A New Term: The Promise

It is week 2 of 13 at work and it is filled with new faces, new courses, and lots of promise. I did something a little different last week during one of my lectures. I spent a good chunk talking about my expectations, good habits, things to avoid, and reminded my students to get involved. These points speak to the Fall term at university. I want big things for this term.

The reminder is also important for me. I am in my 17th year of teaching and this means that I am comfortable with my job. Comfort is great and has some pitfalls. I must remember that this new environment is filled with its own jargon and the new students are just figuring out the place–let alone my expectations on the first or second day. As I walked to the lecture hall last week, I had that bounce in my step and I was excited. It was great to see the new group. Welcome to campus, and welcome to my classroom. I know that this particular class is different, as it is team taught.

When I walk into the classroom, I think about my job and how important it is for the students. It is privilege to have an important part in their education. But, as I told them, they need to show up. They need to own their education. I am looking forward to this term. And, I really hope that my students are, too. I’m raising my coffee to my students. Rock this term!

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11 Months Later: Revisiting the Life List

I decided to revisit this great exercise from one of the BlogHer 2011 pre-sessions.What do I think differently after this last year. I was reappointed unanimously by my colleagues, applied for an Associate Deanship and was shortlisted, didn’t get the job, had surgery, and then had a pretty rough term. The second term caused me to re-evaluate my priorities. Numbers 16-19 are new and I used a / to add to an original thought.

Life List exercise at the afternoon session for “My Blog as a Life Changer” was hard to do. Here is my first stab and again, unedited.  Try out the exercise. It’s fun.

  1. Go to Hawaii with Jason and both girls / See my family more. More quality time with them at home.
  2. See my family of origin more than one time per year. / Yes, see them more.
  3. Publish my books / I’m working on this and progress has been made.
  4. Get tenure / I was re-appointed, so step one is confirmed.
  5. Continue to Mentor / Ongoing
  6. Continue to Teach / Ongoing
  7. Learn French / I’ve heard more and have attempted to speak some. Does that count?
  8. Start a Women and Politics Center on campus / Oh, long term goal.
  9. Take kids to Grand Canyon and DC / Long term
  10. Work on either a Congressional , Senatorial or Presidential campaign / Long term
  11. Learn how to golf / Started learning in May!
  12. Spend time with friends in the US and elsewhere / Did some in March–ongoing want.
  13. Take kids to Europe / Long term goal
  14. Go to Harry Potter Theme Park / Long term goal
  15. Use sabbatical to attend conferences / To write book and to visit teen in university
  16. New to the list–take better care to relax. I am powering off my phone more and trying to not work for an hour or more every night. Balance
  17. Remember to schedule time for me and Jason
  18. Exercise as part of my daily routine
  19. Return to the life list once a year!

Career Advice for Advanced Undergrads

You’re in your last year of university and getting nervous as the school year starts, hits the half way point or is ending. But, for the sake of ease, let’s pretend it’s mid-way through your last year of university. I’m going to make some suggestions for you. And, these are my opinions alone and not endorsed by my employer. This advice comes from my university experience, 14 years of teaching, and years of advising unofficially and officially.

1. Get yourself to the Career Center or the Career offices. Your campus should have an office with extremely competent staff who are there to help you. But, understand that they aren’t there to help you get a job, rather they are there to give you the skills so that you get yourself that job. They will empower you, but it’s all about your own skills and your own file.

2. Speak with your departments Undergraduate Advisor. Believe it or not, s/he might have some good advice to give you. The advisor might know of additional job boards in your area of interest. See if this person is willing to review a cover letter or your resume. If they are not–don’t get offended–go back to number one and ask for help at the Career Services office.

3. Speak to trusted peers who are in your situation or who have recently graduated. Your peers are a useful resource, too.

4. Confer with other faculty or mentors that you have in the campus community or community at large. Now is not the time to feel shy. You have to reach out and make some effort.

5. If it works for your field (and which fields does it not work for?) get on social media. Yes, join Linked in and establish your profile there and meet others on the platform. Ask people questions—especially those in the industry that you’re interested in.

6. Are you blogging or on Twitter? Will these platforms be useful for you? If so, then do it. But, always be very careful with your digital footprint. Google yourself and see what is out there. That photo of you in residence engaging in naked beer sliding—might need to be deleted! OK, you really don’t have compromising photos, but do take a look and see what photos and status updates you’ve had so that you won’t have a future employer “creep” and find something that they don’t like.

Particular to Victoria, I suggest to students that they not only look at the local job boards (BC Public Service, municipality job boards, and UVIC’s U-Hire, but also VIATEC’s. You never know what you might find in many of these. I also explain to students that they most likely won’t get hired right out of their undergrad as a senior policy analyst. The truth is that you’re going to have to work your way up and this might mean that you’re working in a position that requires data entry, filing, and “gofer” work. You have to cut your teeth in a job and be prepared for this.

If you’re interested in working in Victoria, I suggest that you keep abreast of when there are Chamber of Commerce events (Victoria or Westshore) and attend some of the events to network and meet local members. Note that members of this organization aren’t only local business owners, but government types, elected officials, and just regular people who are interested in the community. Also, attend other local events and get to know the community. This might mean registering with Meet Up and looking for events that will allow you to meet other like minded people. The thought of doing this might make you feel uncomfortable, but you need to get out and meet more people and realize that the limited discomfort can pay off with a mentor, community building, contacts, and possibly a job connection.

I have seen students take 4-8 months to find work after they graduate and this is pretty common. The students who are willing to take risks or start at the entry level position are the ones who have been the most successful. What are you doing to do?

Rehashing Reverb: 2012

I’m shamelessly borrowing the theme for this post from the University of Venus and the #Reverb11 theme for December 29th that was about Habits and 12 things your life doesn’t need in 2012. I’ll amend it and speak to less than that for the post. At first it seems very easy to think of 10-12 things that you don’t need in your life—bills, debt, and perhaps grumpy people. But, when you sit back and think more thoughtfully, you take stock of what you want and don’t want in your life.

1. I don’t want so many excuses. It gets really frustrating to hear excuses. Own your education, your job, and your life. You do have some control. Particular to students, once you graduate most of you will look back at your 5.1 years as an undergraduate and think about how lucky you were. Yes, you will, and some of you email me or send Facebook messages August- November wishing that you were back in school. You wish that you could go back and try harder or spend more time on that one assignment. To this I say, own it. Own your responsibility. For people who aren’t students this also applies. Before you say, I can’t—think about why you can’t. What is your motivation or lack thereof. What is holding you back?

2. I don’t want to complain about the weather—so I won’t. I spent 2010 and 2011 taking special care to not complain about the weather as much as I used to and I’ve even attempted to embrace it. This is hard, as I fully admit to being a weather princess. I grew up used to Spring and Summer and now in the Pacific Northwest I get four seasons. OK, I don’t get the Winters that Alberta, Manitoba and most other provinces get, but I still get colder weather than I’ll ever become accustomed to. So, I endeavor to complain less!

3. I don’t want negative energy in my life and this includes tightening the inner circle of good friends. I’ve come to realize that I have had a few friends in my life who really thrive on the negative and are passive aggressive. I’ve tried to walk away and limit my time around these people, as I notice that I leave a coffee date thinking about some petty comment. I don’t have time for the negative energy and will protect my time more so in 2012.

4. I don’t want to feel bad about working lots, but need to balance this with more quality time with my family. I need to work smarter and as soon as I figure this out successfully I’ll sell the secret! Seriously, since I live my life term to term, my schedule fluctuates. I need to have better control of the schedule, but also admit that I do need two long days of work or else I have to work on the weekend. Whoever thinks that academics work a 40 hour work week should shadow me or my countless colleagues across campus.

I do think that four things complete my list for now. I’ll keep you posted about how I work on these points. I have control over all of them—my reaction. I’ll have to remember that!