Monday, January 30, 2006

Now Hiring?-Post 4

Post 4 from Now Hiring?

How I'm Feelin': Meh...
Why I Bought that $200 sound system for my laptop: Common "Faithful"

I am proud of myself today. It's not that I'm not proud of myself every day. But, I got some applications done. On Saturday, I applied to 6 places, and I applied to 3 more on Sunday. I sent some information to schools today, and scheduled another interview for ACPA. Blogger's Note: I'm not gloatin' or anything...I'm supposed to talk about this stuff, so here I am. You hear me knockin'?...then let me in!

When I went to work and told my colleagues about my fun-filled weekend, the common response was Damn, are you crazy? Well, lemme respond to that statement in three ways...
1. Hell yeah I'm crazy...I'm an engineer that moved into student affairs of all things. I can explain how students of color develop in college and how the spin of a baseball helps it travel the same time. I will either be revered or committed.
2. My Dad taught me some things in life, such as how to change the oil in the car, how to put up wallpaper, and that, in his words, "Women will make you do crazy things". He also taught me the concept of eating, sleeping, and breathing. The world revolves around this concept, and involving yourself in this concept takes money. In order to get money, you gotta get a job.
3. I had nothing else to do this weekend. It can get pretty boring where I live.

One of my professors (she's one you've heard of, trust me) warned that you don't want to spread your name around too much. However, I want work. And since student affairs doesn't work like White House jobs ("since you donated some money to my about leading the Securities and Exchange Commission?"), I have to compete. I don't want to compete to the level that I'm trying to figure out ways to cut somebody's break lines so they don't make the interview, but competition will be natural. Also, I know some cut-throat folks around here, and I don't want to be in that bunch. So, the only way I know how to get that job (remember the 401k and dental plan from last post?) is to use connections and get my name out there. I hope it's not out there too much where I have to start checking my break lines.

In all seriousness, best of luck on everybody's search. People say there's a job for everybody, and I hope everybody finds the gig they're looking for.

I'm off to work on a presentation. I'll be back later this week, so keep searchin'.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Candidate #0000 - Post 4

96 days until graduation.

TV show I’m watching while writing this: Screen Actors Guild Awards
Mood: tired

Job searching definitely takes over your life.

Last night, I went out with a couple of friends. I picked up one of them at her apartment and as we were driving to the restaurant, the one thing we talked about was job searching. Did you send out any resumes yet? Have you scheduled any interviews for ACPA yet? What schools are you looking at? We got to the restaurant, sat down and immediately got into the whole job searching conversation with our other friends. Did you see that job posting on the Chronicle? When do you think our professor will hand back the cover letters with his comments and corrections? Do you know what Student Life at this institution is like?

Some of my colleagues have already contacted several schools. One even had a phone interview already. Talking to them makes me incredibly anxious. Am I running behind? Should I have done all that already?

Others haven’t even posted their resume on one of the conference placement Web sites yet. A little chat with them usually gives me back my confidence. I’m doing alright. I still have some time.

But whether I’m feeling confident or anxious, job searching has been on my mind since this semester started. From the moment I wake up, I think about resumes, cover letters, job postings, etc. Right now, I’m obsessing over references. Obviously, you have to ask your direct supervisor. But then, who else do you ask? Is it good to have a faculty member? Or your advisor? Should you go with past supervisors? A supervisor from an internship? This person knows me the best, but then this other one may give me a better reference. Some people are really busy with their job, so will they actually have time to return phone calls and write reference letters? What if my reference forgets to get back to an employer? Of course, I’m also planning on sending my resume and cover letter to at least 20 institutions. Can you really ask someone to be a reference for 20 different jobs?

I really need to decide who my references will be though, because several institutions that I want to apply to ask for their contact information right away. Picking my references is really the one thing I’m waiting for. I’m also hoping to get my professor’s feedback on my cover letter this week, so that I can fix the letter before I send it out. So hopefully, by the end of the week, I’ll mail my application materials to the first 5-10 institutions.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Now Hiring?-Post 3

Post 3 from Now Hiring?

How I'm Feeling: Thank God It's Friday!
If I'm dancing at my desk, it because of: Cruna "Higher"

How about a post from your favorite student affairs blogger! Yeah, right man. The past few days have been interesting to say. I'm doing this thing called Placement, and so far it's been pretty cool. So, one day this week, I'm sitting at my desk, doing "work", when I decide to check my e-mail. Naturally this would be a instinctive move, but this day I was more focused on "work". Well, some school (to be named...nameless) e-mailed me and wanted to interview. They were public, small, and near a major metropolitan area. And, they were 10 minutes away from the nearest Dunkin' Donuts (more on this later). All of this made me think, Damn, I didn't think this was like this! So, I got me an interview, and I hope to have some more.

This got me thinking...where the hell do I want to work? At the beginning of the year, I wasn't picky at all. If you had a 401k and a dental plan, you're the place for me. If it was the University of Absloutely Nowhere But Migrating Buffalo and Fire Ants Going Here hiring, I'll move out there just for the benefits. But, all those lectures about the "fit" I kept hearing now started to make a little sense. So, I decided to narrow down my choices to two factors:

1. The school has to be a short drive away from a Popeye's Fried Chicken. Over 15 minutes driving time, you're out.
2. You've gotta have a Dunkin' Donuts close by. That's an absolute.

(Lemme digress here...if you haven't had Dunkin' Donuts, then you haven't lived at all. I'm a big fan of 4 glazed donuts and a regular coffee. It's almost addicting, I swear!)

You have to have the things nearby that mean a lot to you. In my case, unhealthy fast food ranks up there. Behind those are running water, electricity, cultural events, sporting venues, mass transportation, blah, blah, blah. I could be offered a job at Backwater State College in the middle of a swamp, where there are more alligators then students and the dorms are made of dead palm trees and mosquito nests...but if there's a Dunkin' Donuts nearby, I'd give them a second look.

But in seriousness, I want to stay close to where I'm doing my grad work. I've got a great girlfriend here that's finishing up her school work, and I have extended family in the area. The cost of living here is pretty low, and the people are nice (maybe a little to nice at times). So there are some heavy decisions to be made. But for now, I'm just looking for the closest Dunkin' Donuts...

Candidate #0000 - Post 3

98 days until graduation.

Music I’m currently listening to: Crazy, K-Ci & JoJo
Mood: confused

I got one of those e-mails today. An Assistant Director of a Residential Life department e-mailing me because they saw my resume on the ACPA Placement Web site and would like to encourage me to apply for a Hall Director position at their institution.

I know I should be excited. I mean, I am excited; I am flattered; but I’m also nervous and anxious, overwhelmed and most of all confused. So here is this ResLife department that has taken the time to look at my resume and after seeing what I’ve done, they are interested in me. ME!!! But what exactly does that mean? How many people did they e-mail? If I decide to interview with them, how good are my chances really? And do I even want to work at that school? I mean I really need a job, so how picky can I be? And if I decide to interview with them, sign up for an interview slot at ACPA…and then slowly my interview schedule fills up and when a school I’m really really interested in posts a position, I don’t have any open interview slots anymore. Can I just cancel with a school and tell them I’m not interested in interviewing with them anymore? Does that look bad? We all know Student Affairs is a small field and everyone knows everyone.

And here is my other question: How do you know what working at a school is really like? Of course, they will make their institution and department sound great on the Web site. And it may be great, but just not the right fit for me. But how do I find that right fit? Do you just know when you find it?

I am applying to schools all over the country. Unlike some of my colleagues, who know exactly what region they are interested in and even what type of institution they want, I’m up for anything. East cost, West coast, or any of the states in the middle. Okay, I have to admit, California – beach – sun – all that sounds really good to me right now as I’m sitting in my apartment wrapped in a blanket because it’s freezing cold. But then again, if I move out to the West coast, I’ll be really far away from my friends. But should I stay somewhere just because that’s where my friends are? What if they move? But then again, if I pick California, will I really be able to get a job there? Some people have told me that I have a very competitive resume and that I won’t have a problem finding a job wherever I want. Others have warned me that everyone wants to go to California, so getting a job there is really hard. And do I really want to move out to California now or should I live somewhere else for the next two or three years and the move out there?

And how important should the location really be? I mean, isn’t it more important that it’s a school that I love working at? I went to a college for undergraduate that was in a tiny town with not a lot to do and I loved it. After all, I never left campus, so what did I care if I wasn’t living in the most exciting place of America? And if I thought that small town was out in nowhere, I got a wake-up call when coming to my graduate institution. I’ve seen more deer in this past year just in my residential area than in my whole life put together. But even though I jokingly complain about living “out in the woods,” I’ve never really cared. As long as I love the institution I’m at, I’m okay.

Which brings me back to my earlier question: How do you find the school that’s the right fit for you? I read through job description after job description, and most of them sound really exciting and fun. I check out Web sites, read through department mission statements and I think, “Yeah, this could be it.” But is it? How do you know???

Monday, January 23, 2006

Now Hiring?-Post #2

Post 2 from Now Hiring?

How today went: Well, payday is ONLY next week...Ramen again tonight!
The reason my neighbor's don't like me: La Sonora Carruseles "Arranca En Fa"

Let's's been a couple of days since I posted, and it seems like time has flown by. Why you may ask? I'll tell you why...I work with students. See, I teach a freshman orientation course, and I get to see first hand how today's students act. It's like watching Perry and Chickering develop in front of my eyes. It has to be the coolest thing to see (but not as cool as watching a multistage rocket separate in the outer atmosphere and move to a elliptical orbit...that's sweet). I saw the same thing when I was working in the residence halls, but I wasn' in those things. It probably had something to do with studying stuff like advanced calculus or quantum physics (all of which I apply on a daily basis, believe it or not) and I didn't get to the pages about King & Kitchener and Kohlberg. My bad.

So, today I gave my students a awareness quiz on multicultural issues. It's a nifty tool to open student's eyes on a variety of issues. My section today has 26 students. When I gave them the quiz, they slumped into their chairs with a "Oh crap!" face on. Classic look...I see it all the time. Some crossed their arms, some crossed their legs, and stared at the paper as if it stole their walled and keyed their car. From what I remember, this is the "pre-encounter" stage. Once they took the quiz, we went over the answers. To my delight, several students didn't get an answer right. I know what you're thinking, nice work man, making them take a test they'd fail, very encouraging. Not a very student affairs kind of thing to do, but I digress. Well, the point was that they would learn from their mistakes...kind of a tough love thing. After our discussion, several students explained their choices. Those arms went uncrossed, and the paper no longer keyed their filed the insurance claims, detailed it, put 20's on it, and used 2 coats of wax (but the wallet was still missing). They were learning something that will affect them in their lives. Ah, the joys of moving towards "internalization" within 30 minutes. It's a wonderful thing to experience, like driving a nice sports car or listening to John Coltrane's "Softly As In A Early Morning Sunrise".

As the job search continues, the multiple drafts of resumes and cover letters pile up. However, I've learned that I might need to keep the good ones and not use the bad ones. I found a pretty nice job I might "fit" into and decided to apply. I go through the questions ("Have you been convicted of a felony", "Have you graduated high school", "Have you learned to tie your shoes") and finally get to the uploading page for my resume. I upload it with no problem...then I get an itchin' to check to make sure it's the right one. Well, it wasn' was Draft 2B or something. I upload a new one, check it, and it's still not the right one. Then, the voice in my head that sounds like Morgan Freeman from The Shawshank Redemption suggested that I label the resume with the job so I don't get confused. Alas, Morgan Freeman is there for me. So, I get the right one, and finish the application. So, I've made sure to delete all the old resumes and label the ones with the jobs I'm applying for.

Well, enough for now. I trust you've enjoyed the entry...please comment, because it gives me a reason to keep writing (or keep me procrastinating from reading all my homework...ugh).

Candidate #0000 - Post 2

102 days until graduation.

Music I’m currently listening to: Accidentally in Love, Counting Crows
Mood: drained

Today has been one of those days. Actually, this whole weekend has been crazy busy and I feel like I need a vacation. But let me start at the beginning:
I like to keep Fridays my “day off,” so that I can get schoolwork done, maybe schedule an occasional meeting or catch up on sleep. But somehow, this never happens and Fridays are just as busy as any other day of the week. This Friday, for example, I was in meetings from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., then spent about an hour in the office desperately attempting to get some work done, and finally went to dinner and bowling with the executive board of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) – I’m one of their advisors. I got home late and still had work to do, so once again, it was up most of the night. Not a big deal, you may think, since the next day was a Saturday. Wrong! Saturday, we had another meeting schedule for the RHA Executive Board to get ready for the semester. That took up most of the day, and then I had some errands to run and more work to do. I passed out on the couch around 3 a.m.
So then there was today. I slept through most of the morning, and then dragged myself out of bed to start on some of the reading for class. I was just taking a shower, when my phone rang. I volunteer for this local Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline. I had signed up for the shift that would have started today at 6 p.m., but somehow that got screwed up and I was now on for the entire day and night. Again, that wouldn’t have been a big deal, if today hadn’t also been the Community Room Opening Party in my residential area. I’m the Hall Director for a Family Housing area and after a semester of working on it, I had finally managed to get an empty apartment and change it into a Community Room that my staff and I could use for programs and events. The Opening Party was supposed to be this huge event. I had bought all kinds of food, decorated the community room and invited a lot of important people. So here I was, still half asleep and getting ready for this party, when I get a phone call for the Hotline saying that I needed to meet this sexual assault survivor at the hospital. AHHHHHHHHHHH!
Fortunately, my staff is amazing. I called them in a panic and five minutes later, one of them met me at the community room, so I could show her where everything was and briefly go over what needed to be done for the party. Then, I jumped into my car and rushed down to the hospital.
Six hours later, I returned. Exhausted and drained. The good news is that the party went really well. I talked to two of my staff members and they both had only great things to report. I’m a little bummed that I missed it, especially after I have put so much work into this event. *Sigh*
And once again, it’s getting late and I haven’t gotten all my work done. I wanted to take care of some more job search preparation, but I’m afraid that will have to wait until next weekend.
I did buy this really cute binder – it’s pink, which is my favorite color – that I am planning on using for all my job search material. I’m going to get dividers and then keep track of all the different jobs I’m applying for. For example, I want to print out job descriptions, mission statements and other information about the schools I’m applying to, as well as keep track of when I make contact with them and how far I am in their process, etc. I really want to be organized with this.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the good news. I finished my first cover letter. One of the many meetings I had on Friday was one with my advisor. I had asked her to look over my cover letter and give me some feedback, so we set up that meeting. The good thing about having this appointment was that it forced me to actually sit down and write this cover letter. I picked an institution that I would be really interested in working at and which is also interviewing at ACPA; then I checked out their job description as well as the school Web site and information about Residential Life; printed out the Residential Life mission statement and core values; and finally just sat down Thursday night and wrote it. I think the first draft turned out all right. And now, after some input and help from my advisor, I’m actually proud about my first cover letter. I think it’s good and makes me sound really smart. I still want to have a couple more professionals look over it before I send it out, but I’m so much closer now to sending out the first stack of cover letters and resumes. Of course, I’ll have to change my cover letter for each institution I’m applying to, but at least I have my first one and can use parts of it for the other ones. I also feel like, it should be getting easier as I’m becoming more comfortable with cover letter writing.
Okay, this is already a really long post, but there’s one more thing I have to mention: Can I just tell you how much I love my advisor? I was really struggling with this job-searching thing, but the meeting with her on Friday helped so much. She has so much confidence in all of us. She kept telling me that I shouldn’t sell myself short and that I have a great resume and cover letter, and many school will want to hire me. I just want one to offer me a job.
It’s great to have someone, who believes in you and is there to basically hold your hand throughout this whole process. I don’t know what I would do without her help. And she’s not the only one. Several other professionals have offered to look over my resume and cover letter. The first few classes for one our graduate courses is focusing on job searching. Residential Life is organizing this Mock Placement for all of us graduate students on February 3rd, and everyone is just being so helpful and encouraging. I’m really lucky to be in this graduate program and have all this support.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Now Hiring?-Post 1

Post 1 from Now Hiring?

How today went: I'm still breathing...
What song is in my head (or my headphones): James Brown "Make it Funky"

So, I gotta do this "blog" highlighting my job search and my last semester in graduate school. Well, as David Alan Grier's character in In Living Color, "Like to hear it? Here it goes!"

About me...I'm a simple cat, so I'll keep my introduction nice and easy for you...
-I'm in graduate school studying higher education.
-I need work.

Maybe that was a little smart-assed, but bear with me. I'm an engineer by training, so I'm very dualistic in my thinking. How I got into student affairs, I'll never know. It was like I went to sleep with dreams of making TONS of money and designing multi-stage rockets, then I woke up as a teaching assistant in some Women's Studies course, making NO money.'s the kicker...I work in multicultural affairs at a PWI in the midwest. So, there was the challenge from learning development theories and dealing with the issue of diversity at a place where it's not the in-thing to discuss all the time. And, I was struggling to get over my engineering mindset and learn to do little things like...reflect. Ugh. But, since I'm almost done, there's no point quitting. Plus, I actually like what I do, no matter how paltry the paycheck is.

When I got to graduate school (which was a journey, truth be told), everybody told me their horror stories about job searching, and in particular, Placement at ACPA. I heard several versions about this process, and there were two common themes:

1) Placement and searching was like a meat market, where employers lined up and took their pick for the perfect "fit" (Imagine someone at a big school saying "Um...I'll take 4 hall directors, 2 academic advisors, one of those multicultural affairs thingies, greek advisor not that one, the one behind it")
2) Placement and job searching is a modified yet complicated version of the NFL Draft ("With the third pick in the Admissions round of the draft, Nowhere State U. selects...)

However, so far it hasn't been this way. I've found some gigs that I would be PERFECT in. However, the schools didn't feel this way, and I've got a stack of "You were qualified, but we've moved in another direction" letters piling up. And, it seems every day there is a multicultural affairs job opening up somewhere, and everybody I work with tells me "You're the perfect fit!" At times, I wish they said that to the employer. But, I'm also looking at residence life jobs, and I'm liking my prospects. But, if all else fails, I'm hoping NASA is hiring.

Well, that's all for now. Until later, or I get another rejection letter...

Candidate #0000 - Post 1

108 days until graduation.
Music I’m currently listening to: Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson
Mood: contemplating

It’s past midnight and I’m still sitting at my computer staring at the screen. My goal for this weekend was to write at least a first draft of my cover letter. But now it’s Sunday night and all I have is a blank document saved under the name “Cover Letter Spring 2005.” And instead of coming up with remarkable paragraphs that would make anyone want to hire me, I’m singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson at the top of my lung. Maybe I should become a singer instead of a Hall Director. LoL. I guess, in spite of the writer’s block I’m currently experiencing and my growing anxiety, I got a better chance of finishing this cover letter and landing some on-campus interviews at ACPA’s Placement, then becoming the next American Idol.
This Cover-Letter-Writing thing is definitely giving me a headache though. I just don’t like talking about myself. Either it feels like bragging or I’m selling myself short. Writing my resume was so much easier. You follow the format; you write down what you did; and then you have someone from Career Services or a supervisor or faculty member (or all of them) look over it, make it sound much smarter, and suddenly you have this great summary of your accomplishments of the past few years. Well, it wasn’t all that easy, but unlike my cover letter, it’s all done and ready to be sent out. Why didn’t I do my cover letter before winter break like I planned?

Somehow, it still seems so unreal that I’m really 23-years-old, in my second year in a Master’s program for Higher Education and Student Affairs, and about to go out into the real world. These past few months have been quite the emotional roller coaster. One day, I can’t wait to finish graduate school and finally start working full-time. I started counting down the days until graduation last semester already. I spend hours daydreaming about the job I’ll have next year, where I’ll be living, what my daily life will be like. But then the next day, I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about having to apply for a job. How do you deal with all this ambiguity? Not knowing where you’ll be next year, what you’ll be doing. What if I don’t get a job? What if I don’t get the job I want? And worst of all, what if my visa gets denied and I have to go back home and work at McDonald’s? (I’m an international student from Austria and currently here on a student visa. So even if I’m offered a job, I’m still going to have to worry about getting a visa to be able to work in the United States.) AHHHH…I can’t even think about it anymore. I’m going to drive myself crazy with worrying. I have to take a deep breath, maybe turn the music up a little louder and just start thinking “happy thoughts.” It’s all going to work out somehow, right?