ACUHO-I. NODA. NACA. Oh, My!

It’s about that time of the year. The best time of the year. Job search season is right around the corner and you can feel it in the air. There is a heightened sense of pressure, intensity, and stress all around. Conversations are being overtaken by topics of resumes and cover letters. LinkedIn profiles are being updated and social media profiles are going through major changes. It’s a thrill. Everyone is on edge and there is a nervous excitement that seems to envelope everything.

If you are a soon-to-be graduate, you know exactly what I am talking about. Finding a job after high school/college/etc. is terrifying. If you are a first year #SAGrad, you probably are looking for an internship right now. You too know this feeling being described. I know. Because just a year ago I was in your shoes. And, a year before that I was going through this process for my first time.

Whether you’re on the search for the perfect grad school/program, job, or internship you’re feeling the same way as many many people out there right now. Look around, I am sure you see it too!

This process is exciting and scary at the same time. Your body almost can’t handle the emotions and stress that you’re putting it through. But, I promise you will be just fine!


I’m going to give you some advice – now I can’t really talk about the job search – because I’ve never really been on one. But I can tell you the grad school/program search is a wild ride. But, you will end up where you’re supposed to be. Just be patient. Have a little faith. And, don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone! I can also tell you the internship search process is perhaps even better. I LOVED my experience!

I wanted to share a little about my experience and talk to you about the internship process, as I think it can be a little tough to navigate.


So, if you’re a #SAGrad and are freaking out about your internship search right now, here are a few things that I think you should keep in mind.

Location: Are you geographically bound? Are you willing to spend three months anywhere? Or do you have a specific destination in mind. Consider this when applying and making final decisions.

Institution type: This is important. Are you interested in working at a public institution? Or do you want an experience at a private institution? Some institutions are religiously affiliated. Do you want to work at a predominantly white institution? Or are you looking for a historically black college or other minority serving institution? Do you want to work at a community college? Trades school? Or four year university?

Keep this in mind. Are you willing to work for an institution that doesn’t align with your values? I’m not. This is perhaps the most important characteristic for me. I WILL NOT work somewhere that doesn’t align with my values or provide me the support that I seek in a professional setting. So, know if the institution that you’re applying to work for is religiously affiliated or has different values than you. Read mission and vision statements for the university and the department you’d be working for. Ask these questions in interviews.

Size: Large institutions. Small institutions. Mid-sized universities. There are so many options. For me, I needed a new and different experience. I attended Northern Michigan University for my undergraduate studies and the University of South Dakota for grad school. Both had student populations right around 10,000. I needed something smaller or larger…but knew that I didn’t want an internship experience at another mid-sized university.

Experience: Go into your internship search knowing what kind of experience you want. Do you want to work in Housing & Residence Life? Orientation and New Student Programs? Conferences? Student Activities? Do you want to work at a national organization’s headquarters? Or do you want an on-campus experience? What do you want to learn from your internship? What skills/strengths can you bring to your internship experience that will set you apart from other applicants?

Be mindful and intentional when applying for internships so you wind up finding something that you really want to do, and something that you’ll gain a lot from.

For me this was simple. I wanted out of the Midwest. I wanted to work at a really small or really large institution. I wanted to do something with Residence Life. I needed to be supervising student employees. I wanted to find something in a city that I would enjoy. I needed both opportunities for adventure and exploration as well as socializing and networking.

I highly recommend researching not only the campus and institution community, but also the city you’ll be working in. What is the population? What are the demographics? Does the city have a nightlife? Young professionals network? Is there public transportation? Is it biker/walker friendly? What are the food options? Is there a coffee shop or a brewery? What is the shopping like? Where is the nearest mall? I live in a pretty remote area and that was perfect for me, but I know some people can’t survive without a mall, a Chick-fil-A, and a couple bars.

Use your interests and needs to help you narrow your search, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.


What is it that you’re looking for in an internship? Not sure? Give it some thought. Ask your supervisor, staff members, and peers what they think your strengths are and what you’d benefit from experiencing. Use your head and your heart when making a decision. Don’t accept something that you know you won’t enjoy.

Sometimes internships lead to full-time jobs (mine did!) so do something you’ll enjoy and go somewhere you will want to be. Put your all into this process and have fun!

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to hit me up. I would love to share my input and experiences with others.

Good luck!

-Joel

 

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A few Thoughts on Social Media.

Yesterday I received the sweetest text message from one of my (writing this made me realize for the first time how possessive this sounds. Ugh. They are not my RAs but are each amazing individuals. I don’t own them. Oh my gosh!) the RAs on my staff saying that she needed to block me on Twitter. She went on to explain to me that it was nothing against me or the way I used Twitter, but rather that she uses Twitter as a personal space and that she didn’t want to mix work and personal life on this platform – especially given that she was connected with her boss.

This exchange led to the realization that social media is deeply personal and that everyone uses social differently. While, I think that I’ve known this all along, it took this conversation with a staff member to really put things into perspective for me.

Here’s what I’m thinking.


We live in a world that is constantly connected. Pretty much everyone has some sort of internet/social media presence – In my personal opinion everyone should. The way of the world is changing and if you don’t have a digital presence you’re going to be left behind. You don’t have to be posting and sharing constantly, but rather simply have an understanding of the popular technology and platforms being used and the benefits and costs associated with them.

Social media serves the purpose of connecting one another. It was created so that communities could be built. Given that it was meant for relationship building and connections, it makes sense that social media is deeply personal. Why wouldn’t it be?

I believe that social should be deeply personal. I think that for social media to serve its purpose, you must use it authentically. This requires personalization, intimacy, and shared trust in other users.

Everyone uses social media differently. Some people only use one platform. Some people use all the platforms. Some people lie somewhere in the middle of that spectrum – like me! Some people use different accounts in different ways. I’ll use myself as an example.


I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and obviously, WordPress. I use each of these platforms very intentionally – and I created each account with the purpose of using them intentionally and positively. I will never post/share/say something on social that I wouldn’t do or say in person, or wouldn’t be willing to back up/support if questioned by someone who saw it online.

I use Facebook very irregularly. I check it once a day – if that. I’ve had a very on-and-off relationship with Facebook since I created it when I was a freshman in high school and was hiding my profile from my parents. I didn’t really use Facebook because I didn’t have a smartphone or WiFi at the time…but I felt I had to have one to fit in at school…what a joke. I started being pretty active on Facebook in college – sharing photos, posting status updates, sharing things my friends had posted, joining groups, etc. This continued until my junior and senior year. I deleted Facebook for over a year because I just needed to take a break from the negativity, focus on school, and disconnect for a while. Since reactivating my account after college graduation, I now use Facebook just to share these blog posts and the occasional news article or happening from an organization that I follow. I pretty much just have Facebook to ensure my family members that I’m still alive.

I use Twitter very professionally. I created my Twitter account my senior year of college because I was in a social media communications class and at the time only had an Instagram account. We focused on digital and media literacy in this course and what it means to be a user of new media. When I created this account, I told myself I would only use it to connect with others positively and professionally. I have stuck to that. I share glimpses of myself, my personality, but also use this platform to connect with Higher Education, Communication and Public Relations professionals, musicians, and companies and organizations that I love. I participate in Twitter Chats regularly and follow news and current trends on this platform.

Instagram is the most personal of my profiles. I think photo sharing is a great way to be deeply personal and authentic – perfect for my intentional use of social. I use this platform to share my adventures with you all and to be more fun, lighthearted, and carefree than on my other profiles. You will see my personality shine through photos of my educational/professional endeavors, coffee dates, random runs around lakes or fields, hikes through the wilderness, and other completely random musings.

Lastly, LinkedIn is a very business professional profile. I created this account my senior year while I was on the job/grad school search. I now try to keep this profile updated as an online resume of sorts, but don’t do much sharing or posting on here. I connect with people I meet on Twitter, at conferences, through work, and socially, but I connect with people on this account more to keep a constant flow of circles and networks growing than anything else.

Obviously, y’all know how I use my blog. It’s basically just a space to share my ever constant flow of thoughts and ramblings…but also because I really love writing and I hope to share snippets of my life with others so that it may make waves in their life in some way. Hopefully that’s happening to some of you.


That’s my social media presence in a nutshell. Was it personal enough for you? Do you think that my profiles capture what I just shared with you? I hope so, because that is my intent. I really want to use my accounts to be personal and share my life experiences with others so that you get to know me in a deeper, more meaningful way. That being said, I also acknowledge the fact that others use social in far different ways and that is perfectly fine. Who am I to judge what someone else posts on social? Because I don’t have a clue what their life is like and what they’re experiencing. Why would I judge a stupid fricken social media post? After all, if they’re being personal, authentic, and can back up something that they post, I think they’re doing social media right.

All of my social media accounts are unprotected, meaning anyone can follow me at any time. I do this purposefully. I want people to connect with me. I want people to feel comfortable connecting with me. I want people – like future employers and students both – to see that I don’t have anything to hide or be ashamed of posting and if they have questions about something that I have posted on social that they believe is questionable, it is my hopes that they challenge me on it and bring it up in conversation.


Another thing that I want to point out about this awesome text message is that it made me realize that I am very transparent with my (ugh I did it again…) staff and students about social media use – especially when it comes to following me and other professionals.

I tell students that they can follow me on social, but that I am hesitant to follow back. I also tell them, that if I do happen to follow them back or their account is open and I see something that is questionable or concerning that I will have a conversation with them about it. I challenge any student or staff member that follows me to be conscious of the fact that I may or may not follow them back and that they need to be aware of the things that they post because of this. I encourage students to think about what they’re posting/sharing/creating and how it may impact the people who may see it. I remind students that perception is far greater than reality when it comes to social media and that social only shows certain viewpoints of life and we can’t get so caught up in that.

I realized from this text message that I am having these conversations about social all the time, but it took a simple text message from someone on my staff to make me think about the importance and relevance of self-care and self-preservation in this connected world.


Social media is crazy and can be destructive if not used properly. That’s why I think it is so important that we are thinking critically about social and how we use it. It’s also why I am so impressed by this RA and her willingness to confront me and express her concern for our connection on Twitter.

Someone that I care deeply and genuinely about and work with every day isn’t comfortable connecting with me on a certain platform because she knows herself well enough to know that the way she uses this channel is not an appropriate way of connecting with me. That is so cool! I’m really proud of her for that. I think we all should be thinking about this when connecting with others on social. We must be thinking about the messages that we are conveying to the world online.

Think about it y’all. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and perspectives on this. Feel free to reach out!

-Joel

Celebrate. Life is Fine!

I should be working on homework, but I just can’t seem to muster up the energy or the motivation to do so. Instead, I am on my couch with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Family of the Year is playing on my computer. I’m writing this blog post rather than my research paper that is past due.

This research paper was due on November 8th and I still haven’t started. I am on my second deadline extension. I’ve never asked for an extension before. Not once. But now, I’m on my second. For one assignment. You could say the struggle is real.

I have been sick for a week. I never get sick…so this knocked me out.

I’ve officially fallen into my November slump. I’ve written about this before. You can read last year’s post here. It sucks. November just sucks. Every year I try my hardest to avoid this depressive state that I fall into. Every year, depression wins.

The temperatures are dropping. The leaves have fallen. Everyone is sick. The sunlight is fading. It’s just a month from the end of semester. I’ve been working my ass off. We all have. And just like that, my motivation is gone. My cares are gone. My light has dimmed. It’s November once again.


Today is the ten year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. Seriously, how the hell have ten years gone by already? I have no clue. But it sucks. I can’t believe it’s been ten years already. Like, hi, hello? Where’d the time go? It feels like yesterday I was lying on the living room floor at my parents house. Screaming into the void. Sobbing uncontrollably. Receiving the worst news of my life.

It’s been ten years already. It feels like a lifetime ago. I was a completely different person. The world was a different place. Things were easier back then.

I feel like I don’t even remember her anymore. Who was she? Who was I? Like I said, it was a lifetime ago. I would do anything just to have one more day. Even a moment. But, it’s too late for that. She’s gone. She’s been gone for ten years.

Wow! Ten years? Yet, it’s just the beginning. More years will pass and days will go by. And every day, a sliver of memories will disappear. Fade into the blackness. Every day I’ll move forward. Make new memories. Memories that are worlds away from those of my childhood. Those with my grandmother.


It’s weird to think that in the happiest year of my life, I can still be hit in the face with the depression that November brings. It’s weird to think that I can still be buried by these deep, dark thoughts that are suppressed all year long and only surface for a few weeks at a time.

I’ve been happy. So fricken happy. Yet here I am…stricken with sadness. Overwhelming sadness. But, it’s OK. It’s part of healing. It’s part of grief. I just have to endure this November. Just like I do every other year. I’ll be fine.

Let’s try to focus on the good stuff, OK? Today is also Alexandra’s 30th birthday! Let’s celebrate her instead of this grief that I’m feeling. There are treasures on this earth and in my life that are worth celebrating. Alexandra is one of them. I honestly, wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for her. It’s funny, I used to say the same thing about my grandmother.

Friends. Family. I need help. I challenge all of you to help me celebrate life instead of being dragged down by the passing of it. Will you help me channel my energy into the good things? The positive memories? The birthday celebrations? The laughter? The sunsets?

Thank you for reading. For sharing emotions and vulnerability with me. Thank you for listening. I truly believe sometimes all anyone needs is someone to listen to their story. Here’s a piece of mine. A very large piece of mine.

Celebrate. Life is fine!

-Joel

My #CSAM17 Story.

October is Careers in Student Affairs Month which means its the time of the year to focus on and celebrate all of the weirdos (like me) in the world who chose to pursue a career in Higher Education (more specifically, Student Affairs).

Like most people who wind up in this field, I stumbled into it unexpectedly while in college. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my future, but I loved every moment of college. I thrived in college!


I quickly became involved on campus my freshman year at Northern Michigan University, serving as the Vice President for my Residence Hall Council, joining different clubs and organizations on campus, and attending every event I possibly could.

After my great experiences in Hall Council, I knew I wanted to apply to be a Resident Adviser. The selection process was pretty intense and competitive, but I managed to survive…and was hired for a position my sophomore year. I worked as a RA in Meyland Hall for two years and had the best supervisor in the world – we’re still best friends today!

The summer before Junior year I was hired to be a New Student Orientation Staff Assistant and I spent that summer falling even more in love with Northern Michigan University.

Junior year I was a RA again and got super involved with the organization Marquette Ending Hunger! This group would soon become my Marquette Family and the “friends you meet in college that you will have forever”.

The summer before my Senior year was my second summer working with New Student Orientation and would be an even better summer than the first because it was my last summer in college and I lived up every moment!

Senior year I worked in the Center for Student Enrichment as a Coordinator for the Volunteer Center and the Superior Edge leadership program.


After four years of campus involvement and a growing passion for this work – and no clue what to do with my communications degree – I knew I had to go into Student Affairs.

I applied for graduate school, GA positions, and entry level full-time positions at universities across the nation. It was intense and scary, but I knew I was making the right decision.

I attended the Oshkosh Placement Exchange and interviewed with many institutions. I loved OPE – and found a GA position because of this great experience!

I was accepted into the Adult & Higher Education program at the University of South Dakota and was offered a graduate assistant position with Sorority & Fraternity Life.

While at USD, I was provided the opportunity to attend the NASPA regional conference in St. Louis and it was here that I became obsessed with professional conferences, networking with other Student Affairs professionals and deepened my love for this work.

Seeking even more work in this field, some time away from the Midwest and professional development opportunities, I applied for summer internships at other institutions through ACUHO-I. This search led me back to my housing roots when I was hired for a position with Residence Life and Conference Services at Western State Colorado University.

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In one month’s time, I gained more experience in this internship than I had the entire first year of grad school and when a position opened up in this department, I jumped at the chance to apply and stay in Colorado.


This all leads me to today. It is mid-October. I am laying in my hotel bed after just completing the ACPA Residential Curriculum Institute. I landed that open position that I applied for during my summer at Western and am still happy to be in Colorado! I am finishing my masters degree online through USD while working full-time!! It is a challenge, but is so worth it.


This is my story so far.

Here’s to writing more of it as I continue my way toward graduation and a bright future in this awesome field – with an even more awesome team!

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Residence Life staff
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My RAs and I
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Residence Life Professional Staff (minus Paul)
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Resident Directors

-Joel

*All photo credits: Western State Colorado University Social & Digital Media Coordinator, Taylor Cull.

*If you’re interested, I wrote a post last year for this same topic.

Gratitude.

Every Monday I receive email newsletters from Sinclair Caesar. This week’s was all about gratitude and feeling thankful. This email came at the perfect time. I’ve had a pretty tough time this week and have dealt with some pretty serious stuff on campus, but after reading this week’s email, I was reminded of how much I have to be grateful for. So, after doing some reflecting I wanted to share a few things that I am grateful for this week.

  1. Colorado. While I definitely miss some things from Michigan and South Dakota, I am happier here now than I’ve been in a long time. I love the mountains, this beautiful little community, and the home I’ve made here.
  2. My incredible Student Affairs team. I could never have gotten through this week without the support of my incredible RAs, RDs, and Residence Life staff. In fact, the whole Division of Student Affairs at Western has been nothing but supportive of me through everything since I arrived on campus in May. So, huge thank you to Shelley, Paul, Brenda, Jon, Ray, Hope, Sarah, Sammi, Amber, Kevin, Andrew, Seth, CJ, Gary and Chris for all that you do for me. Each one of you means so much to me already!
  3. Education. I have grown to love being an educator. I enjoy learning, and I love sharing knowledge with others through telling stories and exchanging meaningful conversation. I can’t wait to complete my masters degree this spring and I can’t wait to see where it leads me in the future.
  4. Opportunity. I am just 23 years old. I am a full-time professional (in a job that I love). I am educated (and will have two degrees in April). At such a young age, I have so much. I truthfully can’t complain, because the world has been good to me and I have so much to be grateful for.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say thank you to the universe for giving me so much and to those who have gotten me to the place that I stand today.

I just wanted to give a friendly reminder to be grateful today.

In a time that was so tough for me, I know I have it so easy compared to the stuff the rest of the world is battling right now.

Thanks for sharing this humbling moment with me.

With love to you all,

-Joel

Conversity.

Hello & welcome back to The Adventures of Joel!

It’s been a while…I’ve been terribly busy. I have been in RD training/RA training/Orientation/Welcome week/Move-in mode and it has taken up every ounce of my time and energy. I have loved every second of it, but it’s been a lot more than I ever imagined.

Anywho, with all of that behind me, hopefully I will have more time to do things for myself, things that I love – like writing!


It’s Friday of the first week of classes at Western, and I couldn’t be happier to be wrapping up our first week. I couldn’t be more proud of my RA team and the work that they’ve done to prepare for this week. They’ve been building really strong communities already – it’s only day five! I am so excited to get to know the residents of my buildings and I’m thrilled to watch them pursue their interests and passions in education.

I am also excited to be starting my second year as a #SAGrad! I honestly can’t wait to have my Masters degree. I haven’t thought a ton about this until recently, but being less than a year away from my second degree is super exciting. Overcoming so many barriers to education and fighting my way to something that I never thought possible is something that I am super proud of!

This semester, not only am I working full-time, but I am enrolled in six credits. I know it will be a lot of work, but I am determined and disciplined enough to make it happen.

I am especially intrigued by one of my classes this semester. This class explores the trends and issues in training and development. As a new professional, first-time supervisor and RD leading our training and development committee, this class is incredibly relevant. I’m also stoked that this class has a pretty significant emphasis on diversity.

In my introduction assignment, the professor introduced the concept of Conversity: Similarities that bring us together. I had only heard of this concept once before, but I am obsessed with the idea behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I love diversity, equity, and inclusion, and understand the importance of them in the field of Higher Education, but I adore the idea of finding the commonalities among us.

I feel that so often we focus on the differences among us. Diversity has become a buzzword, and instead of using our differences to find our unique qualities and traits, we use them as immediate barriers and separators. Instead of celebrating those differences, they set us apart even further.

So, I am challenged by this new idea of finding the similarities between me and each of my students, me and my coworkers. I want to focus on conversity rather than diversity. I want to think about the commonalities instead of the differences. Again, it is important to celebrate our differences – I am not discrediting that – but I want to actively seek out our similarities.

I believe in this concept. I think that it’s rooted in love and understanding. I think that it aims us toward community. By seeking out similarities we find sacred ground, a place of togetherness, a connection. Isn’t that what community and love and equity is all about?

Instead of counting the number of differences we have, or focusing on the traits that separate us, let’s count the amount of similarities. Let’s share the things that we have in common with others. Let’s recognize that inherently and fundamentally we are all so much more alike than we are different.


Moving forward with this class and with this semester, I hope to incorporate more of what I am learning into my daily actions as a supervisor and as a Resident Director. I strive to build a strong community and I strive to be a supervisor that includes my team on important decisions. I hope that conversity will bring my residents, RAs and community together and will be a focus point for learning and conversation this year.

I’d love to hear what others think about this concept. Feel free to reach out! It’s new to me, so I’d love to learn more.

Love you all!

-Joel

A Quick Note About Running

A very good friend and mentor of mine posted an angry rant on Facebook tonight about how she was followed by a group of teenage boys while out on her run tonight. They circled her four times while catcalling, whistling and shouting at her. She felt unsafe running near her home, in a city that is incredibly safe – the place I consider home.

I am genuinely pissed off by this act. As a runner, I understand the mental stamina that it takes to get out and run when we are already doing a million and one other exhausting and mundane daily tasks. The act of running is daunting which is what makes running so special.

The running community runs to escape the noise of the world around us, to push ourselves for improvement, to be alone, to enjoy the natural world around us, to maintain physical health, and so many other reasons…but that is stripped of us when we experience actions like this from others.

I have heard many of my runner friends – particularly those that identify as female – complain that they have felt unsafe or uneasy while out for a run because they have been followed, catcalled and shouted at. Rather than getting the needed escape from their run they are made to feel small, scared, and uncomfortable. This is so freaking upsetting.

One of the only activities that makes me feel alive, alone, connected and energized is running, and knowing that my runner friends don’t get this same feeling is something that trips me up and makes me think about this crazy world that we live in.

Why does this happen? Why are men so awful toward women? When did it become unacceptable for female – and male – runners to run in short shorts, no shirt/sports bra? How would you like it if I came to your living room, football game, or other place of solace and shouted, whistled and catcalled at you while you were trying to find your peace? Because that’s essentially what is happening here.

You don’t hear of other athletes feeling uncomfortable in their spheres of practice or performance…so why is running the targeted sport?

Is it because we often do it as individuals? Because, that again is what makes running so cool. We do it on our own, at our own pace and whenever and wherever we want. We’re on our own time and we are being pushed only by ourselves to do better.

Is it because we wear little to no clothing? Because, if that’s the case this gets into a whole different issue. The world hears so often “she was wearing revealing clothing. She wanted it.” from the mouths of alleged rapists, but its the same damn thing when you’re catcalling a runner.

Just because we wear short shorts does not mean we are asking to be looked at…in fact, please don’t look at us…quite often we have snot dripping down our face, spit on our shirts, sweat dripping from every possible inch of our body. We look like we’re dying. We’re gross. I mean come on, running is like the least beautiful and graceful sport out there.

So, I guess what I’m sharing in this post is that the running community needs to have each other’s backs, uplift each other, and support our running endeavors. To those of you that aren’t runners, please stay away from us while we’re running. To the young men in this world…grow the hell up. Be a gentleman, learn some manners, and respect the ladies – and other gentlemen – out there…because you know what they say about Karma. To Sarah – and all of my other runner friends – don’t let this hold you back from running. Stay strong, stay driven, maintain heart, and keep taking those photos and reporting behaviors like this to the police.

Help keep our running community safe and healthy please!

Run happy!

-Joel