My name is Meagan and I’m very excited to be blogging for the Student Affairs Collective as a newly minted first-year professional. On May 9th, I graduated from the College Student Personnel program at Western Illinois University in the small and wonderful town of Macomb, IL. And on May 19th, I started my new job as an academic adviser two states away at the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. I’ve been on the job a little more than a month, and am up to my neck in advising responsibilities for 26 New Student Enrollment sessions this summer—15 down, 11 to go!
I started job searching in January, mostly to get some experience examining job descriptions and tailoring all my professional documents. As a graduate student, I spent two years advising students in the career development center on campus, and I figured it was time to practice what I had been preaching. Over about three weeks in January, I bookmarked the employment sites of schools that would keep me in the Midwest, and no further than the 4-ish hours I was driving to get to my partner, and made a habit of checking them very regularly (sometimes several times a day – I admit it grew to a little bit of an obsession).
In late February I found a posting for an academic adviser at UNL, which is exactly the functional area I wanted to get into (most of my classmates were pursuing housing, and while I was prepared to go that route if I absolutely had to, I ultimately knew that’s not what I saw myself doing long-term). After I applied, I rather promptly forgot about the application. Between other applications and working hard to finish my degree, it slipped my mind. On a Monday at the end of March, I got a phone call asking me to come to campus that Thursday. The turn-around was quick, but that just meant less time to panic or over-prepare to the point of not being authentic in my interview.
It was my first interview of the entire job search process; all my other applications were still being reviewed. The whole experience was positive from the second I stepped on campus. The place and people were welcoming, and I didn’t feel the least bit anxious. My answers to questions felt natural, and I kept thinking about how awesome it was to really articulate all the things I’d been learning in the program and my personal thoughts on it all. I left campus feeling good about things, and was expecting an answer by the following Thursday or Friday.
In the meantime, I went to ACPA in Indianapolis, which kept me mostly distracted from checking emails and voicemails just in case they made their decision earlier. I had two other interviews for housing positions at ACPA, which felt good—I didn’t want all my eggs in UNL’s basket.
On my drive home from Indy that Wednesday, I received a cryptic end-of-day voicemail (I didn’t hear my phone!!) from the director of the office at UNL telling me to give her a call back. Noticing that it was already 4:50 Central Time, I quickly called, hoping so badly I wouldn’t have to wait for the news for the next day. She answered and made me an offer. I may or may not have cried (I did). Due to my hectic schedule, I hadn’t actually been home since I was on campus a week earlier, so I asked for a night to sleep on it, which I felt was appropriate. The next morning, on April 3rd, I happily accepted the offer.
The process was a whirlwind, the turn-around between graduation and work was a whirlwind, the move itself was a whirlwind, and the last month or so has been a huge whirlwind of learning. And it’s not just the job that I’m trying to get used to—it’s the whole new lifestyle that has come with graduate school ending and work starting. How do I make friends? How do I remain committed to my own learning? How do I connect to my colleagues? How do I maintain relationships with people from grad school? How do I get involved in my new community/on my new campus? How do I have the energy to maintain my apartment when I’m exhausted after work and can barely manage to feed myself? These are just some of the questions I spend a significant amount of time thinking about, and I’m excited to share those, and many more, thoughts with you here on the blog!
Stay tuned—my life has a funny way of always being adventurous in the ways I never expect it to be.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Meagan, Karyn, Michael, and Alice, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SAgrad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.