At the beginning of June I officially accepted a job and will commence my professional student affairs journey by moving across the country in one month to work at Cal State Los Angeles. I have been hired to a Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator in the Center for Student Involvement.
I’m incredibly nervous and excited. Concluding the job search was all at once relieving, satisfying and stressful. Knowing the next step has been a constant worry the past couple months, the job search was a process of feeling all at once not enough and validated for my hard work. I was incredibly lucky to have received two job offers. The positions were both in fraternity and sorority life but differed in the structure of the departments, size of communities, and the institutions themselves. Both provided my the chance to live in a big city and work at public institutions, two hopeful bonuses that I would gain from my first position.
They were both jobs I was incredibly interested in and if either had been a standalone offer I would have have happily accepted a position. This made the choice all the more difficult. At the back of my mind, the question that marinated my thoughts as I considered which position to accept was the fear of choosing the “wrong” job. I was looking at the skills I would develop professionally from each job, the environment, and the long term benefit. And I was stuck from which to choose. I made pro/con lists, I spoke to mentors and peers about the positions, I compared where each position leaves me after 5 years, and what opportunities are presented from each institution that are not explicitly listed in a job description. And after all the reflection, processing, dialogue, and lists I was still left stuck.
As a musical theater lover, this reminded me of Cinderella from “Into the Woods” when she is stuck on the steps
of the palace and has to choose between staying on the steps for the prince or running away back home. Cinderella mused between facing the reality of meeting the prince and acknowledging her identity or returning home, where there is “nothing to choose so there’s nothing to lose.” Cinderella was prompted with her first big decision and was overwhelmed. (Spoiler) Ultimately, Cinderella leaves her slipper on the steps for the prince to choose if he wishes to pursue her from this clue. She abdicated the choice to a third party.
Unfortunately, I had no third party to make this choice for me. And not choosing meant losing both job options- which was an outcome I wanted to avoid. As I reflected I realized this was my first big decision I’ve had to make since I first decided which college to attend as an undergraduate. And in many capacities, this decision is larger than when I enrolled at Eastern Michigan University. The weight of this decision and the reality that I would be disappointing a potential employer consumed me and I went back and forth on the steps of which job was “right” for me.
I realized through this process emphasis is placed on choosing a “right” job. When I would speak with people they would hope I would choose the “right” job and I feared I would choose the wrong one. Jobs are not inherently moral or amoral—there was not a wrong choice in this process. What is more important are the skills I will be gaining from the position and how I can sell myself based upon the experience. What helped edge Cal State Los Angeles as a the top selection was also a feeling that reminded me of my alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, and a place I called home.
I’m hopeful for my new position and the next step in my life. It will challenge me, develop me, and ideally support me. This was the first decision I’ve had to make as a student affairs professional, but realistically will not be my last. Either way, I’m ecstatic that I am now officially a student affairs professional.
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 SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.