I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being the oldest sibling, I decided I needed to try and figure that out at the ripe old age of six. My sister, brother and I made up a game called “stores.” In it, our basement was a town, and we were a few of the small business owners. My sister was the bank owner, I was the stationery store owner, and none of us can really remember what my brother did. We spent hours in the basement setting up our stores and perfecting our skills. My mom still has duplicates of VHS Disney movie covers that I replicated during our imaginary game.
When I decided to change my major from social work to fine arts, I was reminded of this game. It seemed like I was destined to do something creative. I was pretty petrified that I wouldn’t get any sort of job when I graduated (a fear that I found my 500 or so classmates also held), but in true sophomore fashion I decided, well, screw it. There probably wasn’t another time in my life where I could spend four years in a studio making whatever I wanted (well, almost whatever I wanted – I went to a Catholic college).
Fast forward to graduation, unemployment for three months and my first job in student affairs. I truly can say that looking back, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Sure, I had experience as a work study student in a student development office. I served on student government in college, ending my tenure as SGA president. I worked as an overnight crisis counselor. However, none of that would truly prepare me to work as a one-woman office in my first job.
I have to say, I loved my first job. It was an amazing learning experience, and it taught me what I loved and didn’t love about student affairs. I learned I loved small institutions, smaller student populations and first-year students. I learned I loved orientation, something I have been running for the past seven years. I also learned I prefered non-traditional hours but couldn’t be a one-woman show. There were just too many things on my plate. I learned that residence life wasn’t for me; neither was athletics or admissions. I learned that I needed to be more organized when it came to project management.
I left my first job for more stability. By this point, I had almost forgotten about my artistic side because I was working too many hours to have time for anything else but work. I remember thinking during my first week at my current position, “What am I going to do after 6:00 PM?” Oh yeah, that thing I love that’s not a job quite yet. My lost hobby!
To me, my current job in student affairs is a great mix of ONE of the things I love and a job that gives me the time to do all of the OTHER things I love. I’ve learned that, yes, I care lots about my students. Yes, it’s amazing when they grow right before my eyes and go on to do amazing things. But time for my own self development and time for my hobbies makes me a healthier individual. It helps me learn new things and transferable skills that can be helpful during the workday. It also just helps me figure out what I enjoy and what kind of Sue I’d like to be.
This year, I uncovered one more piece of the “what I want to be when I grow up” puzzle. That stationary store that I imagined all those years ago is a reality in the form of my Etsy store. I’m still not sure what the rest of the puzzle looks like, but I certainly look forward to new adventures, in and out of student affairs, to help me figure it out.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles