It has been 21 months since I last wrote on here. Typically, I’d say that life got busy, but it was more than that. Since my last post, I went through multiple transitions in life. I was working so hard to adapt to changes that writing a blog could no longer be a priority.
Within seven months, I got one promotion and then another promotion at work. This was lovely, but it also meant more hours in the office. Around the same time that I got the first promotion, I started volunteering as a hotline counselor for a rape crisis center. For a long time, I had a passion to end sexual violence, but I had not engaged in formal advocacy work related to it. The idea of volunteering for a crisis center excited me, but it also intimidated me. 2015 was the year I garnered the courage to apply to the rape crisis center and see where the volunteer journey would take me.
Two months after my second promotion, I found out that the financial stability of my organization was uncertain. There would be potential cuts on my team, but nobody was sure how deep the cuts would be. When I learned this, I recalled a job posting I had seen on a listserv for alumni of my master’s program in higher education. I actually was acquaintances with the alumna who posted the job so I contacted her for an informational interview about her department. I applied, and two months later I started working in my current position as a career counselor in a college.
I can’t believe that I’m finally working in a career center in higher education. As you may recall, I worked for an American Job Center a few years ago. I could have worked there forever, but a paucity of government funds for my center compelled me and all of my other colleagues to search elsewhere for gainful employment. I left the American Job Center for a more stable job at a university, but it meant I had to step away from career services.
A couple years later, I ended up where I wanted to be. Being a career counselor at a college allows me to combine my interests in career services and higher education.
Now that my students’ finals are over, my first academic year at my current job is complete. I sent my last newsletter of the year to them, and this was my parting piece of advice for the summer:
SELF-ASSESSMENT + SELF-ADVOCACY = SELF–ACTUALIZATION
You all have had and will continue to have educational moments during your college years. These moments could be in the classroom, the laboratory, the field, or another setting beyond your formal education. Intentionally create time to do the following:
- Self-Assessment: What are your values, skills, interests, and experiences? How are your education, family, culture, society, and other factors influencing these components of your life and yourself? How do these components impact your career goals?
- Self-Advocacy: Assessing yourself builds the foundation upon which you will advocate for yourself. As you seek new academic and career opportunities, prospective employers will ask you why you are a good fit for your desired position. The strongest self-advocates have done the most thoughtful assessments of themselves prior to those interviews.
- Self–Actualization: If you honestly assess yourself and advocate for yourself, there is a stronger likelihood that you will reach higher stages of self–actualization. It might not look like how you initially envisioned, but you will become a more self-actualized individual than what you were before.
When I wrote this, I was intentional about using the term self-actualization. My institution is highly selective, and with that is pressure for students to attain success. However, chasing success does not always mean pursuing satisfaction.
For this reason, I challenge others and myself not to settle for success. Success is measured by external markers, but self-actualization forces people to reflect on their internal world. I’m not shaming people for having ambition. I’m simply asking them examine how their ambition meets their needs as a human.