Monthly Archives: May 2012
About three years ago on a now-defunct personal blog, I wrote a post about people in several separate incidents who were taking legal action — lawsuits, naturally — against schools and other various organizations. These lawsuits were based on the fact that a person felt that some sort of action (or inaction) was wholly unfair to them or infringed on their rights in some way. I thought about posting excerpts from my original post, but since this blog is specific to Higher Education, I would rather this post’s tone be proactive instead of reactive. In sum, I described the situations in detail and concluded — among other things — that society is setting up its young people for a hard, cruel dose of reality that they are ill equipped to handle whenever it might appear.
I must admit that when I wrote that initial post, I had just graduated with my Master’s degree and had worked full-time in Higher Education for all of two months, so my actual experiences with this sort of behavior were limited to what I read in articles and the occasional story I gleaned through word-of-mouth. Now, having completed three years of what I hope to be a lengthy career, I find that I am not only wiser and more experienced, but less idealistic and impetuous, which lends itself well to seeing “the big picture.”
With that being said, when we have students come through our offices who display their entitlements like badges of honor, what can we as college student administrators do to communicate understanding as well as provide teachable moments for them? I would be lying to you if I said it is easy to have a young person sitting in front of us waxing poetic about the injustices that have been inflicted on them because their room is too hot (or cold) or they received a failing grade in a course, among many other things. However, it is our responsibility to assist all students — including these — with a welcome ear and, when necessary, a civic-minded educational approach to their issues. Therefore, in order to take on this responsibility, we educators need to first understand the larger picture before we start dissecting individual concerns.
With that in mind, where do we look for reasons as to what is causing/has caused this behavior? I commonly hear the term “society” being tossed around as the evil-doer for all things big and small, but I believe that is slightly disingenuous to the problem at hand. Simply saying society is the root cause for a student’s behavior is akin to a criminal saying ‘the devil made them do it.’ It passes the buck without taking any time to evaluate the situation or its causality. What we need to begin to understand is that there can be just as many reasons for why a student feels entitled as there are students at our higher ed institutions. What is really important is taking the time to learn about our students and discovering where they’ve come from and the experiences they’ve had before we begin to dole out the how’s, what’s, and why’s.
I understand this is not an easy proclamation to make, especially since our time is already stretched across numerous roles and responsibilities. Yet we are called to be student-focused in our work, which means we need to holistically focus on the student if we are to have an impact and educate our young people. As Napoleon Hill, one of the original self-help/personal success authors once wrote, “You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” Let’s take this advice and put it forward in our work with students. The more we get involved with our students and more we get involved in who they are, the better equipped we are to give them the tools they require to be ready for and succeed in the world outside of the university.
Do you have any stories or experiences where you took the time to learn about a student in order to better assist them? What was that experience like? How did the student respond? Please share your insight below!
We are a week into the month of March, which for student affairs professionals means several things: RA interview processes are over, that long-awaited week of relaxation(?) entitled Spring Break is fast approaching, and graduate and professional job searches are kicking into high gear. Whether you are a national placement attendee (TPE/NASPA or ACPA) or you prefer a more regional touch (OPE, SPE, or MAPC), one thing is for certain — everyone wants a job. The question is, how do you get one? How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? How do you prep for something so stress-inducing?
Below are several do’s and dont’s I’ve learned to keep in mind before, during, and after job searching.
***After reading these, if you have any follow-up questions or other things you would like to know about the job search process, e.g. optimal ways to prepare, questions to ask employers, etc, I encourage you to contact me here. I enjoy these sorts of things, so I’d be happy to assist you with your questions.***
- DO have at least 3 people review and edit your resume. During the job search process, your resume is a document that you could potentially rattle off verbatim without looking at it, you’ve looked at it so much. However, that familiarity with your resume leads to you glossing over potential errors or better ways to word certain things to make yourself more marketable. Find some people you can depend on and ask for some assistance. It will benefit you as you continue your job search.
- DON’T apply to every job out there. This is particularly important for those who are searching for their first professional job. While you don’t want to be left without a partner during the job search dance, you also want to find a school/area/supervisor that you will be comfortable with, as well as one that doesn’t go against your personality/needs. Think quality over quantity, as this will also help you at placement conferences to keep you from running around like a headless chicken to fit every single interview into your schedule.
- With that being said, DO be open to taking a job that you aren’t madly in love with, especially if it is your first professional job. Don’t confuse this to mean “be open to work at a job you hate,” because that is certainly something you want to avoid, for the benefit of both parties involved. Working somewhere you love is great for your day-to-day enjoyment of your job, but experience breeds success, so think of it this way: Would you rather have worked for three years at a school that you loved but gave you a narrow area in which to work, or would you rather spend the same time at an institution you were less thrilled about, but gave you ample opportunities to learn and grow? I’ll give you a hint — take the experience.
- DO behave professionally at all times during a placement conference, from when you check-in, to when you check-out. You aren’t just interviewing during the interview itself; you are on display at all times for potential employers, and behaving unprofessionally at any point can potentially affect the way employers (and peers) see you. You may have had experience being around placement candidates who make it very clear to others about how good they are and all the on-campus interviews they received so far — people notice this behavior, and it certainly doesn’t leave anyone with a positive impression, including employers. Remember that fishbowl analogy during RA training? Yeah, it’s like that.
- DON’T be afraid to think outside the box. Resumes can be no more than two pages. There is an order to which you need to list things on your resume. Use the institution’s website to research about the jobs you’re applying for. These are just a few of the things that are generally regarded as rules about higher education job searches, but are they helping you meet your #1 goal, which is getting a job? Think about this another way: If everyone at a placement conference is doing the exact same thing, how can you set yourself apart? You certainly want to adhere to some sort of structure for sure, but you also want your resume/interview to stand out to employers.
- DON’T stop thinking about your job search after you get a job. This is a no-no that many people across numerous career fields fall into. Just because you secured that job and accomplished your goal does not mean that you are by any means finished thinking about job searching, unless of course, you would enjoy being a Hall Director until you retire. It is very important to think about what you can do in the job you have now to help yourself gain the skills, knowledge, and strengths you need for when you want to look for another job later, especially if you want to move up. Chances are the individuals in those higher level positions got there because they didn’t stop thinking about what they needed to do to improve.
- DO believe in yourself. If you’ve taken your studies and work seriously, you have the ability to work in the field of student affairs and do it well. Don’t get overly-conscious about other people who are applying for the same jobs or at the same placement conference. In the end, the only thing that you can control is yourself. Focus on what you need to do to prepare and succeed, then put your best foot forward. Somebody somewhere thought that you could do the work — that’s how you got your assistantship/first professional job, after all — so stay confident and focused, and things will inevitably work out for you.
What are other tips and tricks that you’ve learned throughout your experiences in higher education? Do you have any methods that have worked/not worked for you in your own searches? Feel free to share below!