Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

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Charlie's Story - College Counseling and Career Development Graduate Program

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Entry 6/Final Entry

All that is remaining is graduation!

Our final culminating project for graduate school took place on Friday evening when we presented our research during the annual Spring Showcase event. More importantly, I received an email Saturday from my advisor notifying me that I successfully passed my comps! 

My research topic was: Where the Boys Aren’t: Why Men Underutilize College Career Services and What to do About It. We had to present our research on a poster and answer questions from those in attendance as they passed our station.  I learned a lot about why men don’t engage to the same degree as women in many co-curricular services on campuses across the nation.  One of the main things that career services’ staff can do to reach college men is to provide outreach programming.  We need to make our services convenient and mobile – going to their residence halls in the evening.  By providing our services after hours we can begin to reach this underserved population and educate them to the value our career development offices.

On Thursday I received a call from the Career Development Office at the University of Richmond (UR) in Virginia requesting a phone interview next Friday! This opportunity was a direct result of networking!  I attended a workshop while at the ACPA convention in Boston last month led by one of the career counselors at UR. It was an interesting program and afterward I spoke with the presenter and asked her to send me her PowerPoint.  When that workshop ended, I went directly to a meeting of the ACPA Commission for Career Development where I signed up to serve and at the same time registered on their listserv.  This position was not advertised on the normal national search sites.  I found it in an email from the Commission 2 weeks ago.  Because I had met Joslyn at her workshop and joined the Commission I had an inside track to getting an interview. It was Joslyn who called me last Thursday and who was so excited to offer me an interview, saying that my cover letter and application were excellent! No matter if I get this job or not, it’s so affirming to know that my life experience is not a detriment, but a plus and that there are colleges out there who will take a chance on a middle-ager!

My three-year graduate program is all but over, except for the pomp and circumstance!  I’ve had some wonderful people along the way who have supported and encouraged me, from classmates and professors to friends and family.

I am looking forward to this new career with both excitement and trepidation – unsure as to where I will land, but knowing that I’ve made the right decision to enter the field of college career development.  And knowing that I am finally doing what I’ve meant to do for a long time!

Entry 5

Although there is less than four weeks left at my internship and until graduation, things are as busy as ever at my site.  Most of the following items on my agenda will be accomplished by Tuesday:

·         My synopsis and summary of the Interview Stream project is almost complete.  I presented the preliminary results at the career assistant’s meeting this week and asked for additional recommendations on how to market this software.  I should be able to complete this by Monday.

·         A career counselor and I are responsible for suggesting changes in the Parent section of the Career Services website that is in the process of major re-construction.  He and I met last Wednesday and I needed to put our recommendations on paper in a format that makes sense.

·         I’ve been given the task of writing an article on networking for the Parents’ e-newsletter that is going out on Wednesday.  This shouldn’t be too difficult, but I need to be able provide some practical information for parents to talk about with their sons and daughters.

·         I’m in the process of compiling my own professional portfolio to use an example for a workshop I’m giving Wednesday evening.  I attended a session on portfolios while at the ACPA convention in Boston two weeks ago and wanted to pass this on to our students.  So, I am putting together a PowerPoint presentation for that workshop.

·         I also finished the summary of my ACPA experience in Boston for the Director of Career Services.

When these four items are completed, I will need to turn my attention to my research/poster presentation which will need to be completed for our Spring Showcase on April 23rd.

Just four more weeks…

Entry 4

The last two weeks have been different and exciting for me.

Two weeks ago I saw a number of students for resume and cover letter critiques and Strong Interest Inventory interpretations.  On Thursday of that week I assisted the staff and student workers with an event called Grad Finale.  At this event, tables are set up where students visit with the various offices and companies to make sure they have everything they need to graduate.  Career Services had a table where we promoted some upcoming events (i.e. Job searching in a tough economy) and encouraged them to create a profile on Linkedin, the professional networking website.  It was a mad rush at times, but it was good to connect with these soon-to-be graduating students. 

On Wednesday of that week I attended a workshop on diversity titled: "Diversity and Cultural Competence".  The presenter, David Hunt, JD was very good – challenging and encouraging us to never stop learning to be culturally competent professionals.

Last week I attended the ACPA conference in Boston.  This is the annual convention of college personnel administrators – the professional organization of most of my colleagues in higher education.  I arrived on Friday afternoon, the day before workshops began. It’s difficult to summarize all the things I experienced there, but suffice it to say…it was the best professional conference I ever attended.  I have attended numerous insurance industry conventions during the course of my 25 plus years in that business.  And I always felt like a fish out of water.  With the ACPA folks, I felt right at home.  They are my kind of people who are in the business not for the money, but for the purpose of working with and advising college students!  It was so affirming knowing I was with people who are as passionate in their fields as I am!  I attended over 15 separate workshops over the three plus days of the conference.  I made so many good connections with people in higher education and, in particular, with college career counselors.  I found that although there are few if any positions open for career counselors in Minnesota, there are more than a few out of state.  I will be applying to some to these positions in the next two to three weeks.

The ACPA convention including the registration, flight, and my portion of the hotel in Boston was provided to me from my internship site.  What a wonderful perk of my internship.  Thank you!!

Yesterday I attended the Minnesota College & University Career Services Association (MCUSA) which was another opportunity to network with career services professionals.

This weekend I’ve been working almost nonstop on my comps – six questions out of nine done as of 9 a.m. this morning!! 

Entry 3

Last week was one of the slowest weeks I’ve had at my internship since I started last August and it was just as well because I came down with a whopper of a cold and wasn’t feeling very good until Friday.

I spent quite a bit of time last week researching career services’ websites for our joint department meeting this morning (Monday).  My responsibility was to specifically research the "Parent" links on various websites to see what information we could use for the college’s updated website.  I wish I was more adept at the technology of it all.  I know how to get around on the internet, but I’m still a novice on some of the software applications, mainly Excel.  This is a goal of mine before I land a job:  take training in Excel!

My supervisor was gone on vacation last week which made for a different week.  I was able to connect with the student workers and other staff members which I enjoy very much.  I also was able to research and create application portfolios for two positions I’m applying to this week.  In my internship, I have been doing everything that the full-time paid professional career counselors have from Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Brigs interpretation, leading workshops, critiquing resumes and cover letters, etc. – and doing it quite well if I say so myself!

I’ve been working Thursdays at the other school which has been good.  Working with a whole different batch of students and with a different staff.  I’m not quite as comfortable in this setting yet, but it’s getting easier.  For the most part, I like the student workers at this institution – they are warm and welcoming.

As I start to wind down my internship and approach graduation in May, I am looking forward so much to embarking on this new endeavor of college career counseling.  And the college or university that hires me will be very lucky!

Entry 2

I returned from a week in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. with four college students as part of an alternative break experience.  This opportunity gave me valuable insights into the lives of my demographic – college-age students.  This is what I will reflect on for this blog.

We drove to and from the Jonah House, Baltimore, MD which provided us the opportunity to get to know one another.  I was a little nervous as we started out as we hadn’t spent much time before the car ride getting to know one another.  However, with the direction of our two student leaders, we quickly bonded and got into some wonderful conversations.  I did most of the driving as I was the only participant over the age of 24, one of the requirements for renting a vehicle.  We left town at 5:30 PM and spent the first night at a hotel outside Madison, WI.  Thankfully, no one snored!  We got on the road the next day at 8 a.m. which meant for a long day of driving.

We hit some winter weather and road construction driving through the Alleghany Mountains in Pennsylvania which brought us to Baltimore and the Jonah House at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 28.  The four residents along with another volunteer were all awake and welcomed us warmly.  The four students, two female and two male, were assigned two rooms while I got my own.  The next morning was when we really started to get into the purpose for our trip.

The Jonah House is a place of contemplation and action.  The four women who live there have dedicated their lives to social justice and nonviolence issues.  All of them have been arrested numerous times protesting the injustices they see in America from the obscene spending of our military industrial complex to the neglect of the poor.  All of them are felons which means they cannot vote, but they do more for consciousness raising than anyone else I know who has the privilege to vote!

Our days started with breakfast, a time for reflection, and then instruction.  Each of the women took turns teaching on various subjects:  the myth of redemptive violence, nuclear weapons, the philosophy of community, and nonviolent protests.  After each morning session, we were assigned various tasks.  I spent most of these morning and afternoon work sessions outside clearing the woods of dead trees.  Jonah House sits on 21 acres in the poorest sections of Baltimore.  It’s been in existence since 1973, but in 1995 they moved from their rented row house into a new house built by their own and volunteer hands next to a neglected cemetery owned by the arch diocese of Baltimore who give them a small stipend to take care of the cemetery.  They own a llama ("Micah"), two donkeys ("Paz" and "Vinny"), and a flock of guinea fowl.  All these animals have a purpose.  The four legged animals keep the grass down while the birds help with tick and mosquito control!

There’s so much I could share about this life-changing week with these four wonderful women, but in order to keep this blog within the set parameters I will end with this thought:  live simply, intentionally, and with purpose as we all share this one, fragile planet which is regrettably threatened by the poverty, nuclear weapons, climate change and other issues which all can be rectified by the travelers on this planet.

Introduction/Entry 1

Tomorrow I start my fourth week of my internship this semester and I have to say it’s been everything I hoped for and more!  I work in the career services office of a university in central Minnesota and love it!  For as long as I can remember I haven’t had a job when arriving home I’m totally exhausted and at the same time feel a complete sense of fulfillment and purpose.

I have been at this site since the end of August.  I applied for this internship along with one other in a different university career services office.  I was offered an internship at both universities, but chose this one because its environment and liberal arts tradition aligned more closely with my philosophy.

I submitted a resume, cover letter, and three letters of recommendation for both positions.  Even though these were unpaid positions I spent quite a bit of time writing and editing these "marketing" pieces.  I wanted so much to be considered as a candidate for both sites.  Each site conducted a formal interview and I approached each with that same attitude.  I wore a shirt, tie, and a nice pair of pants, arriving in plenty of time.  I believe I prepared fairly well for these interviews, but looking back, I’m sure I could have been even more prepared.  After each interview, I sent a "thank you" card through the Post Office the next day, thanking them for the opportunity to interview and reaffirming my interest in the position.

Although I know I made the correct decision on my internship site, it was difficult to say "no thank you" to the one I decided against.  I didn’t want to burn any bridges – I may be applying for a position there after I graduate or years from now.  However, I think they understood my decision.  I have ran into a few of their professional staff since and there seems to be no ill effects from my decision.

I knew I wanted an internship at a college career services center and I had a cohort member working at each of these sites the year before I was to start.  In January I started asking each of them questions about their internships, starting the networking process early!  I actually paid a visit to the site of my future internship for a class project so that they would hopefully remember me when the time came to apply.

My decision to elect this site has been confirmed over and over since August!



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