I have to thank this community for a great response to my previous post about the "funk" in student affairs this time of year. Between both comments on the blog and emails/Tweets I received, I know more than ever that this topic is even more relevant than I had thought.
So, if the student affairs world is getting you down these days…how do you know if it's time to go? During these uncertain times it's hard to know if a job search is right for you as well as whether it's a good time to leave a secure environment. While you are racking your brain about how to deal with any loyalty you may feel to your current institution, we're here to talk about you and not them.
Let's start thinking about what might be going through your head if it's time to leave your current job. How about some of these:
- If you would rather get a root canal than attend yet another residence hall move-in weekend…
- If you find it hard to control the urge to tell the dean what you really think of him during your orientation meetings…
- If you have done the math to compare potential income in a retail job per hour with the income you are making now…
- If you hear the phrases like "we've always done it that way" and "we tried that and it didn't work" coming out of your mouth more than once in a blue moon….
Let's talk. All kidding aside, if you find it hard to maintain a level of professionalism and positive energy during a typical work week on a consistent basis it might be time for some conversation. I have known people who have spun so far into a low opinion of themselves and their work place that it has been hard to get a grip on reality. The question to wonder is whether this "funk" is temporary or whether it's more than that?
One thing that I'm always trying to warn friends to be conscious of is the typical cycles of stress in student affairs. The ebbs and flows of our jobs typically have a way of wearing on us just as quickly as they will pick us back up. The thing to watch out for is if you never get picked up.
Pay attention to how you are feeling the next time a student comes in with great news about an accomplishment or when a progress step finally comes from a group you have been advising. Are you excited about these great moments? Or, is the first instinct more of "that's nice" and a move on to returning emails and phone calls just to stay on top of your list.
I had a former staff member who left student affairs to become a meeting planner at a company. She said that the biggest difference was that the "highs" were not as high by any means… but the "lows" were nowhere near as low.
Are you too wrapped up in the lows so that you are missing the highs? These great moments are what makes everything worth it… are you letting them pass you by?
We'll talk next time about some more positive things like "when it's time to stay." For now, I'd love to hear from those who have made successful transitions out of jobs "when the time was right" and those who may have regretted waiting.
Any words of encouragement for those thinking of taking the plunge?