Tell Me About Yourself

In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.

The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.

From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.

I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.

I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."

I can't wait to do it again.

#EMchat Meet #CareerServChat - August 21st!

We’re excited to partner up with the #CareerServChat team for our chat on August 21st to discuss how student outcomes are affecting recruitment strategies and how these two divisions can work together toward common goals.

Elizabeth Dexter-Wilson kicked this topic off on #CareerServChat’s August 14th chat and we’re looking forward to continuing the conversation!

Pulled directly from their site, #CareerServChat is a Twitter chat dedicated to engaging college students and graduates in the career development process and answering career and job related questions. The professionals facilitating #CareerServChat support the use of career services offices and resources at colleges and universities.

Here’s the transcript of the chat:

Here are the questions for tonight's chat:

Q1: How have you seen student outcomes affect your recruitment efforts? Q2: What's the collaboration level between EM/Career Services on your campus? How has this evolved? Q3: Does career services participate in EM events (open houses, admitted student day, etc.) on your campus? Q4: What information or support do you look for from your career services? What about from EM? Q5: Should any particular office be "in charge" of discussing with students the value/ROI of careers from your institution? Q6: Have you had any negative experiences stemming from the need to promote outcomes? Either from faculty or students?

And as always, feel free to bring your own questions to the party…and a drink. That’s always a necessity.

Still not sold on the role of student outcomes in the world of recruitment? Check out this post on 2014 Trends from our friends over at The Lawlor Group -- read them all, but definitely Trend 3!

See you on Thursday!

EM, Meet Advancement. Advancement, EM.

I’m sitting here without electric. I’m bored, getting kind of cold, watching the candles dwindle as the flames start to burn out (mostly because I’ve been burning candles all day...it’s what we do here), and enjoying the sound of the wind and rain. To be honest, I should probably be scared. I don’t know.  I have a glass of sauvignon blanc on my left and a glass of cabernet sauvignon on the right. I’m taking on this frankenstorm in the classiest manner I know how. I’m also typing this post with my thumbs and I’m not going to lie, I’m amazed at my dexterity. I’m pretty fast. Let’s hope that autocorrect doesn’t place any ridiculous words in this post.

I just read this article from our friends over at Noel-Levitz, and I realize more than ever the importance of having a connected university. I was lucky to have the opportunity to work in enrollment management, student affairs, academic affairs, and university advancement as an undergrad and graduate student at Salisbury University. I know that I drove my now wife crazy with all of my jobs, but I wouldn’t have the knowledge of how institutions work without those experiences.  She’s awesome.

It’s interesting that I would write this post tonight. As a Marylander, I’ve [obviously] been affected by Sandy. And yet, as I’m worrying about my family, my coworkers and my life here in DC (ish), I’m also worrying about my school. Salisbury sits 30 miles away from Ocean City, Maryland, practically underwater.

I’m thinking about the residence halls, the buildings, the city and the students. I’m thinking about the local barsI used to head to with throngs of friends for Thirsty Thursdays or weekend nights as I see pictures on Facebook of those establishments underwater. I remember mud sliding in the quad…running and jumping head first across the giant puddle, formed by a would-be-snow-storm that JUST wasn’t cold enough, ultimately ending on the other side, being amazed at how this was possible. I’m thinking about my freshman experience, especially as a good friend and cluster mate left me a voicemail yesterday that I’ve yet to return (but WILL very soon). I remember sitting on the beach and watching waves with friends as crazy storms rolled in. I’m smiling, thinking about taking Meggie on our first date as freshmen, just four months into our college years…driving to the beach to see the Christmas lights.

As I look down, I notice that I’m wearing Salisbury sweatpants and an SU t-shirt. I look at the collages of pictures on the wall and see my friends smiling back. I look at the blanket on my floor. Salisbury. The photo album on the shelf. Salisbury. My engagement pictures. Salisbury. And let’s not get ahead of ourselves, no, my apartment is not a shrine to SU. My wife is a phenomenal decorator. Really phenomenal.

When I go to college fairs as an alumni volunteer, I see firsthand the shocked faces of students and parents when I say that I don’t work for SU. I’m there, volunteering on a Saturday morning or Tuesday after work because I love my institution. I’m able to provide an insight to my school that these students may not otherwise see. I can tell these stories. I can smile and laugh and be genuine. And, that’s what sells an institution. I can pull from my cross-campus experiences (look for this term in a later post) to answer student questions, paired of course with the EXCELLENT alumni admissions training offered by my alma mater. I can mention my friends who are successful teachers in the state and those who went on, like me, to pursue their master’s. I can talk about my friends working for non-profits, the government, or starting their own businesses after winning competitions put on by Salisbury. I can offer that level of credibility. I can talk directly about job placement. I can speak both to and from experience.

I don’t want to step on Kristen Rothfeld’s excellent past posts on utilizing alumni in EM, I just want to offer my vantage point.

And now I’m thinking about giving. At 25, I’m pretty much just beginning my professional career; and, while I’m in a great place, it’s not one that offers me the opportunity to give to my school on the level that I desire. So I give my time at college fairs, I give my knowledge when it comes to social media and I give my stories to anyone who will listen.

How do you give back?

Oh The Places You'll Go

Wrapping up my thoughts on my job-searching journey. Here we go….

I am beginning to think there is a secret pass code, decoder ring, or combination lock when securing a full time position in student affairs. If those items are in existence, please come forward now. I decided to attend graduate school for College Student Affairs because I love a college campus. I love the feeling that you get when you step onto that concrete slab with buildings and suddenly, you’re transported without warning into a land that has deep roots and traditions, laughter, music, shouting students showing their school spirit, banners advertising for the next SGA Club president, and friendly faces who want YOU to be apart of their team. The best part of this degree is you have thousands upon thousands of choices to choose your very own land to be transported to.

I am so thankful to those who check in daily via Facebook, email, twitter etc…. just to see where I am at in my job searching process. Words cannot express how truly grateful I am that you care. Not only does it keep me going on a daily basis, but it keeps reestablishing that there are fantastic professionals in our field that have a sense of class, professionalism, and a passion for making a college a better place. I look forward to staying in contact with you all in years to come.

Good News ……

Ever since graduating in May 2010 with my Masters in College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida, I have created every part time position I have had. I went and sought out opportunities to keep my resume alive for it was and is still important for me to be apart of student affairs in some way, shape, or form.

I have had the amazing opportunity to be interning with Valencia College Student Development Collegewide here in Orlando, Florida since January 2012. My supervisor, who is the Director of Student Development Collegewide, created a part time position for me starting in August that will allow me to continue to grow and develop as a professional in an organization.

The other day I was driving home from work and I suddenly had an “aha” moment. This internship turned part time position is the right fit for me at this point in time. I have fought so hard for two in half years for a full time position and have lost the battle. Now, I just need to SEE the opportunity right in front of me and be okay with it.

I am in the end very grateful for this battle to find a full time position in College Student Affairs because when the time comes to have my very own office space and I can hang that M.Ed. diploma on my very own wall, it will be that much sweeter. I have always been a late bloomer in the sense of finding my way in life and this is just another challenge I will over come. I mean, after all, I want to be the Dean of Students one day and I have to start somewhere!

I will find the decoder ring one day and when I do you’ll be the first to know.

Until then, I will keep you updated on my experiences as I try to find my way into a student affairs world that I CAN picture in my head and try to make it a reality.

Pinterest Ideas

Last night’s chat on Pinterest in Higher Ed was one of our most successful chats yet and there is a TON of content to read through.  But, if you’re just interested in some ideas for boards to create at your institution, these ideas popped up in the chat.  We branched out of enrollment management, but let’s be honest, in the end, everything affects recruitment.

 “Accepted” – Accepted students pin their acceptance letters with something that speaks to their personality. Think about Erin King’s MIT Acceptance Letter to Space on a pinning scale.

“Our Campus” -- Just another avenue for a campus tour.  But it’s not just any avenue, it’s an awesome one.

“Day in the Life Of” -- Of a current student? Of a current major? Of a faculty member? Of anyone. What a great suggestion to provide a different level of insight.

“Campus Hangouts” – Who wouldn’t want to know this?

“What being a {mascot} means to you” – Another tap into creativity.  And, there’s never anything wrong with school pride.

“Campus history” – A unique way to tell your campus’ story.

“How College Kids Eat” – Awesome spot for healthy recipes or not-so-healthy-just-really-delicious meals.

“{Mascot}’s around the globe” – Or alumni happenings in general. Babies? Non-human babies? Pre-baby “baby”?

“Why I love being a student here” – And why any prospective student would love it, too.

The list goes on and on, but the point is, it seems like Pinterest is taking a prominent seat at the SM table in higher education.  After last night’s chat, heck, I think I’ll start using my account a bit more…

We’ll have a follow-on chat in a few weeks—and thanks again to our awesome guest, Travis Brock from Educational Marketing Group.  If you want to see some really great examples of Pinterest in higher ed, check out their post.

Cheers to a great weekend, friends!

-Alex