Career Planning/Decision Making

Posted on February 17, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The concept of career planning/decision making has always been a scary one for me. Despite the fact that I spent seven years away from school before returning for my masters degree, I have never spent much time  researching career paths and am still not quite sure how being on one will look or feel. Part of me has always been apprehensive about making long term plans because of the potential disappointment when things fall through or when circumstances change and I have to start all over.

Despite these fears, I have definitely solidified the areas of student affairs that I am most excited about pursuing careers in during my time in graduate school. While I remain convinced that things will change and I will adapt accordingly, I have a strategy for my current job search and am slowly implementing it. I have also identified the workplace environments that I would be most happy in and will try to ascertain these factors during interviews and campus visits.

My ideal position would involve plenty of opportunities to work with student in one-on-one and small group settings. I am interested in positions that give me the chance to reach out to the larger campus community through presentations, teaching opportunities and sitting on various committees, but where the bulk of my job is still student interactions. I have a great passion for working with students who are transferringinto the college community and therefore will seek positions where I get to be an active part in their integration process. Given that my experiences in both my assistantship with UESP met these expectations, I am currently looking for jobs in both academic advising and judicial affairs. My job search has primarily consisted of repeatedly checking higheredjobs.com and NACADA’s website for job updates. I have also added the HR sites of colleges I would really enjoy working at to my favorites menu. It has been a bit disappointing to see so few conduct coordinator positions available, but I plan to stay active in this area of student affairs by volunteering to be on the equivalent of OSU’s Student Conduct Committee and do anything else that allows me to stay abreast of conduct related issues.

I have made the choice not attend the NASPA placement exchange because I do not think that it is a healthy venue for me to conduct interviews or network within and have also made the decision to not seek out positions  in-residence (even though that is where the most entry-level conduct positions are located) because I need a more clear separation between my work and my life. While I would like to work somewhere in the western United States, I have not ruled out any other area of the country as long as the job is something I am passionate about doing.

In terms of what I want out of a work environment, first and foremost I want colleagues who are willing and able to collaborate with one another and where respect and clear communication are valued. I want to work in an office where new ideas are free to circulate and everyone supports the overall mission of the office, department and college. Professional development should be valued and promoted, whether that involves giving individuals the right to attend certain events or creating division wide activities. I want to have the support of my supervisors engage in learning communities across campus as well as within the professional organizations I belong to during my career.  I want to work with people who recognize the benefits of live-work balance and try to model it and support it in others.

I realize that all of these factors may not come together in my first job; I will have to be flexible and patient as I learn the ropes at a new place and test the waters to see what elements I like and which are challenging. Despite the hesitations I have about leaving, I am very excited about my next adventure and quite confident that the decisions I am making now will pay off in years to come.

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional

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