This morning, I spoke with the father of one of my roommates. He told me about how he is embarking on a change in his career so, not surprisingly, we started to talk about his next steps and I went into counselor mode for a bit. Of course, I do not mind doing this at all and have, in fact, found that I do this more than I realize. It has become or (maybe has always been) a natural part of who I am. One line of the conversation led to another and as we spoke I noticed how my resourcefulness and willingness to listen opened his eyes to possibilities. Our conversation seemed to be allowing him to give himself permission to do what he thought he’d like to do and also “talk it out” to someone who doesn’t really know him from Adam.
Let’s move back to about two weeks ago. I am sitting in my “dining room” with two of my housemates. We are eating dinner and begin to discuss my profession. “What is it that you really do?” one of them asks. I begin to describe how I meet with individual students to help guide them to next steps in their career paths and shared a little bit more about my philosophy and intention when working one-on-one with students. It flowed naturally off my tongue (I secretly rejoiced to myself that I am legitimately a student affairs professional with a “slight” expertise in career counseling). To my surprise and disappointment, both of my housemates said that their experiences with their Career Centers were nothing like that. They felt like the professionals who helped them were not as in tune to their needs at the time or as helpful in moving them forward. Of course, I was disappointed in those professionals but this conversation also reinforced my drive and motivation to continue doing this work the way I want to do it.
Finally, only one week ago, I was on a hike with some of my new friends and one asked me what I do again. His reaction to my profession was characterized as both humorous and intriguing. I come to find out that both he and our other friend also had negative experiences with their career counselors! Again, two more disappointments. This fueled them to ask me many questions about what I actually do and so I offered to describe how I approach appointments with students and even gave out more free career advice. Again, I do not mind doing this but not let’s take a look back at all three of these separate but related incidences over the last month.
First, I am new to the area. So naturally people are asking me questions related to who I am, what do I do and then forming opinions about the type of person I am, etc. Never before has my work/profession led individuals to the opinion they form about me. The discussion I had with the individuals on the hike led me to wonder how many individuals truly feel lost leaving college because they had a bad encounter with a career professional. What are we going to do to address this? Is this why student affairs with a concentration in counseling programs, like the one I attended, are so critical to successful customer service in the functional areas like career that require such skills? I would love to hear from those individuals who have had negative experiences to see if there are patterns in their testimonials, etc. The conversation I had with my roommates started as a get to know how you are kind of chat, which led to the opportunity for me to educate others about the legitimacy and professionalism of my field. Most if not all individuals know that people can make working in a colleges a profession but many others do not know that their is training in student development theory and counseling techniques that provide us with the tools necessary to be successful in our professions. This misconception may stem from these negative experiences felt at their undergraduate institutions.
In my first anecdote, the conversation with my roommate’s father ended because I needed to finish getting ready for work, but before I left the room, he thanked me profusely and then stated that so many of use are preoccupied with the scarcity that seems to characterize our world. He said that we should be reminded of how abundant life truly is and cherish it for that. And it was because of the conversation he had with me today, he was reminded of the abundance that does exists in this world. I had to stop myself from tearing up with joy, pride, and honor. I was so touched by his comment and am now still as I write this. Some people just come into your world and remind you why you do what you do and how good you actually are doing it. He also said that my parents must be proud of me– they raised me so really and truly I am proud of them for their dedication to my life. I cannot help but think– What a way to start a day!
I recently joined StumbleUpon and today’s stumbleupon website was this: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/8YZSE0/www.highexistence.com/life-secrets-and-tips/comment-page-1. Visit it and see how delightfully well it connects with my roommate’s father’s comment on the abundances that life provides us.
Til next time….