The Student Affairs Collective #SAVolunteers – The Secret Lives of Student Affairs Professionals – The Student Affairs Collective

In this time of giving, many people think of the needs of others and decide to volunteer at a food pantry, or with the elderly or children in need. Some people volunteer at specific times of the year, like during the holidays; others volunteer year-round with various organizations. Volunteering is a noble activity–giving of your time, energy, knowledge and skills to benefit others with no expectation of receiving back anything but a “Thank you” and a good feeling.  Yet, many volunteers DO expect something more, whether it’s professional connections, skills development, a sense of superiority, or something else entirely.

Continue reading at: The Student Affairs Collective #SAVolunteers – The Secret Lives of Student Affairs Professionals – The Student Affairs Collective

#SAFirstJobs–“Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. | This Side of Theory”

This has been the hardest contribution to a blog series I’ve written

July 21, 2011

“Yes, I’ll gladly accept the position, thank you so much for your consideration.”

“Start date? Well, my mother died 2 days ago…thank you…so I know that they want me to start ASAP, but I need some time to…yes, thank you…I can’t do anything before August 1. Thank you for your kindness, yes, I’ll be in touch with the department.”

Continue reading at: Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. | This Side of TheoryThis Side of Theory.

#SAReflects–“Embracing the Wind”

One last re-blog from The Student Affairs Collaborative. This was my first contribution, reflecting on 2014.

To many people looking at the story of my life, 2014 wasn’t a phenomenally significant year—I didn’t move to a new institution; no changes occurred within the Registrar’s Office, or even at UMass Boston for that matter; my involvement in professional organizations maintains the status quo. Even my personal life has been fairly consistent.

Continue Reading at The Student Affairs Collective » #SAReflects Embracing the Wind.

#SACommits–“Recognizing Myself”

I’ve contributed another post to the Student Affairs Collective blog, this time as part of #SACommits: a project reducing the stigma of mental illness by talking about it.

In 1994, I was a high school Freshman. My arms and wrists were covered in scratches and small cuts. I was convinced the world would be better off without me. I just wanted to go away, be alone, and not bother or be bothered by other people.

Keep reading at The Student Affairs Collective » #SACommits – Recognizing Myself.

With a Little Bit of Help from my Network

Only once have I left a job for another: my first job out of undergrad, and no one expected me to stay long. I was in that second job for almost 5 years before returning to school for my M.S. As of last Friday, I have successfully completed a job search that took up the better part of the past year; I start at UMASS – Boston in a few weeks as Graduation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.

As I looked for my new job, I happily tweaked and re-tweaked my resume for each application, excited to show how my tasks and projects fit my potential new role. Inevitably, my resume became good enough, and my heart sank as I came to the next stage: THE COVER LETTER (read that in a deep, doomy voice).

I loathe cover letters. Maybe it’s my J, but really, why isn’t my resume good enough? Alright, I get it, but not enough to be happy about it. For this latest search, I reached out to @ceciliah & @ammamarfo, 2 women I respect for their professionalism and writing abilities, and asked them to review my letter. This was much more nerve-wracking than one might think–I have trouble asking for help, and KNEW it was terrible, so I felt I was bothering both of these people I respect personally and professionally. Both were gracious and incredibly helpful however, and garnered these replied from me:

“It’s funny how, as I read your comments/edits, I kept saying ‘wow, why didn’t I think of that?'”

“I think I’m too close & dis-enchanted to really make it sound like this job was special, which in turn makes me seem unspecial”

Then, THE INTERVIEWS

I’m always terrified to interview. My wife wishes she could interview for me because I’m terrible at talking to new people and am downright horrific about tooting my own horn. Thankfully, right before I began the round of post-house purchasing interviews, I read the most amazing and important bog post by AnneMarie Klotz:  The Things We Do Not Say…and Why It Hurts Our Profession. The first half of her post: Nailed It thanks to my coaches. I’m sure AnneMarie would provide a lot of feedback and critique if I were to practice interview with her, but I dug deep and found my truths, which I think helped me land this job.

Why am I making this post, and linking to all of these women? Because it illustrates a few things:

  • A Network is important: and a network does not necessarily mean in person. Almost all interaction I have with Amma is virtual; I have never met Annemarie in my life (I have the benefit of [currently] working in the same office as Cecilia). Following people on Twitter, or reading their blogs can actually influence your life for the better. Sometimes the help is direct, sometimes indirect, but be open to learning something
  • Ask for help: I will always struggle with this, but this experience has made strides in reminding me how important it is to get others’ opinions and ideas. I have a lot of trouble with group projects and collaborations, but in the right instances and with the right people, magic can happen
  • BE YOU: I admitted my struggles in the job search department to these women, and they embraced me and lifted me up. That encouraged me to be forthcoming in my interviews with my real weaknesses not those I thought the interviewer wanted to hear.
  • Pay it back/forward: I’ve since helped 2 people with their resumes, have offered to serve as a reference to 2 others, and will do so again if/when the opportunity arises. Networking is a big struggle for me, but small gestures cultivate relationships and empower both the giver and receiver.

How has your network benefited you in ways you didn’t expect? Have you actually used and/or cultivated your network?

[AEP] Yahoo! Groups

Date Earned: April 9, 2013

Step(s) Completed (click badges to view pages):

ExploreY!Groups

Explore Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

CreateYahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

Create Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

  • Create an account (Yahoo! ID)
  • Browse
  • Search by keywords
  • Join a group . . . or three
  • Learn the group
  • Features
  • Your main screen
  • View groups
  • Controlling mail
  • More editing
  • Leaving a group
  • Group categories
  • Group settings
  • Security
  • Messages / mail
  • Files
  • Links
  • Database
  • Members
  • Calendar
  • Invite people

Before the days of Facebook and Google+, we had Yahoo! Groups to bring together large numbers of people with similar interests. The one aspect of my life I was (and still am) a heavy user of Y!Groups is my religious community. When you worship the gods of ancient Greece, it’s tough to find co-religionists at all, let alone near enough to commune with. Hence spending the last 10 years as a member of about 20 different groups as they rise and fall in popularity and the owners wax and wane with attentiveness.  I helped some friends create and run a group several years ago, and I’ve managed several larger groups that needed extra moderators. Girl Scouts have long been active with Y!Groups as well; volunteers share information and program ideas, provide virtual shoulders to cry on, and celebrate accomplishments for our girls and ourselves.

One of the most interesting things about Y!Groups that I don’t notice as much in Facebook Groups was the camaraderie and relationships developed. Maybe it’s because we weren’t keeping up with a dozen different social media sites, and had fewer ways communicate with each other (email lists and instant messenger, that was about it), we took more time to read and respond. Some of my Y!Groups have transitioned to Facebook, and it definitely has advantages (no need to trim posts of old content!, quicker response time), but I feel like, much of the time, there’s less depth to comments, and storing files/information is clunky (yup, that’s a technical term) at best.

One of the things my Y!Groups experience has given is an ability to focus on what is important to me. When I first started joining groups, I read everything, even the topics I wasn’t interested in just in case. I was afraid to miss out. Over time, the emails became too frequent and I skimmed titles/the first sentence or two to decide if it was pertinent. This greatly reduced my amount of stress about “keeping up” and allowed me to learn those things that mattered. This definitely laid a foundation for the increased use/frequency/overload of social media, and I am much more discerning about who/what I will follow, and HOW. Some things, like blogs, I won’t follow on Facebook/G+ because I’m not guaranteed to see those posts due to the algorithms or whatever–all blogs are in Feedly. Other people/products are well served through other platforms. Y!Groups was the only option for communicating with others on a larger scale for a long time, and it helped shaped how I consume the internet.

What I’ve Learned from Video Games

Image of the game cover

LEGO Lord of the Rings for Wii
Image from ToysRUs.com

*This post will have a bit of technical lingo, but it’s not important to be familiar with the video game in question to understand the post)

I’ve been playing LEGO Lord of the Rings (LLotR) off and on since Christmas, and am learning quite a few things from it (I have finished “story-mode” and am now in “free-play” trying to reach 100%). Please know that although I’ve never been much of a gamer, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure: by the time my brother died 5 years ago, he had 6 console video games (including the original Atari we got when Nintendo came out & a family friend upgraded) and 2 handhelds.

I’m not good at video games, especially the ones that need a lot of hand-eye coordination or the ability to remember/key long cheat codes  (think Mortal Kombat & Mario Brothers). I much prefer RPG-style games (Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 1 were my favorites as a kid). Playing LLotR is making me realize why I have never completed a video game in my life: I don’t level-up enough. LLotR doesn’t have leveling as one may understand it from other games; I can’t move to the next stage without completing the basics of the current level, but I don’t need to be a Level 52 with magic & weapons upgraded to 27 in order to defeat Sauron or anything like that. It takes TIME to level-up in video games, something I’m not always good at. I want to get to the end and to the next thing instead of the tedium of constantly battling the minor enemies to actually prepare myself for what’s next.

LLotR is also feeding into my One Word: Here. Now because there is a TON of quests, items to collect, and world to explore that it can’t be done all at once. To complete the Hobbiton area, I need to re-do Amon Hen, the Mines and Pelennor Fields–I need to focus (One Word 2012!) on the task at hand; I can’t be distracted by all the other quests and collectibles. I don’t exactly think outside the box all the time–when there’s a fallen bridge beside me, it’s not always my first nature to try smashing it to get the collectibles that are behind it, or to shoot randomly at different items on the off-chance they will drop something.

This brings me to my final video game lesson:  sometimes you need help, but don’t rely on it. One of my favorite things to do when my brother played Final Fantasy was reading the guide to help him out–I LOVED that thing, and am saddened there isn’t one for LLotR. I bookmarked an online wiki not long after I started playing however. This disappoints the perfectionist in me since I want to do it all myself, but I notice myself relying on it when I get just a little frustrated rather than using it only when I need just one…more…treasure…to reach 100% for a given level. It’s EASY to let someone else do the hard part and map it out–they are experts in their field for a reason, right?

It just might be more satisfying though to give it a go yourself; slowly, attentively, trying to smash apart everything made of LEGO pieces to see what’s hiding there.