When I was in college I decided on a career in advertising and marketing. My plan was to create ads that were enticing, exciting, and interesting. However, once I came to the conclusion that I neither liked the idea of the career as much as I initially thought nor was I particularly talented at creating advertisements, I had to reboot.
After really thinking about what I liked about college, I figured out that I was suited for a career in higher education, as the environment and field matched my abilities much better. I went to graduate school for a degree in higher education and student affairs, and upon graduation, started working in Residence Life. I managed an apartment complex; supervised Resident Assistants; handled judicial situations; and coordinated events and programs. Though I liked my job, I also knew I did not want to stay in Residential Life longterm, so I started to imagine what other realms existed in Higher Education that would make sense for me to consider.
- The first step I took to setting myself up for a new role was to do research. I determined I wanted to shift to Student Activities, which incorporated my ability to plan and organize, integrated my interest with the arts and creative outlets, and involved advising and supervising. I conducted informal, informational interviews with Student Activities staff to understand what the job actually entailed and to see if was I a good fit for the work.
- Next, I took on some roles at the college, that were outside of Residence Life. Though not paid extra, I helped out a student government committee and volunteered for some Student Activities events. That exposure showed the Student Activities staff at the college where I worked, that I had some needed transferable skills.
- Once I established myself as a legitimate, viable and reliable person, I internedat the Student Activities Office for a summer. Even though I was a full-time employee at that school, I was able to take some vacation time in the summer and use it for personal purposes related to my career. This experience gave me résumé content and references.
- I also became very involved in professional associationsthat were about Student Affairs and Higher Education, which encompassed Student Activities; I did not focus these energies into a Residence Life only organization. I joined committees, attended presentations at conferences that were about student activities roles, and began to infiltrate the field. This process took about two years.
- Four years after starting my first job, I took a new one at a different type of college, in Student Activities. Having the internship and the ability to demonstrate my transferable skills definitely helped me be selected.
What can you do, if you want to develop some new skills after you graduate?
Once you are in a job for about a year, you can start making subtle inquiries about opportunities outside of your day-to-day tasks.
- You can sign up for a class – with the internet, there are many online and free options to study a new language, a computer program, or some other topic that has always appealed to you.
- Volunteering for a cause you believe in may inspire you to tackle a project that would otherwise not interest you.
- Reconnect with friends, teachers, advisors, etc. from UConn to see if they know if any people you can meet who may offer insight into your situation.
Bottom line – if you don’t want to stagnate, make your personal growth a priority.