Teaching Transition Strategies

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

A really neat component of this fellowship is the opportunity to teach! The Student Professional Development Center organizes a series of courses called Transition Strategies. The idea of these courses is to focus on topics that will help students be prepared for and navigate changes as they leave college and begin their next steps following graduation. Discussion themes range from financial literacy and preparing for certain career paths, to exploring personal strengths and how to create a positive social media presence. Amber, Danielle and I are all involved in teaching Transition Strategies courses and have the unique opportunity to build skills in lesson planning, preparing a syllabus, and co-teaching a course from start to finish. As an international career fellow, I work with a colleague, Bill Burress, in the Global Education Center to teach “Preparing to Go Global after Graduation.”

In meeting with senior students, many of the conversations that we have revolve around the idea of going abroad after graduation. For some that means finding a temporary post over the summer to allow for travel and an uncharted adventure, other times there may be a regional interest or cultural focus, sometimes students are working to jump start their careers in education, global health, or other fields – or all of the above!  There are many different ways to accomplish these goals including internships, full- and part-time work, volunteering, etc., and it can be challenging figure out what the right opportunity may be. Having been in their shoes, our aim for this course has been to help students understand the realities of going abroad following graduation, and to take a look at some of the different paths to get there, how to best prepare, and tools that will help them along the way.

As a quick side note, a number of times so far at Elon I have stopped and thought, “it would have been great to have a class like this in college”, or “I wish I had known about this resource”… and this is yet another example!

Throughout the semester we have worked to implement collaborative and dynamic exercises such as: sharing about and reflecting upon the students’ experiences abroad, creating position profiles based on a job that each student is interested in following graduation, and mock interviews with a guest interviewer in attendance that has experience in the student’s field of interest.  We have had great discussions throughout the course and it has been very rewarding to see students sort through the realities of next steps and take ownership of the professional development opportunities as they prepare for globally-oriented futures.

Both Bill and I had (have!) the travel bug ourselves and it has been a wonderful opportunity to share our experiences in hopes that others can learn from them. However, a not-so-secret, secret about teaching is that a great deal of the time it is the students who challenge and inspire the teacher… and that absolutely applies to this class.

While this semester is quickly coming to a close, we will continue to teach this Transition Strategies course throughout the winter and spring terms and it is always helpful to try news ideas. So, if you have any thoughts about topics, activities, and/or resources to include in the course, please do share them!

Cheers! 100+ Student Appointments!

By Career Advising Fellow, Danielle Golinski

It’s official! I have successfully surpassed my 100th tracked student appointment of my fellowship! Of course, this is a rough guesstimation as I have met with students in drop-ins, on the fly around campus, or presented to during the numerous classroom and organization presentations I have given. What a wonderful feeling it is. I knew that I would reach this point when I started my fellowship in July, but I would have no idea on what to expect between student appointment #1 and #100. Every single student at Elon continues to surprise and impress me with their engagements, passions, and sense of self and community. I have yet to experience tears during an appointment (I bet it’s just a matter of time), but I have seen light bulbs go off, choices decided, and internships applied to. I have had heart-to-hearts, shared personal experiences and journeys, and have experimented with various advising approaches. Not only am I using the first 100 student appointments to encourage students to develop themselves, I am also using the opportunities to discover and develop myself further as well. That is why I accepted the position to become a fellow, and that is why I wake up every morning with passion and zest, and stride into the Student Professional Development Center with confidence. There are days where I feel uncomfortable, anxious and unsure about how the day will go or what a presentation will turn out like, but that all supports me in my professional development.

The best moments so far of my fellowship occur when I meet with a student and I see them on my schedule again in another week or two. To me, it is a little gesture to show that they enjoyed their time speaking with me, that I was helpful, or (maybe even throwing in an ‘and’ into this sentence) that they want their resume looked over again for the next internship they are applying for. I’ll take one, or I’ll take all three!

The past three months of this fellowship can be wrapped up into these lyrics by one of my favorite country artists Keith Urban:

“Days go by
I can feel ‘em flying
Like a hand out the window in the wind as the cars go by
It’s all we’ve been given
So you better start livin’ right now
‘Cause days go by”

Here’s to the first 100 appointments, and here’s to many, many more to come. I wonder how many individualized student appointments I’ll reach over the course of the school year. 300? 400? I guess time (and CSO – our computerized software system) will tell!

Embrace the Interruptions

It is almost November, drawing closer to the mid-point of this fellowship, and we are in the thick of Fall semester.  As you can imagine, things have been pretty busy on campus.  Danielle, Kristen, and I work in the Student Professional Development Center, the Porter Family Professional Development Center, and the Global Education Center to ensure that we reach a wide range of students.  Between attending meetings, planning programs, assisting with office wide events, teaching Transition Strategies courses, taking student appointments, and giving presentations, our calendars stay full.

This fellowship has quickly taught me that if there is one characteristic that is necessary for success, it is the ability to be flexible.  Appointments are rescheduled, meetings run late, presentations pop up at the last minute, students need the few minutes of free time you have on your schedule and I have come to LOVE the challenge of it all!

If you know me at all, then you know I like making plans.  I love my color-coded schedule and I wouldn’t survive without it.  My Myers-Briggs type is ISFJ and my appreciation for all things planned, structured, and scheduled can be attributed to the “J,” which stands for judging.  But, we’ve learned that our Myers-Briggs results only mean that we have a preference for that type.  In other words, we lean towards the other type in certain situations.  This fellowship has taught me and continues to teach me the importance of adaptability and flexibility.

In my opinion, the importance of flexibility and adaptability is consistent in any position, industry, or field you are a part of or will one day be a part of.  Just this week, a colleague in our office had to take some time away.  As a result, Danielle had to unexpectedly take a trip to a conference with students. I’ve covered numerous student appointments, and Kristen volunteered for drop-in hours.  We are a team and we are flexible enough to cover things as needed.  This is what contributes to our success as an office.  We do what we have to do to ensure we meet the needs of our students because they are a priority.

I have learned to embrace the changes, interruptions, and last minute switch ups and I encourage you to do the same!  Sometimes those moments unexpectedly make up the most meaningful part of your day!

Reflecting on Feedback

By Career Advising Fellow, Danielle Golinski

Big things are happening in the Student Professional Development Center! Presentations are in full swing in addition to the myriad of student appointments and meetings (all of which have been truly wonderful and educational). Speaking of presentations, Amber and I recently did a StrengthsQuest Workshop for Elon’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program. Co-faciliating a presentation that neither of us have done before was quite nerve-wracking, so we spent plenty of time developing an outline, pulling together resources and talking with the SPDC staff to gain feedback. Relying on our assessment training, our StrengthsQuest certification, and our unique Top 5 strengths we entered the presentation with confidence. For me, my top strength of Positivity shined big and bright, and to let me know that it was going to be a great Learning experience where I would have the opportunity to Relate to others.

The presentation included an engaging group of 15 students (and future leaders), who fully participated in our activities and conversation. The students asked questions, conversed and challenged each other, and took the opportunity to learn more about themselves. It was a high energy, moving about the room presentation, and Amber and I could not have been happier.

One of the most educational aspects of the presentation happened post the event. Amber and I were provided with feedback from the students regarding our style of presenting, what they learned and if it was relevant to the development of their leadership, things they could take away from the presentation and things that they would like to learn more about. I have learned that much of the work that we do as fellows, doesn’t receive immediate feedback, especially from presentations and workshops, so I printed off the feedback that was given and placed the email into my “Happy Thoughts” folder. Still, although we receive positive support and feedback from our supervisor and fellow staff members on a daily basis (which we are so appreciative of), it is always nice to hear good things from the students that we interact with. It gives us confirmation that the work we are doing is being recognized. Overall, the students were very impressed with our presentation. They recognized our high energy, structure of the conversation, clarification of material throughout, and participation engagement. Additionally, the students found the information relevant and worthwhile towards their professional development while learning about themselves as a leader. One of the best quotes from the group was, “(the presentation was) relevant to helping us build leadership by realizing our strengths.” On the other side of the coin, some students left with questions after the presentation, as we actually had run out of time and were not able to talk in depth about all of the information we wanted to share because the students were so engaged. I guess, that’s an okay problem to have!

Reflecting on this feedback, although it is always nice to hear, reconfirmed that the work I (we) are doing is good and strong. It shows that our passion and our mission of our fellowship is being received well by others. And, now, when offered another opportunity to present a similar topic, I have a better idea of where to work harder on. This fellowship, I have learned, is always a learning in progress! I accept this challenge!​

Alternative Break to Asheville, NC

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

As Kristen alluded to in her previous post, I also had the pleasure to join in an Alternative Fall Break this past weekend.  Myself, another fellow staff advisor, 2 phenomenal student leaders, 9 other students, and 2 passenger vans, made its way to Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina. Our trip revolved around community engagement and working with a charter school Art Space. Art Space is a K-8 school which has a focus on the integration of the arts in and out of the classroom. The brightly colored hallways of the school showcase the true talent and passion that the students share and that the teachers encourage. The school focuses on the experiential approach, and encourages all to explore, create, and achieve wonderful things.

New to the North Carolinian area, not knowing much about Asheville (but hearing wonderful things), and having very little knowledge on the concept of a charter school, I became wide-eyed and anxious about what the next few days would hold.  My daily mantra since arriving to NC 3 months ago has been to “keep an open mind”, and keep an open mind I did!  All aboard!

Our trip consisted of getting a tour of the school Saturday afternoon and starting with some outside work which continued through Sunday. Redeveloping steps between two fields, cutting back bushes and weeds behind the storage shed, pulling up, pulling down, flipping over, and aerating heavy pieces of turf and then reflipping, resizing, pulling back up, and stapling to keep in place, graveling, and making a path for the children were just some of the many tasks completed by the entire team. As you can probably tell, we did a lot of work with the turf that they had on their playing area, and boy, it certainly took every single one of us to get the job completed. Through our reflections each night, many of the students reflected on how hard it was to move the turf around, but that they were able to recognize and appreciate that it was a project that they couldn’t do alone. It was the true definition of team work. They also spent time reflecting of the point that the school staff was so appreciative of this project completed because it was not a project they could have done on their own. It took 15 strong bodies and many hours of labor to complete it, but the job was done!

A few snap shots from our time together at Art Space. The top picture is the last picture we took after working all day at location. You can also see one picture of the entire team moving around the turf. Naturally, I had to include a picture of our luncheon spot, pure deliciousness - NC bbq.

A few snap shots from our time together at Art Space. The top picture is the last picture we took after working all day at location. You can also see one picture of the entire team moving around the turf. Naturally, I had to include a picture of our luncheon spot, pure deliciousness – NC bbq.

As we worked really hard during the day, we had time for exploring and sightseeing in the afternoon/evening hours.

Some pictures from around Asheville and Black Mountain. We saw an absolutely gorgeous water fall in Black Mountain.

Some pictures from around Asheville and Black Mountain. We saw an absolutely gorgeous water fall in Black Mountain.

Have to take a trip selfie! What a great group of students this was! Could not be more proud of their leadership, reflection, and hard work.

Have to take a trip selfie! What a great group of students this was! Could not be more proud of their leadership, reflection, and hard work.

This trip was the definition of leadership and giving back. All members – initially strangers – became a tight knit group over the 4 day excursion. We shared memories, laughs, and beautiful views together. We learned through reflection, what it truly means to give back and to help those who are in need. We experienced what it was like to be selfless during our fall break, to keep an open mind, and step outside of the “Elon bubble” to live and to learn fully.

Alternative Breaks – Fall 2014

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

This past weekend was Fall Break at Elon. Students had a four-day weekend to go home, travel, rest, catch up on assignments, and, for those who stayed, to enjoy the quiet that envelops campus.

For those students who look for something different from typical break activities, the Kernodle Center organizes Alternative Breaks during the fall, winter, and spring. It is a wonderful program that fosters a variety of opportunities for students to engage with communities (both domestic and international) through service learning. Each break is entirely planned by student coordinators who demonstrate incredible leadership and take the reins with organizing the break from start to finish.

For this past round of programs, Danielle and I each served as advisors for an Alternative Breaks program and we’re excited to share a bit about these experiences with you!

Educational Disparities – Boys and Girls Club, Pembroke, NC

Yesterday afternoon I returned from a trip to Pembroke, North Carolina that was full of discovery and culture. The focus of our program was to volunteer with the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club of the Lumbee Tribe. The Pembroke area is home to many Lumbee Tribe members and we were privileged to be immersed in their community and to learn about their customs.

This was a first-time Alternative Breaks program. As such, we really didn’t know what to expect… and we could not have asked for a better experience. The Pembroke Boys and Girls Club welcomed us with open arms and what followed were a series of events and activities that encouraged a great deal of learning and reflection.

I could write for ages about all of our experiences such as: attending the 5th Annual Running Water Singers Pow Wow in Fayetteville, going on a buddy hike in Lumber River State Park, visiting the Native American Resource Center on UNC Pembroke’s campus, helping with homework and playing games during the Boys and Girls Club after-school program, and learning traditional Lumbee dances around a drum circle during an evening culture class. The best way I can think to sum up some of the most important takeaways is through an exercise inspired by the student coordinators of the program: the Rose, Thorn, and Bud activity.

On our last night in Pembroke, we went around in a circle sharing our Rose (a positive experience or special memory), Thorn (something difficult or challenging), and Bud (a lesson or source of inspiration that you can take with you into the future) from the break. It is a wonderful way to reflect on both short- and long-term experiences! Each group member had thoughtful and insightful comments to contribute, and here are some of my reflections:

Thorn

While we were preparing for the arrival of the boys and girls for their afterschool activities, one of the staff members from the club was providing “tricks of the trade” and helpful background information. What took us all aback was the gratitude that she expressed for our being there at the Boys and Girls Club. It was deeply heartfelt and genuine regardless of our being there for such a short time. It pricked like a thorn for me by being a potent reminder of the importance of gratitude and how meaningful it is to express it… especially having the message come from someone who dedicates a great deal of her time to working with the youth in the area. It was a wake-up call to always practice gratitude and to recognize all of the reasons that many of us have to be thankful.

Bud

Another member of the staff expressed his thanks for our being there and emphasized just how necessary it was for the boys and girls from the area to connect with those different from themselves, and to be encouraged to try new things and challenge their thinking. It is easy to forget how important it is to share your knowledge and experience with children in need of strong mentors… something to think about!

Rose

The Elon students who participated in the program. All of the students in the group were truly inspiring with their open minds, open hearts, and willingness to jump into any situation with respect, curiosity, and positivity. I learned a great deal from them and am thrilled to have been a part of their adventure!

Are You LinkedIn?

Networking, networking, networking! In today’s social media age, networking doesn’t just happen in person. 94% of employers use social media for recruiting purposes (Job-Hunt).

So what does LinkedIn have to do with networking?

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site with over 313 million members in 200 countries. People use LinkedIn to build their network, develop their professional identity, and share news and insights related to their industry.

Over the past month I have given several presentations on LinkedIn to Elon students of all ages, ranging from first year students to students in our Law School, encouraging them to create a profile and instructing them on how to do just that.  In preparation for this position (and those inevitable presentations), I have also been intentional about creating a stronger profile over the past several months.  However, I have learned that it is not enough to create a LinkedIn profile; you need to continue to engage with your connections and work constantly to expand your network.

So, how often should you engage with LinkedIn?  This is a question I have been wondering about myself.  In my research, I found a really helpful article that suggests ways to interact on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Daily

  • Interact with your homepage feed: Take a few minutes out of your day to stay up to date on the news in your industry and find out what your connections are up to.

Weekly

  • Post Something: Found an interesting article or want to update your network on your accomplishments at work? Find time at least once a week to stay engaged by posting.
  • Add New Contacts: Set aside time once a week to send personalized invites to people you’ve recently met. This is a great way to keep track of your contacts (especially if you’ve started a new job recently!).

Monthly

  • Update your profile: Find time at least once a month to update your profile with new accomplishments, projects, or job responsibilities. When the time comes to job search, you will have already updated your profile along the way.
  • Contribute to Groups: Comment on existing discussions, start your own discussion, or post an article in groups at least once a month to make new connections and start to establish yourself as a thought leader.
  • Reach Out to Old Contacts: At least once a month, take time to catch up with old contacts. Congratulate them on a new position, update them on your work life, share an article they may find interesting, or just ask how they are doing.  Don’t wait to reach out when you need something.  Catch up with them regularly.

How do you engage with LinkedIn?