For this post, I’m excited to dig into strategies for folks starting their first professional job in career services! Practice applying Schlossberg’s Transition Theory to your life now, as you can genuinely share what it was like with your students experiencing career crossroads! Schlossberg’s latest edition of her book, Overwhelmed, is designed for anyone going through change, and I highly recommend it for you and your students. The 4 S’s of Schlossberg’s Theory are broken down below to illuminate some ways to consider your career services journey:
Situation: Assuming you have a job right now, take stock of what you’re getting into. How much did you plan for this transition, beyond the job search and moving logistics? What previous experience with transitions and career services do you have? What are concurrent stressors you have going on right now? Entering this field can be a sharp learning curve, particularly with nuances of different industries and departmental preferences. Gallup’s Wellbeing book and online resources, and NACE’s career counselor competencies, may provide a structure to get on your feet, zoom out, and focus on setting attainable goals as a new career services professional.
Support: Schlossberg outlines the kind of support we need, where it comes from, and the degree to which our supports will change in the transition. Take some time to seriously think about how this applies to you now. For example, since I’ll probably be making another cross-country move at some point, I’ll be using websites like meetup.com, waka.com, volunteermatch.org, and professional LinkedIn groups to put myself in spaces where I’ll have meaningful and sustained contact with people. What support will you need to create?
Self: This section could easily be an entire blog post, but in short, our identity, characteristics and psychological resources will always be a part of transitions. You are managing the gap between your expectations and the reality of your transition, so building resilience through reflection and strategies as you take on this new professional identity is critical. Brene Brown’s research on shame and resilience is a fantastic reference point for more on this!
Strategies: Everyone needs to use a broad and flexible range of coping strategies – what you need in the first week should be different from your sixth month in a new job. Whether it’s taking action, gathering information, meditating, or any number of other coping mechanisms, really pause to consider what actual strategies you’ll need. Build an intentional tool belt by learning more about yourself, so you can draw on the right strategies at the right time. Ask about the on-boarding process before you get there, observe appointments as much as possible, even make a bullet journal to organize and motivate you throughout the experience, and review Whitt’s Don’t Drink The Water (1997) for good measure!
What lessons are you taking away from your transitions so far? What are you still working through? What are you most proud of achieving as you’ve been coping with this experience? Please share below, and thanks for reading!
This month is dedicated to the new crop of new professionals beginning their careers in higher education. Stay tuned for advice on job searching, transitioning into the field, and translating all of that new knowledge to the field.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.