Philanthropy.

I’ve discovered that one of my favorite things about working for Sorority and Fraternity Life is the endless opportunities provided to support my students in pursuing their passions. Perhaps the best way that I can do this is by attending philanthropy events hosted by each chapter or auxiliary group. I am able to combine my own interests in community service/giving back and student development in one great event. Boom! Double Whammy!

Whether I am running a 5k, or filling my face at a pasta, burrito, or chili feed, I am always willing to pay a small price and to give back to something great all while seeing my students work towards something they love.

Because each national fraternity and sorority chapter is affiliated with a national philanthropy organization and USD has 12 national chapters on campus, there is an abundance of opportunity for me to support my students and support something larger than myself.

This weekend, one of our sorority chapters (Alpha Xi Delta) held a 5k run in support of their national philanthropy organization, Autism Speaks. My immediate thought was what a great event! I get to combine my passion for running with my passion for supporting my students and this amazing organization. Of course I am going to be there. This run, unfortunately, was held the day after St. Patrick’s Day-If you work on a college campus, have ever been to college, or have seen any Hollywood movie, you know that college kids celebrate every single holiday in proper alcoholic fashion-and I did not foresee it having a large attendance, which made me want to go even more.

I showed up early the morning of the event with my good friend, Lucy, paid our student fee-$15 all going to Autism Speaks. Very reasonable, even on a grad student budget-and waited for more people to show. To my surprise, at the start of the run, there were quite a few participants lined up and ready to go. I was loving this.

The race came and went…and dragged on for some (hungover) participants…but everyone was very positive about it. I mean how can you not be positive about philanthropy? Joining together to support an amazing cause-whether over a run or food or something else entirely-is magical, and we as a Greek community do it ALL THE TIME.

I have been attending chapter philanthropy events all year long, and it took this one event to make me realize the importance of fraternal organizations and their partnerships with national philanthropies. Service and brotherhood/sisterhood are just two of the values that many Greek organizations are founded on, and at every single philanthropy event hosted each academic year these values are displayed. How freaking cool is that?

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me (the 5k winner) and the lovely ladies of Alpha Xi Delta at the finish line

It is my hope that each student sees the importance of their role in philanthropy and that they’re not just doing it because it’s another event hosted by their fraternity or sorority chapter. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but I hope that each and every chapter member is impacted by their experience with service, and that they carry it with them forever-and perhaps even more importantly, share it with others.

I am excited to finish out the year and to continue supporting each chapter and their mission to give back to the community and to their national philanthropies. I’m ending the year with high hopes for the things to come.

In love and service,

-Joel

Values.

My favorite quote reads: “The very basic core of man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun” -Christopher McCandless


This quote comes from one of my favorite books, Into the Wild, by John Krakauer. I guess I love this quote because I feel that it speaks to my soul. It resonates deep within me. I am infatuated with the willingness and ability of McCandless to just leave it all behind, walk away, and live the life he imagined for himself. He had a mission, a purpose, and values that didn’t align with the lifestyle that he was living, so he changed his course. While this decision cost him his life, he lived with intent. He lived a life of value.

I am envious of Christopher’s freedom. I aspire to be brave enough someday to walk away from the meaninglessness of this life and to live only with passion. It’s why I am so attracted to the minimalist lifestyle. I want to find value in everything I do, each relationship I build, and all material possessions. McCandless was able to strip himself of all things that did not add value to his life. That is so amazing to me.


Since making my move to Vermillion, starting graduate school, and working in Sorority and Fraternity Life, I have discovered the importance of living a values-based lifestyle and what it means for me and the community in which I am part of.

Knowing who I am at my core, what values I stand for and believe in, and integrating this into practice daily is an important part of my minimalist lifestyle and holistic wellbeing.


I host a leadership series on campus as part of my graduate assistantship. Tonight I presented on values-based leadership and values-based living. Three of the core values that I live by are adventure, authenticity, and connection.

I value risk-taking, trying new things, and experiencing diversity. I live for genuinely cultivated relationships, and intentionality. I feel spiritually connected to the people, places, and things that I encounter. I value these connections and the mark they leave on my life.

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One of the things that I love most about working for Sorority and Fraternity Life is the values-based component of this community. Each chapter has different values that they instill in their members. Each member works to practice these values daily. The global Greek community values leadership, service, and brother/sisterhood. I appreciate this lifelong devotion and commitment to values-based leadership.

When I took this position, I didn’t know anything about fraternal organizations or their values and missions. I am still no expert, but what I do know is that I am a lifelong learner and am so excited to continue digging into my core and living out my values as I work with this amazing community of young men and women.

I look forward to exploring more of what it means to live a values-based life, and to be a values-based leader. I look forward to learning more about the values of Sorority and Fraternity Life, and the students that I advise.


As you go from reading this post to whatever else you were doing, reflect on what it is that you’re passionate about, who you look up to, and why. What are your core values? Are you living them daily?

Think about it. What changes are you going to make?

Big love,

-Joel

Gentlemen.

If you go to the University of South Dakota, are an alumni, or know someone who has ever attended school  here, you probably have heard something about the Strollers show.

It’s my first year as a graduate student at USD, and I have been hearing about Strollers since before my arrival, but I haven’t understood it until now.  It is just one of those things that you have to see to totally grasp the concept of it.  I am going to try my best to explain it for the sake of this post.

Strollers show in a nutshell: a performance based comedy show that is hosted by one of the oldest student organizations on campus, Strollers.  The Strollers do small comedy bits in between shows, but the majority of the show is made up of acts that are presented by the sorority and fraternity chapters on campus.  The 12 chapters are split into four teams consisting of two fraternity chapters and one sorority chapter each.  Each team’s cast chooses a theme for the performance and works for months to build a set, choreograph a performance, write scripts, and practice their act.  The competition is the biggest weekend of the year for some of our students and the energy on campus is so high.  It’s wild.


OK, so now that outsiders sort of understand what Strollers is, I can share a few more thoughts with you from an outsider perspective.

Everyone is drunk or in some way intoxicated-while this is the biggest night of the year, it is also a very high risk weekend for our students.  People are excited.  The casts are passionate and invested in this performance because they have spent months perfecting it.  Friends and family pack the auditorium.  Fraternity and sorority members come in waves to support their brothers and sisters.  Honestly, it’s a truly fascinating event.


Strollers is meant to be a fun and friendly competition.  It is built to create community on campus between multiple student organizations and the greater student body as a whole.  It is designed to build unity and to bring members of different Greek chapters together.

Ultimately it does all of those things, and as a chapter adviser, that is really really cool to see.  It is amazing to see so many of my students passionate and invested in something that they’ve worked so hard to create.  It is great to watch them work together on stage in front of hundreds of their peers.  Honestly, I was impressed.  I am impressed.  I am proud of each and every one the students who put themselves out there last night, and were brave enough to perform and to work to build community on our campus.  But, I am even more proud of something else that happened during the show.


While the show is supposed to create unity and bring people together, the excessive drinking and emotional states of our students isn’t the best environment for doing that-especially when we are all crammed into an auditorium.  Some students get out of hand and University Police is on site, because they know how big this night is for students and how wild it can be.

I watched students get escorted out of the auditorium.  I watched a girl fall down the stairs.  I watched multiple people trip or stumble through the dimly lit room.  And I watched a student throw punches at a few other students.  I was so proud to see that the two students that this guy threw punches at were very mature about the situation.  From where I was sitting, it didn’t look like they initiated any sort of dispute, or retaliation of any kind.  They told the other guys friends to get him away from them and they left the area where I was sitting.  They didn’t throw punches back, they didn’t scream or yell or get overly upset.  They handled it maturely.

This is the behavior that we should see at an event like this.  Not punches being thrown or vulgarities being screamed.  This is the reputation that fraternity men should have, not the reputation of party animals, hazers, rapists, and scum.  They are gentlemen.  Some of the finest gentlemen that I have met are fraternity men on this campus.

I was so proud of these students for being the bigger person in this situation.  They were smart, kind, and handled things correctly.  This is the kind of student that I like to work with, and this is the growth, maturity, and development that I love to see in my students.  I am sad that it came out of poor circumstances and at a public event like this, but I am proud of these young men, nonetheless.


I guess, I am just giving a shoutout to those two brave students for their actions.  They didn’t go unseen.  Continue being leaders on this campus and in this community.  Continue portraying masculinity and maturity in positive ways such as this.  Continue being true gentlemen.

-Joel

Student Affairs: #CSAM16 And How I Found Myself On This Path.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of Student Affairs and Higher Education, October is Careers in Student Affairs Month.  NASPA does a Photo A Day Challenge on social media and has a prompt each day that encourages people in our field to share their experiences.  Today’s prompt is My Story.  I think this is by far the most fun prompt of the month because it is so cool to hear why each individual ended up pursuing a career in Student Affairs and how they got there.  I thought it would be cool to share mine.

My story starts at the beginning with the college application process.  As a #FirstGen student I really didn’t know what I was doing and my parents didn’t have the experience or the knowledge to help me out either.  They did the best that they could.  Having helped my older brother three years earlier, they did have some basic knowledge, but we still were going into my college admission process pretty blind.  We were definitely winging it.

At this time I didn’t even really know what it meant to be #FirstGen.  Now, I am wildly proud to identify as #FirstGen.

As a senior in high school I was so ready to graduate.  I was ready to leave my small town and go as far away as possible.  But I still didn’t know where I wanted to go to school.  I have never been a good decision maker, and this choice seemed like the biggest decision ever.  Where would I go to school?  What would I study?  I had no idea.  I felt lost.

Looking back, I laugh.  I laugh at how incredibly stressed out about this decision I was.  Looking back, I find it hilarious that I even looked at other institutions.  I went to my dream school and I know without a doubt that I made the right choice.  Looking back, I laugh because I think deep down, I knew all along that I was going to Northern Michigan University.  Deep down, there was no question of why or where.  I just knew that that was home.  Looking back, I see this scared and confused 18 year old Joel who couldn’t make a decision even though the answer was right in front of me.  I just didn’t want to admit it to anyone and I didn’t know how.  I was scared to admit it because that meant that it was really happening.  And, while I was so excited, I was also REALLY nervous.

After what seemed like the longest summer of my life, the time finally came!  I was moving away to college.  I moved in at 8am Thursday morning.  The first day of move-in weekend.  If that doesn’t tell you how excited I was to be there, I don’t know what will.

My freshman year was amazing.  Right away I found a close group of friends with those that lived around me in my residence hall.  We were all active in our House and Hall governments and I quickly became involved in other areas of campus life.  I loved trying new things and exploring the different involvement opportunities on campus.  Toward the end of my freshman year, I applied to be a Resident Adviser, after having a great relationship with mine, and wanting to be able to reach students the way that she had reached me.

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I received an offer from Alexandra Marshall, the Resident Director of Meyland Hall.  I accepted, and spent Sophomore and Junior year living the wild and crazy and rewarding life working for Housing and Residence Life.

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During these two years, I grew more than I can even express.  I learned so much from that position and my interactions with my students and staff on campus.  I dealt with a lot of crazy situations.  I had a lot of fun throwing really cool events and getting to know those living in my community.  I formed friendships and relationships with some of my closest friends and mentors during those two years.  But what I loved most wasn’t what I got out of the job, but the immense growth and changes that I saw in my students.  I fell in love with student development and watching impacts that learning and living had on others.

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Wanting more experience in this work, and craving access to more students, I applied to work for the New Student Orientation Staff at the end of my sophomore year.  I was offered a position as Staff Assistant and spent that summer learning more about my campus, and the city of Marquette, than I thought was possible.  I fell even deeper in love with both the city and the campus communities, and my passion for watching students develop and grow was sparked into a flame.

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After having the best summer of my life, I went back to school for Junior year and was excited to work with my students again.  But I was also excited for the incoming students that I spent all summer getting to know to come back too.  I hoped and prayed that I would have some of these students living in my community so I could work with them as their Resident Adviser too.

Junior year was a blur.  I had a lot of ups and downs that year.  I had even stronger connections with my students and I dealt with more serious issues.  I was balancing a harder class load, and trying to maintain friendships with my friends outside of Housing and Residence Life.  It was a really tough year, but ultimately I think it was the year that instilled in me the strength that I needed to move on.

I decided to leave the RA position at the end of the year, but was excited to end the year on a positive note when I was awarded the Paraprofessional of the Year Award.

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This fueled me with the excitement needed to spend a second summer on New Student Orientation Staff.  This summer I was the only senior returning to staff and I held a leadership role because of this.  My staff looked up to me, my Director who was just starting at the university looked to me for guidance and extra support.  I had the time of my life my second summer on staff and I built a family with my staff.  I had a bond with these people unlike that of any group of people ever before.  This summer was different though.  While I really felt like I had a great connection with my staff, I felt disconnected from students this summer.  I felt like being a senior, I could no longer relate to them the way that I had as a junior.  In one year’s time, something had changed, and I felt this distance separating me from the connections that I wanted to build with my students.  I did what I could to push through this feeling, and I did end up having some really great relationships with students.  I still got a sense of fulfillment when I saw a student overcome something or take a step out of their comfort zone.  The growth that I saw in these students continued to be what I loved most about these jobs.

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My senior year I lived off campus with three other guys.  This was the first time living outside of the residence halls.  I grew a lot from my experience living off campus.  While I loved the freedom and the kitchen, I also missed the convenience of the residence halls, and that intimate setting with my students.  I still had connections and interactions with students through my job at the Center for Student Enrichment working as a Superior Edge Volunteer Center Coordinator, but it was in a different capacity from my previous experiences.  During this year, I found a love for volunteer work, and community service.  I organized a service exchange with some students from Saginaw Valley State University, and met some of my closest friends today through this service work.

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Seeing the passion of other students and communities and seeing a need outside of Marquette gave me a new perspective and got me thinking even more about a future in Student Affairs.

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Somewhere along the way-I think maybe, my sophomore year-I met up with the wonderful individuals that were part of Marquette Ending Hunger.  This was a student organization that worked to raise awareness of poverty, food insecurity, and hunger in our area.  I loved being part of this group and it was the single most rewarding experience of my college career that was not tied to a job that I held working for the university.  I loved serving others, raising awareness and educating others.  I loved working in the community and hosting fun events like Empty Bowls and NMU Fights Famine in which I fasted for 24 hours in order to feel the struggle that many people around the world feel every day.

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I graduated from Northern Michigan University with my Bachelors of Science in Communication Studies on April 30, 2016.  I loved every second of my time at NMU and I will forever cherish these memories.  It was because of my experiences with Student Affairs that I decided that I wanted to continue my education and pursue a career in this field.

This brings me to today.  I am a first year #SAGrad at the University of South Dakota.  When searching for grad schools I wanted to go somewhere out of state, somewhere that I didn’t know much about, and I wanted to work in an entry level full time position or in a graduate assistantship.  I found that all in one package with USD, and I was able to do so through the Oshkosh Placement Exchange, and the support of my friends that went with me.

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I now work for the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life.  I live in a chapter house as a 22 year old with no Greek experience.  I am pursuing a Masters degree in Adult and Higher Education.  I am so far out of my comfort zone, but I am learning and growing everyday.

My love for student growth and development is as strong as ever.  I love getting to know the men  of Lambda Chi Alpha as well as the other students that are part of the SFL community.  I am realizing that there are so many options out there and so much to do in the field of Student Affairs.  It’s wild, crazy, fun, exhausting, stressful, rewarding, and fulfilling all at the same time.

I am excited to see what my future holds and where the wild world of Student Affairs will lead me.  But I am so in love with where I am.  I am realizing that I may not be here forever, and I may not even pursue Student Affairs forever, but right now, it’s where I am supposed to be.

There ya have it pals, my story up to date.  And as Natasha Bedingfield once said: “The rest is still unwritten”.

-Joel

Wellbeing.

Wellness has always been an important aspect of my life, but I never truly made it a priority or thought about how much work I had to put into my personal wellness until recently.  I have always been very active and fit.  As a runner, my physical wellbeing was always the thing that came to mind when thinking about wellness.  I have the stamina and endurance to run long distances and the heart to get out of bed every morning and start my day with a run.  I always feel better after a run than when I start.

For a long time, my definition of wellness was simply running and maintaining an active lifestyle.

In high school I had abs, strong legs, and a passion for running.  I thought that this was all I needed-that and carbs.  When it came to eating healthy, I would say that as a runner, I needed to eat healthy in order to provide my body the energy needed to run the distances that I do.  So that is (sort of) what I did.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m a clean eater and that I don’t enjoy splurging on sweets.  Ice cream is my weakness and I definitely eat my fair share of processed foods, but recently my main diet consists of fruits and veggies.  And a lot of carbohydrate rich foods like pasta and bread.  This was essentially my wellness lifestyle.

Fast-forward to today.  I am a first year #SAGrad and my definition of wellness has completely changed.  I still maintain my physical wellbeing and I still love to run and eat healthy.  I still eat ice cream and carbs.  But now, today, my concept of wellbeing expands so much deeper than my physical wellness and how fit I am.  I evaluate every part of my wellbeing in my daily life (as of recently).

My staff was gifted the book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath as a welcome to our job from our supervisor.  As a staff we are reading this in book club style and discussing our wellbeing in staff meetings weekly.  I love it!

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This book walks us through career, social, financial, physical, and community wellbeing (the five elements of wellbeing according to Tom Rath).  I love evaluating my daily wellness in each of these categories and taking the time each day to consciously focus on each element.

Here is a quick breakdown of the five elements of my own personal wellbeing:

As grad students it is so common to think about our career wellbeing because for many of us we have two short years to think about where we want to be after graduation.  I think about this daily.  I am finally taking classes that I enjoy and I am finally excited to learn and to do the assigned reading.  I know that Student Affairs is where I am meant to be and I am using this year as a way to continue growing in career wellness.

Social wellbeing is also a huge aspect of our wellbeing as grad students.  How do we have fun socially?  Who do we want to spend our time with?  Are these connections and relationships meaningful?  This is the big one for me right now.  I moved to a new state, university, and community where I knew no one.  Being a Woo, I love the challenge of meeting new people, but something is different about making friends in grad school in comparison to undergrad.  I am now a university staff member.  I am an advisor of a fraternity and a few student groups.  I have two years to make connections with people rather than four.  This is proving to be difficult but I have also noticed that it is good for me.  I have found that I love being alone and that I need to take time for myself.  I have put effort into meaningful relationships with the few friends that I’ve made so far, and I no longer spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with.  I am learning to say no.  I am excited to see how my social wellbeing evolves throughout the year.

Financial wellbeing.  Need I say more?  As a college student-especially as a graduate student-I fully understand that I am not financially well.  I am constantly worrying about money.  I have never been one to worry about money.  In fact, I hate that money dictates so much of my life already this year.  But I know that I must be frugal and thrifty as a grad student so I can prepare myself for my future after.  I have bills to pay and loans that accrue interest every second, and I always think about this.  It’s a work in progress, but one of my goals for this year is to get better at budgeting.  Wish me luck!

I mentioned physical wellbeing at the beginning of my post, but to recap, I am a lover of the outdoors.  I am a runner and an avid hiker.  These things keep me active and fit.  I have started practicing yoga and stretching more, and I have been focusing on the foods that I eat.  I have cut back on my coffee intake and increased my smoothie consumption as well as switching from my beloved Clif Bars to a healthier alternative, Lara Bars.  I hope to continue working on my physical wellbeing this year, and I am sure you will all hear about it in future posts.

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Lastly community wellbeing has been the hardest adjustment for me since starting grad school.  Moving to a new state, city, and community is tough.  I never thought it would be so hard.  I have felt more alone since coming here than ever before.  I don’t have my close friends and family right next to me anymore.  I don’t walk through campus and know every single person that I pass.  No joke, this was actually my life for the past four years.  I have been jumping at opportunities to meet people and to feel like a part of this community and I know that as the year progresses, it will get easier.  I have attended community and campus events and my job has definitely helped me in finding a strong network among my peers and staff members.  I am excited to see where this adventure leads me this year.

And something that I have learned already in my few short weeks of being here is the importance of self care.  Take time to do something you love every day.  Take time for yourself.  Run, hike, yoga, meditate, read, craft/build, write.  Whatever it may be…take care of yourself and allow yourself to be immersed in what you love in order to rejuvenate each day.IMG_6326

As you can see, my thoughts on wellness have changed in the last few weeks and I am excited to continue working on being a holistically well human being.  I want to thrive in my wellness and I know that grad school is the perfect time to start working on this.  How am I supposed to encourage wellness among the students I work with if I myself am not well?

Take care friends,

-Joel

Tools For Success As A #SAGrad.

I am just two weeks into my first year as a #SAGrad and I already have a list of things that I believe all #SAGrads should know coming into this experience.  I am sure that as the year progresses I will have things to add to this list, but right now here are a few things that I think every #SAGrad should become familiar with.


Microsoft Excel.

I have only recently been a computer user.  By recently, I mean since being a college student.  Yes, I know, I am a millennial and my generation grew up with computers…but that does not mean that I am tech savvy or great with computers.  I know how to type a paper, Google “Computers for Dummies”, Tweet, and send an email.  That is about it.

Since starting my position as a Fraternity Graduate Assistant, I have used Excel more than ever before (which isn’t hard because I can count that on one hand).  We use this program to track our Sorority and Fraternity members for Recruitment events, mandatory trainings, and departmental programs.  Excel helps us to assess attendance and keep all of our data all in one place.

I’ve been provided a quick crash course in Excel by my coworkers and supervisor and have been learning how to use it as I go along.  However, I still look at it and all I see is a never ending grid.

I still don’t know how to sort and label things or how any of the shortcuts and functions work.  I am not sure if other offices around campus or at other institutions use Microsoft Excel, but I know that it is something that I will be using a lot in the next two years.  I hope to become more familiar with it, but I wish I would have known how to use this program before diving into this position.  I feel like I am not contributing as much as my coworkers and I am letting my team down.  So do yourself a favor, and learn the basics before you start grad school so that you can shine at the office.

Calendar & Email Merge.

I know you’re all reading this and thinking “Joel, we all know how to use those things.  That’s easy”.  Having a calendar and actually using it are two different things.  Knowing how to use a calendar in an organized manner is an entirely separate issue.  Writing everything down and scheduling time to eat, sleep, and exercise are things that are often forgotten.  Seriously, organizing every minute of your day is so important as a graduate student.  If you are balancing a full class load, work, social life, and time for self care, you must schedule all of those things out.  If it’s not scheduled it will not get done.  I know.  It has happened to me for the last two weeks.  Because of that, I am now making this change in my own scheduling and organizational strategies.  I have now budgeted time for exercise and time for myself.

As for the Email portion of this bullet, I think that it’s pretty straight forward.  Know how to craft a professional email and how to create a signature that looks good.  You will send and receive thousands of emails as a #SAGrad.  You don’t want to be the one that sends the email to your professor at 2am saying “Yo Prof!  What’s good?”.  Leave that in your undergrad.  Know how to write out a proper subject line, who to address your email to and what their name is (and spell it correctly), and how to sign off at the end of an email.

Be straight and to the point in the body of your email.  Ask your question or share your comment in a way that your reader will understand it.  Leave out unnecessary information or questions.  And always be professional.  Never use emoji’s or chat lingo.  That will get you nowhere.

OK, I think you get it.  If you are going into Student Affairs, I am sure you already know all of this.  So onto the point that I actually want to make about calendars and email.

My supervisor this year has shown me how to create calendar invites and to link your calendar with your email.  I love it!

Have a meeting with your supervisor?  Set the time and date.  Is it a reoccurring event?  Set the parameters of the event and send the invite to your supervisor.  They receive the invite via email, accept it, and your calendar is now filled.  You’re good to go for the rest of the semester.

Whether you use Outlook, Google Calendar, your IPhone calendar or another app.  Find a calendar/mail merger and use it!

FullSizeRender (1)To Do Lists.

Ok, you have your calendar.  You have your email.  You know how to use Microsoft Excel.  You’re on your way to becoming an organized super genius.  But is everything getting done?  Check off the things you’ve done.  Whether you write everything in your calendar and cross it off as you go, you use an app like Wunderlist or Trello, or you have Post It notes scattered across your desk, you need to know what you need to do and the tasks you’ve accomplished already.  My staff uses Trello.  I am still getting the hang of it, but I do like it.  Fellow #SAGrad and blogger Amanda Koslow uses Wunderlist and she RAVES about it.  Both are great tools.  I use both Trello and Wunderlist on my phone.  Whatever your style, find something that works for you, and stick to it.  Build a list, cross items off, and be efficient and productive.

Social Media.

Yes, I know I sound cliché right now.  But I am being serious.  The students that we work with are all connected to technology.  They know it better than we do.  They will be teaching us the ropes and we will be learning from them.  But we must be willing to do so.  We also need to meet them where they are.  We are not going to be the effective #SAPros that we could be if we don’t have some sort of social media presence.  Universities are quickly learning that they must use social media to connect with their students.  The same goes for us as professionals.  Does this mean we have to like, friend, follow, snap, and poke all of our students all the time?  No.  Not at all.  Please don’t, actually.  But by knowing how to use these platforms, and the tools and applications that each offers is important to working with our students and reaching them and their needs.

In addition to our students, networking with other professionals, keeping up with organizations that we are involved with, and staying up to date with current events is so easy and convenient with social media, and we all know how vital this is to our field!

PowerPoint, Prezi (or another presentation platform).

We as #SAPros will definitely have to give a presentation at some time in our career.  Whether it is for class, our job, or another reason entirely.  It is better to familiarize ourselves with these platforms before it’s presentation time.  Why not start now?

I am giving a presentation next week on Time Management and Goal Setting for my university’s Leadership Seminar Series.  I have been putting together notes and working on my PowerPoint presentation so that it is attractive and fun.  I want my students to be interactive with my presentation.  I want them to be engaged.

I got my bachelors degree in Communication Studies, so I may or may not go a little above and beyond when it comes to presentations and engaging with an audience…but that doesn’t mean that everyone in my position does.  You don’t have to have a flashy presentation or be the world’s best public speaker, but you should know some basic functions of presentation platforms.  So start playing around with them now.


I know this list is pretty basic, and I am sure many of you are way more prepared than I am.  These are just a few of the things that I’ve found helpful in my first two weeks of struggle.  If you have any tips or tricks for any of these tools, or have a different tool you think #SAGrads should know how to use, please reach out to me and comment below.

-Joel

Settle Down It’ll All Be Clear.

I have been in Vermillion for just over two weeks now.  During this time I have been able to fully move into my place, explore Vermillion and USD, and meet a few people.  I have started my position as a Fraternity Graduate Assistant and have completed training.  I can’t wait for students to arrive back on campus and for classes to start.

I have been so nervous with all of the beginnings and the new challenges that I am about to face this year so I just wanted to take the time to share a few things that I have done to make myself familiar with my new home.

Get a library card

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I love libraries.  I love books.  I love reading.  I am excited to be in a new city because that means that I have one more library to check books out from.  I really love that libraries use eBooks these days because no matter how far away from them I live I can still check out books.  One of the first things I did upon my arrival in Vermillion was make a visit to the library to browse around, check out a book, and get a library card-because lets just talk about how magical library cards are!

Current read is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Go for a run or a hike

Other than Higher Education, running and hiking are two other things that I am truly passionate about.  So when it comes to moving to a new city, what greater way to get to know a place than by running through it or finding a hiking path?

Find a coffee shop to frequent

I love coffee and company, so a small coffee shop is vital to my living situations.  Good thing Vermillion has one that suits my every need.  Café Brule is a cute little specialty coffee shop, full service restaurant, bakery, and even has a long list of wine and beer to choose from.  If you don’t enjoy something from Café Brule, you are doing something horribly wrong with your life.  I have already spent too much time and money here, and I know that it will soon become a staple in my weekly routine.  Another plus to Café Brule is that they accept money from my meal plan!

Attend a community event

Getting involved in the city in which you live is one way to feel truly connected to it.  I love small college towns because quite often the city and campus communities are close-knit and allow for many opportunities to get involved in both.  Here in Vermillion, the young professionals network, Vermillion Next, works hard to provide fun and cheap entertainment for our community members.

The first event that I attended in town is a bi-weekly summer event called Thursdays On The Platz.  There is live music, free entertainment, food catered by local businesses, and beer and wine sampling.  It is a great way to meet people in town and is a fun atmosphere to be a part of.

Check out the local Farmers Market

I am a huge supporter of shopping local.  I love knowing that my food or gifts are coming from just up the street and I love building relationships with the people who are making the items I use regularly.  Most towns have some sort of farmers market, and Vermillion is no different.  I stopped by on Saturday and picked up a few amazing items!

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My first purchase was this local honey.  Moving to a new place, living in an old, dirty house, and adjusting to a new schedule does not make for the greatest equation in terms of allergies.  Some of this honey should do the trick in slowing down my allergies.

I couldn’t resist this little succulent in a coffee mug either.  I mean, how cute is it?  And, let’s just be honest…Did anyone think I was going to pass up cold brew?  Nope.  The Bean is a new start up company in Vermillion.  Right now they don’t have a location, but are selling at local events such as the Farmers Market and Thursdays On The Platz.  They sell cold brew coffee and home brewed iced tea.  I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this amazing new business and I can’t wait to get my next batch of homemade goodness.

Relax.

Yes, amid exploring, work and getting myself comfortable in this strange new place, I have found the time to relax and breathe and do something for myself.  I think that while it is so important to get acquainted with your new home and to get involved and meet people, you also have to make sure that you are ok with all of this new stress.  Taking time for myself, making phone calls to friends/family back home, reading, and watching the Olympics have been ways for me to rewind and relax during all of this excitement.  I just have to remind myself that I may still feel lost and confused at times, but it will all be clear soon enough.  I just have to be patient and absorb everything as I go.

Wish me luck as I dive into Sorority and Fraternity Recruitment in the coming weeks!

-Joel