25 Before 25: Graduate with my Master’s Degree

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I would like to say that I am now a Master of Education in Psychology with a concentration in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education. As of Saturday, May 16th, I am officially done with my graduate program at Springfield College.

Graduation day started super early. I had to be at school around 8:30 in the morning and since it’s an hour away, we had to be up and ready and on the road by 7:15/7:30 am. The drive was cool cause I was with my boyfriend who came up from DC and one of my brothers. It was their first time meeting so they talked the whole ride up.

I also received two texts that made me cry. They were both from two girls that I consider like my little sisters. They both mentioned how I have been an inspiration to them which made me feel great.

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 After graduation, the people who came to show support and my classmates all met up together and we took a bunch of pictures.

Pictures include: 1) My brother James and my mom, 2) Me and my boyfriend, 3) My stepdad and my godfather, 4) Me & Rose, 5) Me & Libby (a first year student in my program), 6) A Family Selfie including my aunt and uncle, 7) My professor and the head of our program, Delight Champagne & 8) Almost all of my graduating class.

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After graduation, we had a grad party which was definitely a lot of fun. People were at my house until about 2:00 am, celebrating with me. Overall, it was a great day and I am very proud to say that I accomplished one of my goals!

As I told a bunch of people who asked me what’s next…

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Rejection Emails

“We regret to inform you that you are no longer being considered for this position.”

“We appreciate the time, energy and effort involved in your application for this position. However, School Name regrets to inform you that we are unable to pursue your candidacy further on this occasion.”

“The search committee has completed its initial evaluation, and, at this time, we are moving forward with other applicants we feel have all the required and preferred qualifications we seek for this position.”

Within this past week, I’ve received three rejection emails from schools I have applied to. Let me tell you, it sucks. I know it was going to happen seeing as I can’t have every job I’ve applied to, however I didn’t think it was going to be as bad of a feeling as it is. Two of the schools that I got rejections from, I really liked the position so that added more hurt to the letters.  I’m going to use these as a motivation for when I do get interviews from other schools. I know that there is a job and school out there that will be a great fit for me.

Random Rambling

Random Ramble 1:

 I’m not sure if I had mentioned this previously, but I am someone who identifies as a biracial, person of color.  My boyfriend and my step son are both African American and they have to be considered in my search. Now, you may ask what this has to do with anything. Well when I was considering places to search, I had to consider the things going on in the news recently. I remember when I was getting ready for TPE, a school in St. Louis asked me to interview with them. I automatically said no. Not only was it out my region but there was too much going on there in which I would fear for the lives of my boyfriend and stepson. It’s just been something on my mind a lot lately. As of now, I haven’t heard too much about things going on in DC, Maryland or Massachusetts, which makes me happy.

Random Ramble 2:

I had previously posted that I planned on moving to DC right after graduation and continue to job search while over there. However, recently there were 2 jobs posted in Mass that were amazing. They’re two student activities jobs that peaked my interest. One is at a school where I previously interned at and the other is a school where I was going to intern at this semester. The plus side is that they are both paying what I said I wanted for my first job. The only issue and the reason I haven’t applied is that they are here and not in DC.

The reason I’m moving to DC is because I no longer want to be in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. I would rather live in the same city as him than to be living 6 hours away. I asked him this morning if he thought I should apply to the job and if he would move up here if I got them and he said yes. However, I wouldn’t want him to leave his son in DC. So now, I am torn.

Random Ramble 3:

It seems as though my job search has come to a halt. There isn’t much going on in the DC/MD area in the areas where I am interested in. It kind of sucks because I see and hear people going to on-campus interviews and what not and I haven’t heard back from anything I’ve applied too. Some of my classmates already have a job which is great however, I wish I could have one too already. I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people’s searches but it is hard not to.

I’ve self-diagnosed myself with Impostor syndrome…

By the definition provided by the oh so credible Wikipedia, Impostor Syndrome is:

a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.

 The impostor feelings can be divided into three sub categories:

  1.  Feeling like a fake: the belief that one does not deserve his or her success or professional position and that somehow other have been deceived into thinking otherwise. This goes together with a fear of being, “found out”, discovered or “unmasked”. People who feel this way would identify with statements such as: “I can give the impression that I am more competent than I really am.”  “I am often afraid that others will discover how much knowledge I really lack”.
  1.  Attributing success to luck: Another aspect of the impostor syndrome is the tendency to attribute success to luck or to other external reasons and not to your own internal abilities
  1.  Discounting Success: The third aspect is a tendency to downplay success and discount it.

Over the past eight days, I’ve been in New Orleans for TPE and the NASPA Annual Conference. While the experience has been great and I have met a lot of my twitter friends in person, I felt like an impostor during some of the time and specifically during one event.

So as I’ve mentioned before, I am moving to region 2 after graduation. I am in a long distance relationship and my partner happens to live in the DC/ Maryland area which falls into region 2. I’ve been trying to get involved with the region ahead of time and make connections before I move out there. I decided to go to the region 2 business meeting and the reception to do some connecting. At the reception, my syndrome came on in full force. I was standing in a corner and the feeling of being a fake (hence why it is bolded above) came over me. I was nervous that someone would come up to me and ask me what school I’m at or where I was working or what not and that I would have to tell them well no, I’m actually a region 1 grad who is planning to move to region 2 with no job.  Needless to say, I left within a few minutes.

I told my friend how I felt and he told me I need to get over that feeling and step out my shell. As a serious introvert, my energy level is damn near gone at this point. I’ve tried to put inn breaks so that I can recharge and get myself together but it hasn’t helped too much. I have to learn how to be able to go up to folks and just start talking and chatting with them and not feel so shy and nervous about doing it.

However, although I was semi quiet during the conference, I did manage to meet some folks and connect with them.  I think between NASPA and ACPA I’ve gained over 30 business cards. Yes, that might not sound like a lot to anyone else, but to me that is a HUGE accomplishment. I am happy to have experienced both NASPA and ACPA this year as both conference definitely taught me about the field I love so much.

Supportive Partners

Message from DreAs I might have mentioned previously, I am currently attending TPE. I came into TPE this week, with only one interview. I am not looking for Res Life positions and I am restricted geographically so the amount of position that fit my criteria are slim to none. During my first interview, the lady that was interviewing me, suggested that I also apply to some of the recently posted jobs, so I did.

I sent out two interview requests right after my interview and hoped for the best. I received an email later on in the day that said that one of the schools that I asked to interview with didn’t want to offer me an interview. When I received that email, I was obviously disappointed.

I texted Andre to let him know and that was his response. I love the fact that although he works in the farthest thing from higher education and probably has no clue what more than half of the things I rant and vent to him about are, he still tries to be the most supportive boyfriend he can be. Before every interview, he send me some sort of motivational text telling me I’m going to rock the interview. It’s always those little random texts that help me get through the interview.

I also love that when I go home, I get to completely (or try to completely) detach from work since he has no connection with student affairs. I can’t go home to talk about the latest Student Activities event I’m planning and compare it to his since he doesn’t work in higher education and I absolutely appreciate that aspect.

I’m happy I have him in my corner to help support me through this stressful job search.

Sappy love note: I love you babe! Thanks for everything!

My time in Tampa with ACPA

As I write this, I’m getting ready to wrap things up at ACPA. In a couple hours, I’ll be headed back home and back to the cold and snow. For the past four days, I’ve been able to experience Tampa, ACPA and Career Central and let me tell you, it’s been quite the experience!
I got to Tampa on Wednesday but didn’t head to the convention center. I went to where I was staying in Clearwater and unpacked and got ready for the upcoming days.

Thursday morning, I got ready to head to the convention center and start my first ACPA experience. On Thursday, I was schedule to interview at two schools. I was definitely nervous at first but in my opinion, both interviews went well. I didn’t feel like I was really interviewing, rather just having a conversation. After that, I had some free time before the opening sessions. The opening sessions were amazing. All three speakers were great and definitely hit topics that made you think. Following that, there was the CultureFest which showcased several spoken words and then a spoken word from La Bruja. Following the CultureFest there was a Commission for Multicultural Affairs Social. I stayed for a little bit and got to see others who were involved in the commission.

On Friday, I was able to attend a few sessions and meet some of my Twitter friends. I attended sessions on the transition to a new city, student organization financials, black student athletes and the career paths of black student affairs pros. All the sessions I attended were great and very informational and I got to meet my future NASPA roommate and Dr. Kevin Dougherty who I’ve met because of Twitter. I also got to meet my ACPAgrow mentor Nick in person. Nick and I have been chatting since October about different student affairs topics and he has been helping me with just grad student who is job searching life in general. He’s a great guy and has helped me a lot so it was cool to meet him in person. While I was sitting around, I got to meet Kelvin Rutledge who had done a spoken word the night before. I also got to go to dinner with my program advisor and we chatted about my search and how my time in her program is almost up. I went to a couple socials that night and got to meet some amazing women of color in our field. I also was able to finally meet Dr. Paul Porter who I’ve also chatted with on Twitter.

As Saturday comes to a close, I realized this has been an amazing journey. I was invited on a coffee outing with one of the schools I interviewed with which gave me a great insight on the school and the person I would be working with. I only attended one session today ( a session on black student athletes) because I spent a lot of the day meeting with folks from Twitter and getting to know them. I chatted with the great Faran Saeed who is also a #sagrad. We chatted for a good thirty minutes and it felt cool to connect with him. I follow him on Twitter and we’ve tweeted occasionally so it was good to put a face to a Twitter. I also got to meet Frederick Smith and Juhi Bhatt. Both of them are #sapros who I’ve followed on Twitter and who’s work I admire. Juhi and I went for lunch and just chatted about student affairs and life in general. Later on, after my session I’m going to meet with Dr. Porter for coffee and to chat as well.

Although my experience isn’t completely over, I think this experience has been great. As an introvert, going out to meet people isn’t my strongest suit. But having the connection ahead of time from Twitter made things all that easier. Twitter definitely helped me connect and network with people in the field.

Shoutout to the amazing #sagrads and #sapros I got to meet during ACPA! If you don’t follow them, I’d suggest you do! (@NicholasStroup , @DrKDougherty , @MrAbsoluteZero , @DrPaulPorter , @jbhatt12 , @faransaeed , @fsmith827 ). There’s so many more professionals who I’ve chatted with on Twitter who I would love to meet. My goal is to meet a few more at my next conference and to keep in touch with them as time goes on. There are some great connections to be made in our field and my shy, introverted self is determined to make them.

Interviewing

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I am going to both ACPA and TPE/NASPA next month. Both associations have been offering job search help and I’ve been taking full advantage of both. ACPA offered mock phone interviews and since interviewing is what I am most nervous about, I signed myself up.

The mock interview happened last week. I was originally trying to find an office at my mom’s job that I could use but seeing as though my mother is not at work at the moment, that wasn’t going to work. We have a walk-in closet room at my house so I set up shop in there. Before the call, I set everything up. I had my resume with me, some flashcards and a notebook to take some notes. When the lady called, I instantly got nervous. However, right from the start, she had me talking and laughing so I got really comfortable. We chit chatted for a minute or two and then she started the interview. She told me to pretend it was for a Student Athlete Advising job. The fact that she chit chatted with me before the actual interview helped me out a lot. I’m not sure if most interviews will go like that but if they do, I think I can handle that.

The first question she asked was “tell me about yourself” (technically not a question) but it is the most common interview question.  I had recently read an article that taught you how to answer this question in five parts. It stated that the answer should be no shorter than 2 minutes but no longer than 3 minutes. The five parts included professional achievements, educational achievements, applicable skills, professional goals and finally, why the company (school in our case). I found this to be really useful when I was thinking about my answer.

She asked me 16 questions in total. I tried to write them all down so I could be prepared for them in the future. Some of the questions she asked included:
• What kind of office type do I work in best?
• Tell me about a theory to practice experience
• What are 3 of your strengths?
• What are some issues facing student athletes?
• Why am I the ideal candidate for the position?
• Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult student.

The last question she asked threw me off because I was not ready for it at all. She asked “Is there a question you were expecting us to ask that we didn’t. If so, what is the question and what would be the answer?” I froze up. Luckily for me, it wasn’t a real interview because I started laughing when I couldn’t think of anything.  She said that question is a chance for me to tell them something about myself that I hadn’t already. So the question would be “What haven’t you gotten to tell us that we should know about you?” She said I could use this opportunity to set myself out from other candidates. She said if I couldn’t think of anything, I could always ask a clarifying question.

After the interview she gave me some feedback. She said I did a great job and that the answers I gave were really good. I asked about my speed since I am a very fast talker and she said she didn’t have any trouble understanding me. She also said that if I had filler words (uhm, I think, etc.) that she didn’t catch them and that they weren’t distracting.

When we got off the phone, I was very pleased with what had just happened. For being as nervous as I am, I was able to pull through and give a good interview. To continue to prepare, I’ve gotten some index cards and wrote common questions on them. On the lined side, I’m writing bullet points for my answers. I know you’re not supposed to sound scripted but if I can at least have some flash cards to practice, then I think I should be fine.

I have some interviews at Career Central coming up this week, so I’m gonna use the time to prepare for those interviews and get some practice with interviewing.

My mom had a heart attack yesterday.

These past few days have been a whirlwind. My mom has been complaining of pain lately but she’s a trooper. However, on Thursday I noticed her crying so I knew it was serious. She went to the doctors and they sent her home with some meds but said everything was fine.

Friday afternoon, we were home and she all of a sudden said she wasn’t feeling good again. That the pain was worse. I called my aunt and when she got there, we tried to lift my mother up to the bathroom and she passed out in our arms.

When I got to the hospital, they informed me that my mother was having a heart attack. I broke down. Anyone that knows me knows that my mom is the single most important person in my life. She’s my best friend, my support system, my everything. So to hear that she wasn’t okay just didn’t make sense to me.

The doctor brought her into emergency surgery and within an hour (although it felt like days) he came out and said she was fine. She had 90% blockage in one area that he cleared and two other blockages that he’ll treat with medicine. I was so relieved to hear the news. I gave him the biggest, tightest hug imaginable.

She’ll be in the hospital until tomorrow but she’s up and talking like nothing happened. I’m so grateful that she’s okay. It was a crazy way to spend Valentine’s Day weekend but I wouldn’t have left her side no matter what.

I love my old lady.

Judgments and the Job Search

I was at this presentation. It was great! Thanks for the information!

Challenged and Supported

I recently had the opportunity to present to undergraduates, graduate students, and new professionals at a conference. My presentation was about the job search and little tips and tricks I learned along the way. One of those things was regarding professional dress.

“Does anyone follow #SAChat on Twitter?” I asked. A few people raised their hands. “This has been a really hot topic lately.” .

“Here’s the thing: you are going to be judged based on your appearance during your job search. Is that right or fair? I don’t know. But it’s going to happen. So you really need to put some thought and effort into how you are going to present yourself. My suggestion would be to get a second opinon. I’m all for expressing yourself and feeling comfortable in what you’re wearing, but I would think about what outfits you want to wear prior to the conference and…

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Inside my own head

I feel like there is so much going on lately. It’s only the beginning of the year (although it is already February, crazy right?!) and I already feel stressed. There’s so much going on with school, internships, my relationship, and at home that I feel like I haven’t had a chance to breathe and relax. Any time I have a free second, I’m in my head. I’m thinking about ways to change this or that or fix one problem or the next or what is next on my ever growing to do list.

Sometimes I think it may just be me. That I over think things too much. Whenever things like this happen (too much at once), I feel a state of depression coming on. It’s usually when I don’t feel like I can talk to anyone about my issues. You know, sometimes a girl just needs to vent. Sometimes I wish I had a person who was unbiased and would just listen to me just mumble on without judging or trying to give me solutions. I just need someone to listen occasionally.

I haven’t been myself lately so I’m gonna take these next couple days and just have “me days”. Just hang out in my room and relax, listen to music, clean up and what not. I think it will do me good. I also took a minor self care afternoon today. I was able to go in for a massage and that definitely helped me relax a little bit.

We’ll see how these next couple days play out.