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

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.

Making Waves.

My life mantra is “make waves” because I seek to live every day as the water does, ebbing and flowing, trying new things, being changed by the environment and giving back to the community around me.

In the last year, this mantra has become so important to me. I remind myself to live intentionally every day and to make waves in the lives around me, but also to allow my surroundings to make waves in my life as well. Living this way allows for growth, opportunity, spontaneity, and a lot of fun; it’s how I have found myself in so many new and exciting situations and places in the last year. I have made so many new friends, and gone to so many cool places and I hope to continue to do so…

Which brings me to this: I will be moving to Colorado!!!

I have spent the last two months in Gunnison, Colorado and have been serving as an intern at Western State Colorado University. This position has provided me so much experience as a professional. I have moved to a new location. I am working on a new campus. I am adapting to a new culture and community. I am supervising student employees. I am having a blast.

Working in this position has also provided me the opportunity to land a full-time professional position in the same department. That’s right, you heard me, I have landed my first #SAPro position as a Resident Director. I will be managing two buildings during the school year and will be coordinating housing arrangements for camps and conferences during the summer months. What a great opportunity!?

By jumping out of my comfort zone and trying new things, allowing my world to be changed by my environment, and focusing on building relationships and community in all that I do I have made waves here in this small community and it has made waves in my life in turn. I have stirred things up, brought something new, learned so much and am excited to keep doing this work.

I guess it pays to work hard and push through the seasons of life. Sometimes life comes crashing down and sometimes it’s a smooth sea, but if you don’t make a little waves in that smooth sea, nothing changes, and what is the fun in that?

I have only been in Sunny Gunni for two short months, but it has been two of the greatest months of my life. I truly believe this is a “right place at the right time” situation. I was meant to be here for my internship. I was meant to come to this campus. Western is a great fit for me and I am thrilled that my first professional position will be here in the Rocky Mountains where I will be working alongside an amazing team of professionals who will challenge and support me every day.

I’ll post updates as I know more information about my move and what this new role will be like. Stay tuned.

-Joel

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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