Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Come so far, got so far to go

by Rachel

So it's my first blog post, yay! As my second full month as a CCI here at the CPDC (we love our acronyms!) draws to a close, I've been reflecting back on how far I've come.  Today, at the suggestion of one of the career consultants, I made a spread sheet to keep track of how many appointments and what type of appointments I've had so far.  I've only been seeing students on my own for two weeks, but I've already had 9 students! Then I counted up the resumes I reviewed before the Fall EOC, and realized I had reviewed 17 in the month of September.  It seems with every appointment something comes up that I'm not entirely sure of the answer, but I'm starting to realize that this isn't a job that I could learn from a book or from power points; at a certain point you have to jump right in and learn baptism by fire style.  Looking at these numbers, I realize that while I still may have a lot to learn, what I have learned is starting to weigh heavier on the scales.

While I'm helping to guide students on their way to having successful careers, I'm also realizing this internship is helping me develop my own career.  An area I've always struggled is asking for help when I've needed to. I'm learning, especially in the career field, that there's always someone that can help you come up with another resource and a different angle to look at a student's issue from.  Even with everyday tasks, I have umpteen great resources right outside my door to help me expand my knowledge.  Even if career services isn't the direction that I ultimately go in student affairs, the skills I'm developing in this office will help me wherever I go.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're Baaack!

by Christin

The summer is over…aaand so is September (WHAT?!)…and the Career Counseling Interns have returned to the CPDC!  September is a crazy month in our office, which explains the delay in posting.  I wasn’t here last September, so the madness this year was all new to me. 

Two weeks ago, we had a week full of job fairs.  Literally, 4 fairs in 4 days.  Not to mention the weeks of preparation that led up to the madness we christened “Career Week”.  As you can imagine, this meant chaos (good chaos, but chaos none the less) for both our staff as well as the student body.  Now that things have started to calm down a bit, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my summer and what the coming year will hold.

This summer, I had a completely different internship experience-I interned in Recruitment for a different university in the Pittsburgh area.  I was really excited for this opportunity as I wanted to do something outside of career services, and see if it was a good fit for me.  I truly cannot speak more highly of my experience.  I learned an insane amount in a short period of time, and was given responsibilities an intern would typically never have.  I really had to step up to the plate, and looking back, I am really proud of everything I accomplished.  I also saw a lot of similarities between the student Recruitment process and one’s Career Development.  Rather than being about the numbers, it was about helping students to find their “fit”.  I can definitely see myself working in Recruitment/Admissions when I graduate, and I’m excited that I now have the skill set and experience to make that possible.   

After my experience this summer, and coming back to CMU and diving right in, I feel like I am finally coming into my own in the field of Student Affairs.  Every day, I get better at and more comfortable with what I do.  I want to excel, and I feel like I’m finally at a place where I can focus on continually improving in order to better serve our students.

I’m excited for this year-We have a new batch of great CCI’s, I am working with a new College (Tepper!), I have a number of goals I want to accomplish, and I have a better understanding of where I want to be, personally and professionally, in 7 months. 

I GRADUATE in 7 months.  Well, technically, 6 ½ months.

There’s a lot that needs to happen in that amount of time, and a lot of decisions that need to be made.  I’m insanely nervous about where I’ll be (I’m a J!  I need a plan!), but I’m also really excited to see what ends up happening. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Secret to Finding the Perfect Job

by Jake

No Pandora today, instead I'm streaming the new Manchester Orchestra album, Simple Math.

Okay, everyone, I'm ready to share the secret.  I've been searching, applying, and interviewing for full time Student Affairs jobs since December.  I've been following SA Tweeters, reading their blogs, and reading the blogs they read.  I've had my ear to the ground and turned over every stone (except heavy ones).  At the end of the day, I've found an answer...

There is no secret.

Sorry, y'all, but it's the truth.  Construct the perfect resume.  Write the perfect cover letter.  Apply to the perfect job in the perfect location.  At the end of the day, you will be united with the right job.

There is no perfection.

Every job will have its downside to go with its upside.  Every location will lack something.  Every supervisor will have a flaw.  There really is no such thing as a perfect job.  Sorting through those flaws to find the best fit is how we determine which job is the right job.

Every resume and cover letter will be viewed differently.  One person on the search committee may value a creative resume with superb writing while another will be in search of facts and content.  One person may prefer your experience as an RA while others may be more interested in your first prize for raising sheep for wool during your internship in Scotland.  Why put in the job description that I should have a sense of humor if I can't make sarcastic remarks in my cover letter?  Dates on the right or the left?  Who cares!

This internship is ending and I'd like to share the one thought that reigns supreme in the career search and the search for meaning at-large:

Be true to yourself.

Let's face it, search committees can sift through the BS, so why bother giving it to them.  If you don't want to work by yourself, then apply for jobs where you'll work on teams.  If you can't stand working outside the city, then apply to jobs in metropolitan areas.  If you are allergic to cats, then avoid the apprenticeship with the cat farm down the street.

You'll land the job that fits because you genuinely want to do that work in that place with those people.  Some of us may have to settle for a less-glamorous job at the start, but keep shooting higher and higher because that great fit may only be an application away.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


by Christin

Wow, it’s been awhile since I have posted anything here.  However, this is the interns’ final week at CMU, so I figured I should finish out strong.  I can’t believe how quickly this school year and internship have flown by!  Not to be obnoxiously cliché, but life moves pretty fast.  (Come on, you know my cheesy comment was worth watching a Ferris Bueller clip…)

I’m halfway done with my graduate program.  I’m starting a new internship at the University of Pittsburgh next week.  (Don’t worry, I will be back at CMU and blogging again in the fall!)  In a few months I will start to search for full-time jobs.  Eep!  So many changes.  This is exciting.  And crazy.

As a graduate student, I sometimes feel as though my life is in a constant state of flux.  Every few months I have new classes, new internships, new professors, and new classmates.  I know that I am very blessed to have all of these varied, rich opportunities and experiences.  I also know that they will add a lot of strength to my resume.  But I sometimes struggle, because living with all this change is not my preferred state of being. 

Hair-do, study habits, wardrobe, my order at Chipotle.  For better or for worse, I rarely ever change these.  Or most things in my life, really.

I’m a “J” on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  This means I like order, structure, schedules, and predictability.  Not only do I simply like these things, but living in a predictable, structured manner is my strong preference.  It helps me to operate best, to get things done, and to exist in a sane manner.

Clearly, change sometimes rattles me.  Therefore, it’s kind of ironic that I am going into such a dynamic field of work.  However, I think my crazy life as a graduate student is preparing me to embrace a changing world and live with the ambiguity.  I’ve found the more I am forced out of my comfort zone, the more I am given the opportunity to grow and become a better version of myself.  

So, I find myself pleasantly surprised in being able to say that I am excited for the changes that lie ahead.  I’m excited to have a new experience at Pitt this summer.  I’m excited to come back to CMU in the fall and have a different experience than I did this year.  I am learning that change is good.  I just need to remind myself that variety is the spice of life, there is a plan, and all of this will benefit me greatly in the end!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Job Search is Scary

by Jake

Pandora station: Arcade Fire

Days have been coming and going in the ongoing progression toward graduation (May 1) and my first full-time job in Student Affairs (TBD).  That's basically the only way I can describe it.  One day ends and another begins with a new set of to-dos and a list of cool jobs to apply for.  With school days approaching their (terminal?) end, at least that to-do list will begin to feature "go to a museum" rather than "type a paper about some higher ed topic". 

The work doesn't stop, though.  Every day I encounter a college that I hadn't thought of or considered for employment and they happen to have a job in one of my interest areas; career counseling, residence life, student activities, admissions, academic advising.  With every new job discovery comes a new sense of urgency that I must apply for this job today or I will not be considered.  Rarely is this actually true, but I have certainly applied for a few jobs (especially in ResLife) that have been posted for months without an end date, but have already moved forward with the interview process.

I am a nostalgic person, clearly, so leaving home, family, and friends is a difficult pill to swallow.  I think I've consumed it, though.  It's become clear that it is unlikely I will be in Pittsburgh this time next year (or in a few months), so I just have to suck it up and think about the benefits that come with a new experience.  As I've written on my personal blog in the past, I have fallen in love with the idea of leaving on several occasions.  This feeling can certainly come and go with the coming and going of actual opportunities.  I think it's just easy for me to think about leaving now because I don't have any interviews on my plate at the moment, so there's no tangible thought of "what would it be like to live in _____".

It's scary to start something new.  It's exciting, too.  Starting over, finding new friends, creating a new life, these things are all invigorating and exhausting.  On one hand, I know that I'll miss my friends, church, family, and life in Pittsburgh.  On the other hand, I can't wait to check out a new music scene and hopefully be hundreds of miles away from any performance by Motley Crue or the Clarks.

The most important thing I'll say today is that you should be excited about the job and location every time you apply.  The thought of moving would be a whole lot scarier if I were applying for jobs I didn't love in cities I wasn't excited about living in.  Sure, 40 hours of your life is a long time so you should enjoy your job, but even the coolest job won't get me to Cleveland.  I'm only applying for jobs I'd enjoy in cities that I'd love.  I know that if I want a change I can always come back in a few years, but I'd rather hold on to that chance of falling in love with somewhere new.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Social Media

by Jake

Pandora station: City and Colour

Last week was the ACPA Conference in Baltimore, MD.  I went to the conference with a cohort of Pitt students as well as a few co-workers from CMU.  I've been thinking about something profound to bring back from the conference, but I'll just map out a few important things that have stuck out to me in the week since.

The Internet is big. 

I went to a few seminars on social media to learn how we can utilize different applications in the office and in the job search.  I am currently preparing a presentation for the office about the things I learned, but there are so many different applications that can be useful that are available for free online.  Besides the old-reliables like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, there is a whole collection of media devices that can be useful in the workplace. 

LinkedIn is a professional social networking tool utilized by over one million users.

Polleverywhere can be used to take polls using text messaging or Twitter that can be displayed right in a powerpoint.

About.me is a site where you can create a simple online business card.  Here's mine!

Doodle is a site that can help to coordinate meetings.

Weebly is a simple web page creator.

These are all useful resources that an intermediate computer user can utilize in making their office more hi-tech, efficient, and exciting.

The world is small.

That being said, social networking has made this a very tiny place.  I am currently involved in a job search and have had a few interviews, but I don't want to mention any of them with the fear of showing bias for one which might take me out of the running for the others.  Social networking devices like Twitter are fun to use in sharing exciting news, but the Internet has made the world small enough that I know employers can read everything I'm putting online.

With this in mind, we must brand ourselves.  Google yourself; see what comes up.  Are you writing things on Twitter and Blogger that you wouldn't mind a potential employer reading?  Did you remember to take down every embarrassing picture from Facebook?  Do you still have that Myspace account with your high school girlfriend's pet names written all over the comments?  These are some things that need to be addressed and double-checked before the job search gets too intense.

The old school hand-shaking of networking still exists, though, so you had still better be on your best behavior in the real world.  These professional networks on sites like LinkedIn still have to start with the real in-person interactions of the past, so put your best foot forward.  And try to wear a tie.

For more information about using social media in Student Affairs, check out the research done by Rey Junco.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Developing as a Professional

by Christin

One of the many things we focus on here at the CPDC is fostering students’ professional development through a number of different means.  “Professional development” is such a broad term, and it can refer to a number of different things: college coursework, attending workshops, informal learning opportunities, and so on.  Truly, in almost every interaction with students, I am seeking to help them develop professional skills and values which they will use in their careers.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to engage in some of my own professional development by attending the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) national convention in Baltimore, MD.  This conference is geared toward practitioners, educators, and graduate students in the student affairs field.  I didn’t know what to expect, as this was my first major student affairs conference, but I was definitely excited.

So how was it?

My response to people who ask about the conference has been pretty standard: “I learned a lot.  I met a lot of new people.  I had fun.”  Duh.  Great answer, Christin. 

Really, though, I DID learn a lot.  I’m a huge nerd, but since I’ve been back in school I haven’t been as excited about learning as I hoped or expected I would be.  However, attending this conference and going to sessions about current research in the field of higher education re-ignited my desire to learn, think, and generate new ideas.  I again felt like that undergrad I once knew (all of two years ago… I’m so nostalgic) who loved to think about the “big questions” and generate her own thoughts about them.  I’ve even started to develop a possible research topic if I ever decide to get my PhD: relating Baxter-Magola’s Model of Epistemological Reflection to students’ spiritual development and religiosity…I know, you’re immediately intrigued, right?

I also DID meet a lot of new people.  I’m always telling my students to network, network, network.  Literally, I just say that and leave them to figure out how to do it.  (Kidding).  But this gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach.  For an introvert like me, networking is hard!  However, it’s important and totally worth it.  I came home with a ton of great new ideas, contacts, and LinkedIn connections all from engaging in a little bit of networking.

In these ways, the conference was refreshing; I was reminded of why I enjoy this field, and I was able to share that experience with 3,000+ other people who feel the same way.  However, the conference was also totally exhausting!  Late nights, early mornings, day-long sessions, and an infection I picked up from the hotel (yeah, disgusting) really wore me down.  But despite that it was such a worthwhile professional development experience.  When I’m in the daily grind, I forget how important opportunities like this are, and this week was a really good reminder.