Last year around this time I had an eye twitch. I was under the gun to complete my thesis, and was probably behind on some deadlines. For work I was teaching an undergrad class AND single-handedly administrating the American and Florida Studies program, as the director had retired and I was the most invested grad student at the time. On top of all that, I had somehow volunteered to take on the advising of the ~30 American Studies undergrads. For the first time in my life, I was entirely overwhelmed with the magnitude of responsibilities I had taken on.
Aside from the pressures of my coursework and teaching, I was anxiously waiting to hear back from the 5 PhD programs I had applied to. Wifey and I were on the edge of our seats, ready to move to New York, Texas or Boston depending on which letters came back. A few weeks into March, I got word back from my applications – 5 “no’s” in a row. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and immediately my post-grad plan was thrown out the window. I was unsure of what applicable “work” skills I had after 6 years of writing papers on cultural theory, and despite my enthusiasm for the American Studies program I knew I couldn’t stay there part time.
I spent the summer working as a temp receptionist for a medical supply office here in Tallahassee, and did my best to not get to down about having an unmarketable Masters degree with seemingly abstract skills. It was a long summer. Then, I got the call. There was a position open as an academic advisor at my alma mater that I had applied for and totally forgotten. My brief stint as advisor in American Studies must have caught their attention. I had never even imagined an actual job at the university that wasn’t a professorship, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Turns out there are a million little offices that make the university function as a business in addition to academic institution. Who knew?!?
I begun in early August with 2 full weeks of training and was placed in the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance, an area I knew little to nothing about. But one thing was sure of, I was excited and grateful to have a job at all, and I was going to do my best. I dove in headfirst and would like to think that I have done pretty well advising Theatre and Art History students, helping them navigate university policies and college life. In my second semester now, I am starting to get the hang of things, and really enjoying working in student services.
The moral of the story? You never know where you’ll end up, what you will be good at, or how your path through various jobs can affect your interests differently than you thought. One thing I advise my students is to take every opportunity that presents itself and mold it into your goals. So, I may not always be an academic advisor, but for now I am doing my best and trying to make the position my own. In fact, as I am interested in social media/blogging/ect, I am in the process of proposing an Advising 2.0 strategy to my bosses. Who knows? I could end up being a big time social media consultant for Higher Education someday! (Gotta beef up that resume with “go get ’em” projects, right?)
To seniors who are about to enter the work world: keep your eyes open. The opportunity might not look like you expected, but you will have the chance to start somewhere and get a feel for the amazing amount of options out there. How many people actually go into a job that directly relates to their major right away anyhow? (Pretty sure Lauren Novo will! ;))