Facing the #SAPro search while an #SAGrad

30a0391

When my co-worker told me my last semester was going to be tough, I think I brushed it off, figuring I could handle anything and everything that came my way. Now, I sit here, nervously laughing to myself as I fill out another application or accept an offer to interview at The Placement Exchange (TPE), wondering if I’m taking on too many interviews. I also find myself wondering which of these interviews will take me all the way to accepting my first full time Student Affairs position.. I stare at my next grad assignment wondering if I can really allow myself to get away with getting a B in the course. I want to excel in my course work but I really want to devote my time and energy to finding a job because graduation is in about two months. Nothing can truly prepare you for the weight of the Student Affairs Job Search until you’re truly deep in the trenches with assignments and papers to finish.

For months, I have prepared. I read blogs about Student Affairs job search, attended a few workshops my grad program hosted, listened to webinars,  searched for the best resume template, asked professionals I knew and didn’t know to edit to my resume, and searched the OshKosh Placement Exchange (OPE), TPE, and HigherEdJobs website routinely every day. After the OPE experience, accepting a few second round interviews, and my first on campus invite, I’ve realized a few things.

1. Sometimes, over-preparing is not healthy.

I know this is probably the craziest thing I could possibly say. And, this is the disclaimer, everyone is different. While good advice is ALWAYS good advice, it can make you feel stressed! Prior to OPE, I printed the job description, 20 copies of my resume, and wrote down possible responses to questions I thought would be asked. I thought I would benefit from being overly prepared but I only realized there was a few things I needed.

The first thing I needed was my University Fact Sheet with the university and department’s mission, a few reasons I wanted to work there, and my questions to ask the interviewers. This is important especially when you have multiple interviews. The next most important thing was letting my resume and my experience do the talking for me. The final thing  that I needed which truly is most important: Myself and my experiences.  I quickly realized as I was asked questions that I had all the experience and if I didn’t, I could flip it to show potential for learning and growth. Interviews are tricky but trying to prepare for what I think will be asked was not healthy. It only made me stressed, especially when I thought I would be asked a specific question and I wasn’t.

2. Be prepared to tell your story.

I think as Student Affairs grads and professionals, we get asked all the time “What is your story?” We are told to keep a 30 second elevator speech in our back pocket when we all know our story is not some 30 second elevator speech. Our story is our passion and why we are doing what we do. Be prepared for your story to go from 1-2 minutes to 5 minutes. At one point in an interview, I said these exact words “This gets longer and longer each time I respond to this question.”  However, this is the time to shine, to let your passion come through, let them see the animated you. All questions are important but the “Tell me about yourself” question definitely sets the tone for the interview.

3. Relax and enjoy the moment.

I can’t recall anyone telling me this but as I was reflecting, getting ready to fill out another application, the job search can be fun. This is really and truly the time to shine and boost about yourself. (For some this is hard!) It’s the only time in your career that you have the opportunity. Relax a little and don’t stress about reaching out to every single schools. When you’re going through placement exchanges like OPE and TPE, it is possible to sit back and let schools come to you. Granted, I put in my share of seeking schools but some of the ones that I interviewed with at OPE, they reached out to me. It was easy to fill up my schedule. It’s okay to get excited each time a university emails you saying they are interested in you. Celebrate the interviews, the rejections, and the triumphs of getting that second interview, and the on campus invite. Share the joy when a big named school like Pennsylvania State reaches out to you or extends an invite to schedule an interview time. Celebrate the small schools that reach out to you! One of these jobs could be your fit so celebrate each offer. Just…. relax and enjoy the moment!

4. Find a healthy balance between school, search, and work.

This is something I am still learning and trying to figure out. Into week seven of classes and balancing the job search and grad assistantship is tough work.Especially when the second interviews and on campus visits come. I’ve figured out it’s important that I tell my professors, even if I don’t see them at all, what I have going on. I bombed a quiz, and for being a Master’s level student, felt bad about it. However, I told my professor that I was leaving for OPE and had to get it taken quickly. She seemed understanding. Remember to take lots of deep breaths and look at what can be accomplished in that moment. This is that moment it is okay to say no! It is okay to admit that you can’t take on extra responsibilities or attend an event. It is okay to say no.

These are just a few takeaways I’ve had while going through this process. Everyone is different. OPE really was a great experience and regardless of the outcome, I interviewed with some good schools and had decent conversations with professionals. I’m definitely going to relax a bit more ahead of TPE and just remember that I have all the experience I need to be successful. It’s just about conveying it and letting the interviewers see who I am.

Until next time,

Elizabeth R. Webb

Advertisements

Book Review: The Princess Diarist

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

Reading autobiography type books is9780399173592_custom-4ad32be0078bbd96523707c7a34fe7041a170269-s400-c85 usually not my repertoire of reading. It has to be a certain person or a specific topic to really pull me in to make the purchase and then commit to reading the book. I’ve only read a few other autobiography books: RENT’s Anthony Rapp memoir Without You and some of Hope Solo’s book entitle Solo. With the recent passing of Star Wars icon, Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. I found myself mesmerized by the sudden life of a woman who became a motivation for women and later a champion for mental health. I was most interested in reading about her time on the Star Wars set and, of course, her affair with Harrison Ford aka Han Solo. If you’ve seen Wishful Drinking or any kind of interview with Carrie, there is one thing that I’ve noticed about her. She was a chatty yet sarcastic writer. Her thoughts jumped all over the place. The one thing that I really love about Carrie’s writing is you really get a sense of how complicated she truly was.

Carrie was honest in her writing about her 19-year-old self and what she went through adapting to the fame from being the only woman on a male-dominated set to adapting to the crazy Comic Con life of signing autographs for fans. The one thing that this book went into detail about, rather vaguely, was the affair with co-star Harrison Ford. The story of their affair is just tragic. Carrie writes that Harrison was a quiet man. He seemed to not say much while Carrie’s thoughts were wild with love and devotion for him. It was evident in her rambling thoughts that she wanted to know if he loved her the way she obviously loved him. I did not come into this book expecting a grandiose fairytale love story. However, what I was met with was just a sad, tragic affair.

Her diary entries are presented in the book, however, they do not really offer any major details to the affair. It was a slow climb to the meat of the story and just dropped off. I think Carrie wrote it this way because 1) this affair happened 40 years ago, and 2) I do not think Carried published this narrative in an effort to hurt Harrison. Some  of the diary entries hint a little that she was filming Star Wars while some of them were just poems and ramblings of a 19-year-old in love having an affair with a married man. I found myself flipping rather quickly through the entries. It was evident in this book that Carried did not know how to handle the success of Star Wars.

Once she is finished talking about the affair, Carrie writes about the fans she meets at conventions, outings, and how she felt about them as well as her character Princess Leia. This section of the book just fell flat for me. While, a huge part of being a celebrity is pleasing the fan base, Carrie details that some of the interactions really took a toll on her.

The Princess Diarest is a decent but quick read. It is not the best written book. Yet, it is a sad read, especially knowing this is the last book Carrie Fisher wrote. This book immortalizes a legend and her thoughts.

Rest in Peace, Carrie Fisher.

-Elizabeth R. Webb

New Year, New healthy Me?

382669_10150466883793209_1468754261_n.jpg

December of 2011, a campus visit to the University of North Texas

About six years ago, I made the decision to lose weight. I dropped a total of 70 pounds. I was at my thinnest I had been in a long time. I was that annoying person that would post on Social Media that I was going to the gym to work out. I loved to go to Zumba and swim at the local 24 Hour Fitness. I counted my calories. It feels like so long ago that I was that person. 2011-2012. This was just before I graduated from Eastfield College and made the move to the University of North Texas. I don’t know what happened to me but over the three years that I was there, the weight came back and more. I was in a relationship that was causing me more stress than happiness. I was also balancing classes and two jobs. My life took on a ‘eat-on-the-go’ mentality. Then I graduated and came to Texas A&M University-Commerce, the weight continued to come back because I now lived in a small town and struggled to remain busy. I was so accustomed to going from classes to one job to an 8 hour shift at the hospital that everything came to a screeching halt.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-11-44-36-pmLooking back over the past few years, I’ve realized that depression has been my constant companion. Then, add in a dose of anxiety. I had gone to the counseling centers to talk to people but in that moment, it only felt like a 1-minute fix. I was fine when I left but being at home, I was back to wanting to just sleep, eat, and ignore the world. At one point, I was given antidepressants because my anxiety was giving me chest pain that would hurt so bad I thought something was wrong. My EKG was fine. The antidepressants helped balance me out for the period of time I had them. Even now, 2017, no medicine, I still struggle with depression. I’ve tried to get them back but a few counseling sessions later and I’m back feeling depressed. However, I realize that I am allowing my depression to enable my weight gain.

I never make resolutions because I never seem to stick to them. I actually do not know one person that does. However, I think my mind has decided I will do something different. With my Masters graduation day creeping closer, (130 days,YIKES!) I know that I will be starting a full time job and making a move. When I think about that, I ask myself if I really want to be on the continuous weight gain track. It’s time for me to stop, even if I go back to the baby steps that I originally took on my first journey: cutting out soda and sugar. The next step was being cautious about what I actually put in my mouth. Living alone, I don’t exactly enjoy cooking for myself. I need to get out of that mindset.

Everyone is using the phrase, New Year, New Me. I’m choosing 2017 to be my new me. It’s already off to a great start. January 1st was my last soda. I came back to Commerce to go grocery shopping and filled my cart with fruit, salad, and turkey meat. Today, I had a banana, made a salad, had a spaghetti dinner with no meat, and ended my night with an apple and caramel. My drink of choice all day has been water with propel. You’re probably wondering at this point why I am including my meal of the day. The answer is simple, because normally, I would be the person going to Sonic or McDonalds for dinner. This is a momentum, I really hope that I can continue once work really starts and I am back on the study grind, preparing for comps.

It’s time to get back to the thin person that lives inside of me. I’m making 2017 my year to make it happen!

-Elizabeth R. Webb

Past Reflection, Future Hopes

2017-1

The end of 2016 is almost upon us. The dumpster fire that has been this year is about to be extinguished and a new year is about to be ushered in. While, I personally had a good 2016, I am definitely ready to face 2017 head on and with a positive outlook. Reflecting on the past 12 months, I had some very good moments.

January
Started my second semester of grad school after finishing my first with a 4.0.
February
Went to my first housing conference.
Accepted my ACUHO-I internship position with Purdue Northwest University
March
Went to my first NASPA and made some amazing connections.
April
Initiated into Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
May
Made the drive to Indiana to start my Internship, finished my first year of grad school with a 4.0, and had a successful first year in housing.
June-July
Stayed in Indiana for two months, made some great connections with Purdue employees, went to Chicago, and completed a successful internship and a summer course.
August
Turned 30 and started my last year of grad school, transitioned from a graduate assistant to an Assistant Community Director over two buildings, and started working more on homecoming.
October
Nominated and voted in to serve as the Master student for the Graduate Faculty Council representing my program, started my trainings to become an advisor for Gamma Phi Beta, and helped kick off and run a successful week of Homecoming events.

I saw the completion of my second to last semester of grad school in December. I also saw the start of my Student Affairs Job Search with a first round interview with Texas Tech University. I always seem to exhale a sigh of relief knowing that once the New Year starts, the last semester will be starting and the job search will be intensifying. I am looking forward to graduating with my Masters degree in Higher Education Administration.

Looking to 2017, the job search and graduation aside, there is a few things that I really hope to accomplish.

  • Read more books and articles on higher education/Student Affairs
    • I feel I get sucked into the Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime portal sometimes and I forget that I have so many books and articles actually saved to read.
  • Write more blogs, especially if there is a buzz worthy topic floating the field
    • This blogging concept is actually kind of fun and I want to commit to it more.
  • Prepare for my move to the next chapter in my life
    • I’m out of credit card debt for the most part, but I still have a spending problem. I really need to cut back and save my money.
    • I also need to work on minimizing and preparing myself for this move. I don’t know where 2017 is going to take me on my job search but I have a lot of stuff.
  • Be more health conscious
    • Every year I swear I’m going to lose weight and be better about what I’m eating and drinking. However, each week, I get wrapped up in my own stress and find myself chugging Mountain Dew and eating more McDonalds than I should (Blame it on Grad School). I need to change.

These are my main goals right now. They seem really attainable as long as I keep my motivation up and remain persistent to attain them. I’m ready to move from the SAGrad life to the SAPro!

I’m really excited for 2017!

Elizabeth R. Webb

 

Going Greek in Grad School

17027949394_7be70d8cf3_k

Fraternity and Sorority Life at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, Texas.

On April 15, 2016, I was initiated into the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority at Texas A&M University-Commerce. It was one of the most amazing experiences I could have ever dreamed about going through. Something unique about my initiation process into a sorority, however, is that I entered the sisterhood as a graduate student seeking my master’s degree.  Joining a Greek chapter of a sorority or fraternity, post-undergraduate, can have its benefits, though  it does come with the struggle. This blog will go into detail about joining a Greek organization, specifically a Panhellenic sorority, during graduate school and how to make the most out of the opportunity.

Graduate v Undergraduate Process
For some students, rushing a sorority, or even a fraternity, can be a stressful process.  It can be overwhelming if the school’s Greek Life is large, if the student is introverted, or the opportunity to go Greek gets overshadowed by other factors such as finances or employment. Two of these were my circumstance; I was introverted with a dash of self-consciousness. Plus, I worked two jobs that would not allow me the time to commit.

Students who chose not to go through Greek recruitment in his or her undergrad can look to a different process known as the alumnae initiate program. The alumnae initiate programs allow for students or non-students who meet the standards of membership to join and commit to the lifelong journey. The one part that I loved and appreciated about this process was that it felt stress free, and allowed some flexibility. I did not feel overwhelmed. This process looks different for all organizations, which leads me to next important part of going Greek as a graduate student… Research.

Research, Research, Research
While the university Fraternity and Sorority office is a great first resource for getting involved in a Greek organization, it can only do so much such as helping you to identify what is available to join and establishing a connection with the staff member. The next step is to take the list of available organizations and research. This option cannot be stressed enough. Research, research, research, and research some more. Not all organizations offer an alum process, fraternity or sorority, so find out what kind of alum initiation process they have. Does it require an application? A letter of recommendation? An essay? Find out and start thinking about how to get the letter of recommendation. One piece that helped me through my process in Gamma Phi Beta, was that I knew friends who went through recruitment at another school in the same organization. When researching, look at the organization’s mission and philanthropy. It is important to see if the said organization is going to align with your personal values and beliefs.

As a graduate student, there can be  limited chances to get to know the organizations because formal recruitment is typically for undergraduates. Upon doing research, make contact with members of the sorority to ask about the alumnae initiation process, if alumnae are involved with the collegiate chapter anyway, and ask them about their experience with the chapter. It is reasonable to explain your desires and ask them what they love about being in his or her chapter.  The best piece of advice I can give to anyone seeking recruitment, as a graduate student, is to do your research and be thorough with research. As a graduate student, you are essentially picking your Greek chapter. The contact you receive from members and the research can tell you a lot in an instant.

Be Active!
Do not join a Greek letter organization just for the letters and the ability to say “I am a member of ______ Sorority or Fraternity.” As stated above, the alum status looks different than the collegiate status. It is always best to make sure the organization chosen  is connected to the campus you currently attend. The next step is to be persistent in making sure you meet the requirements and pay dues. The final step, after initiation, is to figure out how to make the letters mean something. Getting involved and being an active alumna member has been the toughest challenge since my initiation. I felt like I was playing email tag a lot of the time to get involved but I have found some ways:

  1. Advisor status and role
    1. If you are in a position to serve in an advisory board capacity for your school chapter, figure out how, and take the necessary training.
    2. If you work on campus, there is the opportunity to connect with other Greek campus partners, especially within the Higher Education/Student Affairs field. This field alone gives you access to other ways through NASPA and ACPA to support and be present.
  2. Help the collegiate chapter
    1. Even if you are not at the level to be an advisor, the collegiates probably always need help, and it can be rewarding to give back to the collegiate chapter, even if you were not an active collegian.
  3. Local Alumnae chapter involvement
    1. Depending on the organization, there are alumnae chapters throughout various cities and states. This is the best way to connect with other alumna and find out volunteer opportunities.
  4. National and Regional level involvement
    1. This stage of involvement is one that can allow members to do more for the sorority and make connections across the United States.

Final Thoughts
Jumping into an organization that has a lot of guidelines to follow and learn can be intimidating. Trying to be active and involved as an alum initiate can feel like a daunting process that gets you nowhere but the run around on emails. It can also give you the feeling that you are being left out of what the collegiate members are doing. However, when you push through, remain persistent, keep an open mind, and above all, be positive about the experience, doors will open with your organization. Even as a graduate alumna initiate, you are a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Being a member of a sorority or fraternity can enhance your personal and professional network. There is room to grow in any organization, even if you graduated from the collegiate chapter and transitioned to alum status.

My Journey to Student Affairs

My journey in Student Affairs started at community college in the middle of Mesquite, Texas called Eastfield College. When I graduated from high school, I was really self conscious about if I could make it through any type of school. While, I didn’t do awful in high school, A/B honor roll student, graduating somewhere in the top 15 percent of my class, I was always unsure. It was about three years after saying goodbye to high school that I took the plunge and enrolled at Eastfield. I was enrolled as a night student, taking lots of music classes to start and of course, remedial math classes. I knew I would need… math was not my strong suite! I didn’t let it phase me though. Once I was in school, I found I was going to flourish. Once I lost my full time job, I began to go to class during the day and spend every hour I could at Eastfield through involvement in the school newspaper and volunteering.

225488_575998658871_4919386_n

My first leadership  experience was an interesting one. I was stuck outside at the flag pole with a guy, waiting for a leadership retreat to start. It was at some off campus location. However, this guy, Doug, and I didn’t get the memo that it had been canceled.  We spent a good hour just talking and getting to know each other before we ventured into the Student life Office to meet the director, Judy Schwartz. She was apologetic and super kind. I could see that she really cared about students in one introduction. I didn’t know it at the time but this woman was going to have an impact on my life.

For the remainder of the my time at Eastfield, I was heavily involved in the school newspaper. I went from volunteer to the Editor in Chief and helped the newspaper win awards. On the other side, I volunteered and ended becoming a student ambassador and leader for Eastfield. Representing Eastfield was something I took a great deal of pride in. I served in the role of orientation leader and various officer positions for student clubs including Phi Theta Kappa, a prestigious honor society, and the Student Government Association. Being a student leader was invigorating. I enjoyed being connected with other students.  Meanwhile, I was also doing very well with my classes, putting myself in a position to graduate with honors and with my associates degree. At first, I was reluctant to continue to my education; however, I realized that I wasn’t ready to stop so I applied to the University of North Texas and was accepted.

600873_10151757676162057_870502759_n

While at UNT, I struggled. I started out in communication design and moved to advertising for my major. My heart wasn’t into being a journalism major, but because of my credits, I had to finish. It was a struggle because as much I wanted to get my degree, I didn’t feel the same buzz until I became involved. I was employed at Student Activities, volunteered with the Mayborn School of Journalism and eventually became an orientation leader and attended the LeaderShape institute.  It was a challenge to keep my involvement up because I was constantly working duel jobs. However, I managed and realized that going into graphic design and advertising was not my passion. While, I loved designing and used it to advertise student programs and events for UNT Student Activities as well as UNT GLAD, going into the business and an advertising agency wasn’t what I wanted for a career.

I made the decision to apply to graduate school for Student Affairs. My first application was to the University of Oklahoma. It was through some unfortunate need to finish classes, that I had to withdraw even though I had everything I could possibly need from the classes, the financial aid and the perfect housing position. I needed to finish my bachelors and OU just wouldn’t work with me. It was then that I applied to Texas A&M University-Commerce. I was listed under the Higher Education Administration program and working as an Assistant Community Director.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-10-39-55-pm

So far at TAMU-C, I have had an interesting journey. I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0, been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society for Leadership and Success and seen myself become very successful. I’ve gotten to know several students, working closely with the ones in the residence halls. One thing I am most proud of is being initiated into Gamma Phi Beta sorority. While I joined as an alumna, it has been an interesting but satisfying journey so far as I take on advisor rolls to get involved and close to the sorority. I was nominated to the Graduate Council as the Master Student’s representative. My personal involvement through graduate school has been a rewarding component to my education. Working in residence life has been rewarding so far from being an assistant community director for various buildings here and then an ACUHO-I Intern at Purdue Northwest University. I’ve enjoyed helping students and being on call duty rotation. I’m one semester out from graduating and ready to get further into the Student Affairs field and I’ve never been more certain of my career path.
16334-event-rll-staff-7938-xl

Final Blog: What I learned in Ethics

By Elizabeth Webb

Prior to this class, I had only gotten a small taste of ethics in previous advertising and journalism classes. I had no idea the topic of ethics was so vast and overwhelming. I learned a lot in this class from the different theories copyright and trademark. Also, it was interesting to see examples of how companies have messed up and how they’ve handled the situations.

I anticipate this class will help me in whatever future career or job I will hold. Learning some of the different ways companies messed up and how they handled the situations was eye opening. When people accidently tweet on their corporate accounts, words and actions have a lot of weight. They can come back to bite companies in the butt.

A newer case to look at is the Blue Bell Ice Cream controversy with ice cream being recalled due to listeria outbreak. I applaud their decision to pull product from the shelves and do a deep cleaning of the Blue Bell factories. I think they handled the situation well, and I am honestly ready to o have Blue Bell back in stores. That is just one example of an ethical case to look at.

Ethics are important. I believe this class should be a requirement for students in any sort of business major, not just journalism. Ethics can be related to any field. I will definitely use what I learned in this class in future careers. I think everyday people have the opportunity to act unethical. For example, I work at Denton Regional Medical Center as an EVS tech. In short, I’m a housekeeper and I clean up the rooms after the patient is discharge. To clean the room faster, I could make the unethical decision to clean quickly and not bother to wipe down some of the high touch areas or the patients bed. That would be unethical though. My failure to clean a room thoroughly could cause another patient to get sick. This class has taught me that sometimes you have to think of how to benefit others and do the most good.