May 1st: It's Coming

May 1st marks a pretty big day for students all over (at least in the media, since, you know, May 1st is now a pretty flexible date), but Decision Day still carries a lot of hype. If we think about it in media terms, this is the date when prospective students choose the institution that will help to shape the rest of their lives.

And so, it’s a bit ironic that May 1st plays a pretty big role in my life as well when it comes to the realm of enrollment management.

For the last five (which is crazy to me) years, I’ve spent my time on Capitol Hill working for both the Senate and House as an analyst and program manager, respectively, in the area of emergency preparedness and continuity. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with super smart people who have shaped my professional career and personal life. I’ve found great mentors and made many friends. I've also learned a lot professionally, and while my next stop isn’t in the emergency preparedness space, there are definite lessons and skills that I’ll carry forward with me.

But, it’s no secret that my passion centers around enrollment management and higher education in general. If you’re reading this and you didn’t know that, surprise!

While my actual “decision day” was about six weeks ago, May 1st marks my first day with Technolutions. I will be leaving my super-beloved Maryland behind for currently snowier pastures in Connecticut. I’m blessed to have a wife who supports all my endeavors, even though it means leaving almost all of our family (and almost all of our friends) five hours away...and selling and buying homes when she’s five months pregnant. I’m also blessed to have a son who can’t really tell me he doesn’t want to move quite yet…and another on the way who will call Connecticut his first home.

Relationships have always been at the core of all decisions I’ve made in my professional and personal lives and I’m thrilled to be able to work with a company that operates in the same way. To put this opportunity in one word, it’s exhilarating.  

When considering relationships, I’d absolutely be amiss if I didn’t credit this opportunity to #EMchat. Whether it’s the knowledge I’ve gained through this community, the professional connections I’ve been able to make, or the personal relationships that have grown from those connections; this community is extraordinary and I’m so lucky to have been a part of it for almost four years now. Thanks to everyone who makes it a possibility and continues to grow the community.

With that said, I’m now in a whole new area which means so many more opportunities for meetings in real life! Give me a shout if you’re in the area, and while Scott Cline would probably say that I’m really unreliable when it comes to making coffees, lunches, or happy hours happen, I’m really trying to be better about it! I promise, I’m real.

See you soon, higher ed!


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!

5 Things You Think Will Make You Happier at Work (And Actually Do)

I came across this article yeImagesterday on my metro-ride home and read it in about three minutes.  If you didn't click the link already, the article is entitled, "5 Things You Think Will Make You Happier at Work (But Actually Won't)."

This writer succeeds in two areas: 1) writing for FastCo and 2) setting newly-minted job seekers up for failure.

Enrollment management and career services, in my opinion, are inextricably linked. As the world of higher education continues to shift, institutional outcomes are becoming more apparent as key decision factors in prospective students' decisions. As an aside seven sentences into this post, I was excited to see today that my alma mater's AVP of EM has a new title, AVP of EM and Career Services. I think this is a path more institutions should take.

But back to the article. It's timely as we've just celebrated Winter Commencements across the nation. Those students are looking for jobs, and articles like the one I'm about to dissect are a really big problem.

The writer suggests that the following things do not [always] make for a happier you:

1. A shorter workweek 2. More vacation time 3. A promotion or raise 4. A new job 5. "More Meaningful" Work

To all of the winter graduates, I have the following to say:

This is bogus. Particularly number 5.

So, in reverse:

5. Finding "meaningful" (and I'm not sure why she put it in quotes) work should be your primary objective. Doing what you love provides you, and I know from direct experience, with a sense of purpose and provides worthwhile goals to set and attain. #EMchat and an unannounced work-in-progress provide me with an unimaginable sense of professional self-worth. If your actual career isn't providing that for you, get a hobby. Celebrate your passion in whatever manner you need to, but make sure that you never let it die. It might take some time to get things figured out on your professional front, but always make sure it aligns with your personal ethics and aspirations.

4. A new job won't always provide you happiness, she's right. But, if you're job seeking, hopefully you're looking for a career that provides you with #5 above. A new job comes with a smorgasbord of new experiences to work through, including all nouns: people, places, and things. No job will be perfect. And you know what? If it's not what you're looking for, leave. In one of my less-proud moments, I quit a job after 3.5 weeks because I knew it was an awful fit for me. I'm happier because of that. Much. Happier.

3. A promotion or raise. "Money doesn't buy happiness and titles are just words." That's not a quote from the article, just something I read somewhere, once. The author points out that once we get a raise, we're cool with it for a while and then set a new goal for success. Here's a fact: no matter what job you have (or if you don't have one yet), if you are not continually setting, reassessing, and enhancing your goals, you're career will be stagnant. Whether you want more money, more responsibility, or more challenges, set each goal higher than the one before. It's not a crime to want more, and you shouldn't feel guilty for recognizing your ability and worth. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, well, wrong.

2 & 1. We can lump these together. A shorter workweek and more vacation time. The argument here is that we don't know HOW to use our time off. Okay, that's understandable. Here's how you do it: unplug from work. Aside from the fact that my work phone is a Blackberry and the worst device ever known to man, I don't take it home with me on weekends or vacations. If there's a real work emergency, I'm still accessible. If you're answering emails on weekends and vacation and you don't absolutely love your job, that's on you. The author makes this point, that we need to make sure we make sure we're fully engaged in our time off. Well, if you do that, a shorter workweek and more vacation time will absolutely make you happier.

So here's my advice--based on my experiences--to new graduates (and congrats, by the way!):

  • Don't settle for a job that doesn't provide you with meaning, either personally or professionally.
  • Don't take a job that pays you less than you believe you're worth. The only time this is semi-acceptable is if you need to break into an industry and that's the only option. In that case, set your goals high and move fast.
  • If you work for a shitty boss, whether they're ineffective managers, road blocks to your career, or just a miserable, mean person, you don't need to pay your dues unless you REALLY want to. Quit.
  • Use your vacation days every year. Negotiate a flex schedule if possible. Do this before you're hired.
  • Get a mentor. Whether formal or informal, find people in your life who will offer advice, motivate you, and help you succeed.
  • Don't read articles that tell you what won't make you happy in a career. Read ones that suggest avenues for success and happiness. Your job should be a positive experience. The things you read about it should be, too.
  • Be selfish--it's your career, your future, and your life.



What Motivates You?

A few months ago we announced that we’d like to start a “What motivates You?” series. We started off the next week with an awesome post from Ashley Scott and then we kind of fizzled off. I had intended on writing the second post and, well, here I am…a few months late!

I can tell you the moment I knew I wanted to work in enrollment management; although, at the time I only knew it as admissions. I toured Salisbury University on June 23, 2004. Yes, I know the date. I don’t know my tour guide’s name, but I know she had blonde hair and I quoted her introduction in my graduation commencement speech…”If I’m about to trip over something or fall while walking backwards, please let me know.” It became my tagline to make people laugh (so cliché), but also become a metaphor for my life. I wasn’t always sure where I was going and knew I would need help along the way.

I joined the admissions team during my sophomore year as a host. Elizabeth Coccia (CONNECT IF YOU HAVEN'T @ecoccia33) didn’t interview me, but she was the person who introduced me to the world of enrollment management. She provided the foundation for me to build my passion for helping other students find their right fit. She let me emcee during admitted student day, brought me along on counselor luncheons, and showed me what real passion for your job is about. She’s still doing it today, and I am so thankful that she somehow found #EMchat and realized that her wannabe protégé was one of the people behind it. I'm one of those people because of her.

I never took a position in admissions when I had the opportunity.  At the time in my life, it wasn’t right. I look back on that decision frequently. I’m happy to say that I don’t regret it. To be honest, if I had taken that job, I’m not sure that we would have #EMchat – although Jennielle and Jillian would probably still have rocked something out sans Alex.

I needed to keep abreast of trends and changes in the industry because I want to be an enrollment management consultant—my initial interest in the community was selfish, I’m comfortable with saying that now. But now…now I’m motivated each day by the conversations that take place in this community. I’m blown away. I’ve been fairly inactive the last few weeks because of work demands, but I follow the feed on a daily basis and am amazed at the dialogue that’s taking place. I’m in awe of the relationships that have been formed and those that form each day.

So, what motivates me? It’s changed over the years. We all have our true starting point (thanks, Elizabeth!), but we need motivation that takes us through each day and year. Thank you all for motivating me each and every day.

What motivates you? Let us know if you’d love to post on this topic!

Cheers. Alex