My Iowa State University undergraduate leadership experience was mostly in admissions and orientation, with a 3-semester run as an RA. I interviewed for graduate programs with the intent on landing an assistantship in admissions or orientation. I spent a few cold, February days at Western Illinois University’s CSP days interviewing when I fell in love with the program, the current graduate students, professionals, and faculty. I declared, driving back to Iowa that day, “I will accept any assistantship there, as long as it means that I get to be a part of that program”. A few weeks later, my assistantship offer came through as programming graduate assistant in the Office of Student Activities. I accepted, and I was terrified.
I had never really been in a student organization in undergrad. I didn’t even know student organizations had advisors. I hardly knew what a program was. I did not know the programming board was the force behind Friday night BINGO at Iowa State University although I was a regular attendee.
Thanks to the mentorship, friendship, and patience of my first-year co-grad, Travis, I learned the ropes of programming and student activities. I even ended up loving it. I spent two years in that office, working with the programming board and learning. And then I graduated.
The two longest years of my life suddenly were over and now feel like two of the shortest. My cohort scattered across the country. My office that I called home for two years stayed put. Do they miss me? Did I leave a legacy? Did I make a mark? What would I do differently if I could do it again? There aren’t answers to these questions even though I can’t stop asking them. It’s a weird feeling, leaving a place after giving so much to it. My experience in graduate school was stripping in the best way. Now I feel like I am taking time for healing, and becoming a stronger and more confident woman in this in-between time.
I’m in-between graduate school and my first professional position and it’s weird, scary, awkward, and peaceful. My husband goes to work each morning and I drink coffee. Going from a to-do list a mile long and my days feeling like they are going a thousand miles an hour, to getting to slow down and take a deep breath is a very different feeling. I know that my first professional position will be a plunge much like my entrance into graduate school: a leap into the unknown. I know that I have the skills, mindset, and bravery to be successful.
But until then, I am taking the time to dance and bask in the joy of being in-between. I’m getting back to enjoying things that make me feel like me. I’m running a lot more, doing workouts with my husband, reading for fun, engaging in a new community, and feeling joyful. I’m thankful for this place that I am in. I know that I will be starting my professional career a lot stronger because of this time I’ve taken to dance.
Whatever your job search looks like remember this:
1. Everyone’s search looks very different so comparing yourself to your colleagues will just drive you crazy,
2. Taking some time for a couple deep breaths in-between can be just the cleanse you need, and
3. Wherever you are, be all there.
#SABeginnings is a month long series that asks SA grad students and 1st year pros to share a piece of their journey with the entire SAC community, new and seasoned. We believe in investing in the future of our awesome profession here at SAC. For more information, check out the introduction post written by Alex Fields.