman.
I am confident, not snobby.
I am accepting, not a push over.
I am kind to people because that is how we should treat other humans.

 

I am a woman.
I seek to understand before I question.
I question because I can think critically.
I recognize my privileged identities, but I also work to understand how those have helped and how I can use them to help others.

 

I am a woman.
I make decisions because I have the knowledge from past research and experience.
I do not automatically receive respect when I walk into a new room – I have to earn it.
I may win people over with my chocolate chip cookies, but I also win people over because of my genuine personality, my honesty, and my work ethic.  And because I respect those with whom I interact.

 

I am a woman.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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@SAFirstYears Post: Job Happiness Continued

My eigth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 3/14/2012:

I hope all the job searchers survive the placement exchanges: OPE, TPE, (almost) ACPA!

My last post was geared towards helping graduate students get a job that would encourage professional and personal growth, as well as enhance their happiness.

As I have a mini obsession with the concept of happiness.  I have been reflecting on my own search process and how I determined where I would be most happy.

After some quick digging I found my infamous job search excel sheet.  No one has EVER seen this excel sheet, so feel honored to be privy to such important information.  Please.  Not really, but just a little.

This document has everything from contact information to interview dates and times, from salary to initial reactions during my interview.  But what intrigues me most is my rating scale.  I have an affinity to use my left-brain (probably why I ended up at Mines), and so I devised five categories and rated them from zero to one.  Decimals were absolutely acceptable.

These were my 5 categories:

  • Do I get to supervise a graduate student?  (This was apparently very important to me then.)
  • Will I be personally happy? (Are friends or family in the area?)
  • Do I like the location? (Are there fun things to do?  Is it sunny?)
  • How is my supervisor? (Would s/he be focused on helping me be a better professional?  Would s/he provide new opportunities?  Would s/he be flexible?)
  • Is the department a good fit? (Would I work well with colleagues?  Do I like how things are run?

These numerical values actually helped me understand institutions I was really leaning towards.

Out of 5 possible points, Mines scored a 4.4.  There were only a few above, but quite a few below.

  • Do I get to supervise a graduate student?  (.8)  I get to supervise 5 undergraduate Hall Directors and help them supervise their 21 RAs. Close enough.
  • Will I be personally happy? (.8) I didn’t have any family, and only a small handful of friends in the region, but it was only a hop, skip, and a jump from Arizona (home) and I liked the people I would work with, so good enough.
  • Do I like the location? (1) I remember being so in love with Golden, Colorado the first time I visited.  The hiking and running trails were enticing.  And the small town feel, coupled with the close vicinity to metropolitan Denver was perfect.
  • How is my supervisor? (1) Awesome.  Hands down.  Awesome.
  • Is the department a good fit? (.8) Smaller, not exactly what I was used to, but it seemed like it would be good.  I think I was mostly concerned about not having set professional development funds.  Now I know that was silly.  We only must ask and we receive.

These were my first impressions written in my excel:

great professionals, small department, intelligent student population; great feel

Ultimately, I think I picked well.

So I ask again: What makes you happy?

Maybe it’s a few of the same things I chose to evaluate my experience.  Maybe you have others.  Maybe you think a numerical evaluation of your next career move is dumb.  That’s okay with me.  As long as you find a way to make a decision that will result in your happiness.

I know too many people who are not happy with their jobs.  Don’t be one of them!!

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@SAFirstYears Post: One Year Ago Today…

My seventh @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 3/6/2012:
One year ago today, I arrived in Philadelphia with three good friends, all crammed into a car full of our suits, shoes, interview materials, and snacks galore.

As this blog is geared towards first year professionals (and graduate students who will becoming first year professionals oh so shortly), I feel it is only appropriate to reflect on my TPE (The Placement Exchange) journey one year ago, and offer a few tidbits of advice.  I, by no means, consider myself a job searching expert, and I generally am not one to offer advice unsolicited.  However, I got a job, so I figure I can say a few things.

To all the graduate students searching, I could say:
“Do your research on each institution.”
OR
“Wear clothes that fit.  Don’t wear clothes that are too tight or too big.”
OR
“Wear classy shoes.  Don’t wear bad (uncomfortable, unsightly) shoes.”
OR
“Be careful what you say in an elevator… or in the waiting area… or at the restaurant a block from the convention center.”

But, I am going to focus on a few other concepts.  Yes, the thoughts above are good.  But hopefully your mentors have already been coaching you with those basics before TPE.  If not, well then there you go.

Here’s my advice.

Know what you want.

Think about your goals.  Will this position be able to fulfill those goals?  If you are not quite sure (as I alluded in my last post), do some thinking.  Employers are going to ask.  Even if you don’t know, there are ways to phrase it to make you answer prepared and thoughtful.

You have to fit with them, but they have to fit with you.

Employers are not the only ones doing interviews.  You are also interviewing them.  Ask questions about things that matter to you.  If you don’t ask, then you won’t know until it’s too late.

Don’t settle.

The temptation to jump at the first (or second, third, forth, and fifth) on-campus interview offer will be there.  It’s awesome to know someone is interested in you.  But are you truly interested?: Are you interested in the institution, in the department, in the professional staff, in the student body, and in the location?  If you know after the first interview that you aren’t interested, don’t accept the on-campus offer.  It’s not worth it.  (On-campus interviews are time consuming, and may require personal expenditures from you.)

Or maybe you thought it was a good fit after your TPE or phone interview, but then you realize it definitely is NOT after your on-campus.  Even if it is your ONLY job offer (right now) and they need an answer before other institutions get back to you about your status, don’t accept it.  This could mean being in limbo for a few weeks (yes, stressful), but it’s NOT WORTH IT.

Ultimately, make sure you’ll be happy.

Only you know what can make you truly happy.  If you are loving an institution, but also have an uneasy feeling about it: maybe it’s just not meant to be.  Ask more questions, do more research.  We are all meant to end up at the right place.  (This includes other people searching.  I promise they are looking for a different combination of things than you.)  Trust your intuition.  It wins, every time.

Here is the Mines table!

Happy searching!  And good luck!

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Third Time is a Charm

I never believed the saying, “third time is a charm.”  I always felt you should give it your all and get it right the first time.

And then I ran a half marathon.  Yes, this is the same Disney Princess Half Marathon mentioned in previous posts.  I ran it for the third time last Sunday.

And it was an amazing run.

This may be because I actually trained this year.  Or maybe my last two runs just made me more mentally prepared.

  • Mini #1 (2010): Anxiety.  Can I actually run 13.1 miles?
  • Mini #2 (2011): Last year was a fluke.  How the heck did I run 13.1 miles? Will I be able to do it again?
  • Mini #3 (2012): I have this on lockdown.

I think running that far in one shot is definitely mental.  But I think I was more mentally prepared this yearbecause I knew I could do it, and my training for the last 3 months gave me some additional confidence.  Also, the weather was perfectly cloudy and made wonderful running weather.

 

So maybe it does take three times to get something right. Or at least three times to know how to prepare accurately for something big and daunting 🙂

Dream big!

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@SAFirstYears Post: Connectors

My sixth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/29/2012:

Last Wednesday I went to the weekly SWE (Society of Women Engineers) lunch meeting.  I regularly attend to support these women who are paving the way for more women to be engineers.   This meeting happened to feature a guest speaker, Shari Caudron, who spoke about reaching your “highest goal.”  Apparently, research has shown people who aim for their highest goal are most happy.  Someone’s highest goal is what s/he ultimately aims to do.  This could be building the tallest building, curing AIDS, or simply loving.  These things do not happen in one day.  But as long as you are working continuously towards your highest goal, you are more likely to be happy.  She didn’t give a specific reason why, but it made sense that if you have determined your purpose in life and each day you learn more about how to achieve, and work towards achieving, that purpose, you will be more personally fulfilled.

This got me thinking about my daily work.  What is my “highest goal”?  Am I working towards that every day?   After much thought, I determined that I currently do not have a “highest goal,” such as what I want to be or where I want to end up.  And, after more thought, I am alright with this.  I have so many friends that are determined to be SHO/CHOs (Senior/Chief Housing Officer) or VPSAs (Vice President of Student Affairs) or Deans, which is great.  I have said those exact positions are my end goals at many points in my Student Affairs career.  These are fantastic goals to strife towards, and perhaps one day I will arrive there.  However, I would like to pose the following questions:

Are your goals derived from the logical path?  Or do you really want to do it?  I liked being a Resident Assistant, and didn’t particularly see an immediate future with my chosen major, so I decided (and was shoulder-tapped) to go to graduate school for Student Affairs.  After going to graduate school, one generally gets a job in the chosen field.  So I did.  It was a logical move.  It was what I have been told and coached to do since I got to graduate school.  This is not to say I am not driven.  Those of you who know me personally, know I am.  And I LOVE my job.  I really enjoy it a lot.  I would not change what I am doing for the world right now.  I am just saying, that I do not want to map out my entire life when I have so much more to explore.

However, what I realized during this talk was I like teaching and mentoring others.  Shari asked us to describe our most significant, impactful, or enjoyable activity of the past week. My two significant activities of the past week were hanging out with my little sister (BBBS) and teaching my step class at the Mines Student Recreation Center.  As long as I can teach or mentor, I am most happy.  Futhermore, it’s not just teaching and mentoring, it’s connecting.  I like being a connector.

Let me elaborate.   I did not realize the importance of the ‘connector’ piece until Friday, as I was on the plane to Orlando, Florida for the coveted Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I was reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.  He posits ideas are transferred and become big because of three types of people

  • Connectors: bring people together.  To the outside observer, they span different worlds and their social circles are wide and varying, but connecting to others is the central world of a connector and they don’t view it as different worlds.
  • Mavens: are knowledge holders, who have charisma to spread what they know.  They spread it because they truly care about others and want to share what they have discovered. (Which makes me think of “input”.  StrengthsQuest, anyone?)
  • Salesmen (which I, of course, changed to Salesperson): are persuaders.  They can convince you to buy or adopt anything, including ideas.

I find myself to fit best into the Connector category.  I have a multitude of connections, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, and nothing gives me more pleasure than to connect with these people through a common idea or activity, especially when I have the opportunity to help them through teaching or mentoring.  This is my true calling.  I may not have a solidified final job goal.  But that’s alright.  At this point, I am going to focus on connecting.

 

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@SAFirstYears Post: Connect with More People More Often

My fifth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/22/2012:

 

My Happiness Project*

I started reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin a few months back, and finished it over winter break.  The concept of happiness is something I think of often.  I have always been a ‘happy’ person.  However, I began to question the roots of my happiness when others inquired about the reasons.  It was always difficult for me to articulate why, beyond, “I just am.”  After reading “The Happiness Project” and having some of the same “my-life-is-full-but-am-I-the-happiest-I-can-be?” sentiments as Gretchen, I determined I would start my own Happiness project, along with another SA First Year blogger, Katie Ericson.  It’s good to have a friend to bounce ideas off of and keep you accountable. Each month we have determined to have a new focus that will keep us striving toward the ultimate goal of being happier.

January was my month for energy.  My mini goals were to eat healthier, push myself to work out, and pick up clutter a little at a time.  These were all things that make me feel better once I have completed them.  I have more energy when I eat natural and healthy food.  I have more energy when I work out regularly.  And I have more energy (and feel less stressed) when my home has less ‘stuff’ just lying around.  Overall, I did decent.  Some days were strong in a few areas, and others were strong in all areas.  However, I did not keep a chart about my successes or faults each day to show my progress.  But I didn’t want to because it seemed like it would become a chore, and I thought that would be counterproductive to this happiness project.  Following January, I determined each month would have a new focus.

 

February Reflection

February’s focus has been connecting with more people, more often.  I always find great enjoyment in talking with others and sharing stories from our personal and work lives.  However, I am not good with initiating these conversations with friends or family whom I do not see on a day-to-day basis.  I have made so many great connections with people through my past experiences, but I have also moved frequently and at times, communicating with those I care about often because it seems burdensome.  Not because I don’t like talking with each of them, but there are just SO many of them.  It seems Student Affairs folks have some of the longest “connections” lists: our family, and our close friends from High School, College, Graduate School, internships, first jobs, and maybe even summer camp.  I just get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people who have made me, and my life, better.

This post is not necessarily about my happiness project, but more so about the need to reach out to others for whom we care.  While it’s not my first instinct to call people I haven’t seen in a while, I am trying hard to reach out more.  I have yet to make an incredible amount of phone calls, but I have reached out to friends in the area to get together more frequently, asked colleagues to lunch I never see, and sent cards to my best friends from my childhood.  I even wrote a letter to a friend completing her mission in South America, and attended events hosted by others even when I felt exhausted.  After each of these interactions, I gained more energy and more desire to continue to stay connected. 

I also think part of the reason why I struggle to maintain communication with people I care for is, simply, time.  Often our student affairs jobs have us working long hours.  Part of that time is used to reach out our students to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful, healthy, and involved in their educational experience.   This definitely keeps us busy (and happy)!  I have also seen amazing outreach within our field at the professional level.

As February is coming to a close, I think this is a good reminder for me to continue reaching out to my friends in the Student Affairs field, and making the effort to connect with those I care about from other various stages in my life.  I hope this encourages you to reach out and connect with others as well!

 

 

*For more information about ‘The Happiness Project,” visit: http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/

You can read about the book, learn tips about happiness from the author, and even sign-up to start your own Happiness Project. 

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@SAFirstYears Post: Steel Structures

My forth @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/15/2012:

Last Friday I attended Steel Structures class with a group of my student staff members.  We learned about flexual and local buckling with regards to elasticity or inelasticity of the column.  There was also an abundance of formulas and charts.  I’m sure you can imagine my facial expressions through the 50-minute class  – interest, concentration, and awe.  I also took notes, so I wouldn’t stick out excessively, (although I think my bright colored skirt and shoes had no problem making that happen).  The undergraduate Hall Directors I supervise got a kick out of watching my engagement in the course.  (They thought I was writing down equations, but I was actually taking notes for this post.)

I bet you are wondering why I decided to spend an hour of my Friday morning attending Steel Structures.  It boils down to this: even though I am deep in the trenches each day, I still feel removed from the Mines student experience.  This is understandable.  Mines is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) institution.  The only science class I took in undergrad was Geology.  Every day I ask my students how their classes are going, but beyond calculus and physics, I only remotely understand the concepts of what they are learning.  In addition to working at a specialized institution, being a professional means I am not currently in the classroom. (Ph.D or Ed.D = TBD.)  Students work off homework deadlines and upcoming test dates; I work off an hourly calendar and departmental goals.

And while I feel removed, I can also relate to these students. The majority of the dudes in my family – cousins, uncles, father, brother, and grandpas – are engineers.  Ever since I can remember, math, physics, and science have been common dinner conversations.  I am also quite the nerd.  I obtained a math minor in college ‘for kicks’ and prefer watching Star Wars movies (only the originals) over any movie, any time.  This has been beneficial to my ability to connect with my students and help them in the best way I know.

Ultimately, my goal in attending the class was to understand my students’ experience.  A 50-minute class period definitely does not encompass the daily grind for them, but I have a greater appreciation for the expectations regarding academic performance.  Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics to remember the true experience of the students we are serving.

Also, in flexual buckling the buckle will occur in whichever axis (x or y) has a greater (Ke)/r.  Obviously, right?

 

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