One SAHE professional's take on the trends and timely topics at the heart of Student Affairs.
This was me this morning. The ticket machine wasn’t reading my card and the train was right behind me, filling up with passengers. Just as it pulled away the machine registered my card. Whatever, Charlie card machine. Whatever.
When I opened up LinkedIn today, I saw this as a top post. Just yesterday I was reading The Chronicle of Higher Education and was appalled at the comments following the articles. My learned colleagues and academicians had left some of the most sarcastic, borderline bullying comments that attacked each other. I was shocked! I would expect these comments on YouTube, for example, but I expect more from my community in Higher Education.
I would have thought the comments section on the Chronicle would be a place for us, well educated educators, to have meaningful dialogue and learn from each other. As I was reading some really nasty comments I couldn’t help but think- would you have said those same comments if we were all face to face?
Check it out! Have you ever experience digital bullying? Leave a comment on LinkedIn to join the conversation:
I’ve just come back to work after roughly four days at Interfaith Youth Core’s (IFYC) Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) at DePaul University in Chicago. What an amazing experience! We spent a lot of time talking about the Better Together campaign, a movement happening across our nation that truly believes in the power of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in creating real change in our world. I have come away with a lot of ideas, skills to make these ideas a reality and- perhaps most profoundly- a better understanding of who I am and what I really believe. (Something important I should mention early is the value Better Together places on all voices being a part of the conversation, even Atheist, Seeker and Agnostic voices. Personally, I am a someone without a faith affiliation and was very open about this at the conference. No one questioned this decision, asked me why I was at ILI or told me I didn’t belong. I had a seat that the table and my voice was welcomed and valued.)
Part of the conference included a workshop on how important it is to tell our stories- something I have believed to be immensely valuable for some time now. They encouraged us to develop our stories and connect them with why we believe interfaith dialogue is important. By sharing these stories, we would be better poised to make connections around the idea of interfaith cooperation and encourage the Better Together movement forward.
So here it is, my story.
To start, I am a person with a lot of privilege. I’m a white, cisgender woman from the middle class. I am currently able bodied, well-educated and an American citizen. I am queer (and proud) but in a relationship with a man, so am externally labeled as straight. I do not affiliate with a religion, thus wear no external religious identifiers. Aside from my master’s degree, I didn’t do anything to receive these identities, I just got lucky. I like to put all this out there from the beginning so the conversation I have from here can be authentic and you can better understand the lens through which I see interfaith work and the following story.
In graduate school, we were asked to do a project where we were to experience difference in some way. We were given examples such as attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting though we aren’t alcoholics, wearing earplugs to understand hearing impairments or live for a week on only $7 a day. Some of my cohort-mates and I struggled deeply with this assignment for a number of reasons. I did not feel as though it was an authentic experience since I do not hold identities that correspond with these differences- i.e. the knowledge that at the end of the project, I could take the ear plugs out makes it so I don’t experience hearing impairment fully. I also felt as though I would be violating others’ identities- i.e. invading the safe space set up at AA meetings felt unethical and offensive. As a person with as much privilege as I had, I could follow through with any of the examples as they were given without causing damage to my community.
After some intense personal reflection, I decided the only way I could even begin to understand difference is to ask different people about their lives- to tell me their story. I asked them to tell me their about identities and points in their lives when these identities held a lot of salience for them. This project was an incredibly powerful learning experience for me. The stories I collected taught me a lot about humanity and inspired my work in student affairs. I believe that interfaith dialogue, and even more broadly inter-identity dialogue, can have a similar impact on anyone who participates. Once you have a relationship with someone, it becomes much more difficult to “other-ize” their identities and easier to see their community as part of your own. In a world where religious intolerance and hate are unfortunately a part of society, I believe interfaith dialogue is crucial for the survival of our collective humanity.
Do you think interfaith discussion is important? How could it impact your work in student affairs?
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”
Working at the Illinois Institute of Technology has provided me with a very unique experience from any employment I have had before. If you are unaware, IIT (not ITT) is a small, private technical institution on the South side of Chicago. Forty percent of the 7,787 currently admitted, predominantly male student population are from a country outside the United States. The academic programs at IIT are extremely competitive and the students are very intelligent (Nearly half of the 2011-2012 first-year class were in the top 10% of their high school class.)
One of the biggest challenges I face in developing relationships with IIT students is understanding their field of study. My background is in Music Education and Student Affairs and Higher Education, so when I ask a Physics student about their final projects, I am pretty much lost from word one.
Now, I recognize that since IIT is a technical school I am somewhat of an outsider, and I should be educating myself about the students I serve- I get that. But- when it comes to reporting research to future employers, shareholders, the media or even their families, there is a chance these “outsiders” may be as lost as I am. As eager as students may be to talk about their work, sometimes it just doesn’t translate.
The featured article today is about the importance of working with future scientists to develop the broader communication skills to help them be successful, make their research more relevant to lay people like me and to make them more well-rounded graduates.
What are your thoughts and/or experiences with future scientists?
As many of us know, we are in the middle of Student Affairs job search season! This is an exciting time full of placement exchanges, networking at conferences, on campus interviews and writing the perfect thank you notes to practically every person you talk to. While a lot of advice is out there about how to be successful in your job search- writing a stellar resume, interview tips, how to dress for the job you want, etc.- there is less advice about a situation that will most likely happen to every one of us: how to handle not getting the job you want.
It can be such a let down, right? Feeling your hot-air balloon of excitement deflate while all the plans you were making in your head get washed away. Maybe you were researching apartments near dog parks or good places to get sushi near your workplace and now it seems all for nothing. It’s such a tough place to be. How do we get through it?
The following are the highlights of the best advice I’ve received from colleagues, mentors, family and friends about how to handle rejection from what seemed like the perfect job.
- It’s not you, it’s them. In a lot of cases, you may have done everything right. You might have every qualification they ask for, answered all their interview questions well, and sent thank you notes to all the right people and still weren’t offered the job. In this case, it’s truly not you— it’s them. Oftentimes employers have more candidates than they know what to do with, making the candidate pool extremely competitive. They need to hire people who will serve their community well, compliment the current staff team and bring new and ideas to the institution. You can’t always take it personally.
- Use this as an opportunity for growth. Reach out to the people who interviewed you to see if they would be willing to provide you with feedback about your interview performance. They may be able to provide tips for how improve the way you interview.
- It wasn’t meant to be, so move on. Seriously, that’s the bottom line. You didn’t get this job so reach out to the employers for feedback about your interview performance, use it to become a better candidate and then- move on. It doesn’t help to keep repeating “That job was perfect for me!” because a. no it wasn’t— if it was, you would have gotten it and b. that prevents you from seeing other opportunities out there that WILL be perfect for you. So move on.
- Remember- You are capable, competent and confident… so prove it. In the end, it is up to you how you respond to rejection. You can let it pull you down, convince yourself you aren’t meant to be in this field and start applying for jobs at coffee shops (I’ve been there!) Or, you can keep reminding yourself of your unique strengths, skills and talents because only you have them. Tell yourself there will be other ‘perfect’ jobs out there and keep looking until you find them. You have an impact to make, so go out there and prove it.
What other advice do you have for your colleagues who have been rejected from their ‘dream’ job?