I’m still enjoying all the publicity gymnastics has received during the weeks surrounding the Olympics. So, please humor me as I reference gymnastics one more time on this blog.

U.S. Olympic gymnast, Laurie Hernandez, won the silver medal on the balance beam in Rio a few weeks ago. You might wonder how she can tumble and spin on a beam that is a mere four inches wide and four feet off the ground. It’s interesting to note that in order to remain balanced when completing spins or landing flips, gymnasts are trained to keep their eyes on the end of the beam, so as to maintain their alignment.


A similar metaphor can be expressed about learning to drive. Perhaps, like me, you had your driving instructor remind you to look a few car lengths ahead rather than directly at the yellow line, so as not to swerve? Yikes!


These examples about looking straight ahead while still being aware of things in your peripheral vision, are apropos when considering work-life balance. In dealing with the demands of the college semester, it can be easy to lose one’s balance on a singular focus, i.e., an intense course, the big athletic game, your leadership duties, etc. However, it’s important to remember that being dedicated is different than being unbalanced in your work ethic.

The following are five suggestions, from WebMD, to consider when working towards work-life balance.

Build downtime into your schedule.

  1. When you plan your week, make sure to schedule time with family and friends and/or activities that help you re-charge.

Finding ways to rejuvenate is essential to maintaining well-being.

  1. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

Spending too much time on activities or people that add no value and sap you of energy is unproductive and unhealthy.

  1. Re-think your errands.

Consider ways to combine errands to save time and energy.

  1. Get moving.

Exercise can help you concentrate better and remain alert throughout the day.

  1. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Whether it’s a favorite TV program, taking a walk, or listening to music, whatever you find relaxing, try and make time for it each week.

To read more, please go to:



3 Ways to Support International Students:

By Leonora Hall, Career Advising Fellow

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International students are embarking on an educational journey when they study abroad.  Their transition to a new institution and country is impacted by professionals at the university they are attending.  How can student affairs professionals better support international students while they study abroad?

After talking to an experienced professional who works with international students, I recognize the importance of actively listening to students, especially those who are studying abroad.  When immersing themselves into a new culture, students must learn to navigate cultural differences. For instance, in Congo, age is a sign of wisdom and a source of pride.  On the contrary, it is common knowledge to most Americans to avoid asking a woman her age.  Additionally, my friend from China pointed out differences in dating between China and the states. In China, when a man is dating a woman and walks her to her door, it indicates the relationship is moving to the next level.  Though it is exciting for students to be immersed into a new culture, the cultural differences can be overwhelming, confusing and challenging.  However, student affairs professionals can support students by listening to their experiences so they can help students with their experiences abroad.

As a career advisor, I have considered how I can better accommodate international students in one-on-one appointments.  After talking to professionals , I recognize the importance of meeting students where they are.  For example, advisors can ask students intentional questions like, “what do you want to gain from today’s appointment?”.  A student may have an appointment to prepare for an interview.  Instead of jumping into common interview questions, the advisor should ask where the student wants to start.  The student may have questions about how to do their makeup and what kind of eye contact is considered “normal” in the states.  Let the students guide the appointment and meet them where they begin.

Students studying for a semester abroad are not abroad from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  They are abroad all twenty four hours of each and every day.  One student affairs professional shared an experience about an international student being hit by a car while studying abroad in the states.  The professional immediately arrived at the hospital and was there for the student constantly, within and outside of normal work hours.  While the student was recovering, a faculty member welcomed the student into her home because the student needed certain physical accommodations after the accident.  Furthermore, the student had to attend court with the driver who hit him so the student affairs professional attended these court dates too.  Obviously, the student needed support outside typical business hours. Especially with family living half way around the world.  The professionals provided that support by being available, flexible and prioritizing the student.

Student affairs professionals who take the time to listen, understand and are available to international students are invaluable.  Whether a student is learning what behaviors might be offensive in a new country or dealing with a crisis, professionals are supports that greatly impact an international students’ experiences.  As advisors and educators, we want international students’ experiences to be meaningful, educational and positive which we can achieve by offering support.


A Positive Attitude Perfect 10.0

By Katie Greene, Career Advising Fellow

The Olympics recently came to a close, which (if you’re anything like me) probably means you will now be able to get your full eight hours or more of sleep each night! I found myself staying up much later than usual to watch my favorite sporting events, especially gymnastics! Clearly, Simone Biles was quite successful at these 2016 Olympics, and if the perfect 10.0 scoring system still existed within elite gymnastics, I’m sure she would have received many 10’s while competing in Rio. Watching Simone Biles compete her skills with such ease and perfection is always impressive. However, it’s important to remember that in addition to her natural talent and excellent work ethic, a foundational element to Simone’s success is her ability to maintain a positive attitude.

This reality led me to consider the ways in which exhibiting a positive attitude at work (whether regarding schoolwork, an internship or job), not only increases our overall enjoyment of our work, but also leads us to increased success in reaching our professional goals.

Udemy blogger, Allison Boyer, provides the following 10 tips for success when working to improve or maintain your positive attitude at work. I’ve summarized and condensed her suggestions below. I invite you to consider these tips and see if you can score a perfect 10.0 on your positive attitude at work!

Tip #1: Report problems quickly and professionally.

If you speak to your boss about a complaint, try to also propose a solution.

Tip #2: Treat your coworkers with respect.

You don’t need to like everyone you work with, but being respectful to all those around you helps create and support a positive work environment.

Tip #3: Get enough sleep.

Don’t rely on “catching up” on the weekends. Go to bed earlier.

Tip #4: Identify negative thoughts.

Be mindful of any negative thoughts, and consider if you can approach an issue from a more positive perspective.

Tip #5: Work on your overall stress level.

Try and take a holistic approach to understanding your stress levels. Stress at home or in a relationship affects stress levels at work and vice versa.

Tip #6: Work toward a new job (don’t remain stagnant in a truly miserable job).

If you truly hate your job, prepare your resume and start looking for a new position.

Tip #7: Set goals.

If you’re feeling stagnant in your job, it might be helpful to sit down with your manager to create some realistic, yet challenging goals, both short and long-term.

Tip #8: Alter your responsibilities.

If you have the option to take on new tasks, this is one way to mitigate the monotony of more mundane tasks.

Tip #9: Smile!

Without being disingenuous, a simple smile can subconsciously affect your overall mood, as well as, affect the positive interaction between co-workers.

Tip #10: Remember that a job is just a job.

Your job does not define you. If you don’t like your job, be grateful for the paycheck while you continue looking for a new position, and try and focus on enjoying the more positive aspects of your life.

To read the full content surrounding these 10 tips, check out Allison Boyer’s blog here:

Where are they now? Marianne (Brigola) Gissane | 2011-2012

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By: Ross Wade, Director of Career Development

This academic year we’ll be checking in with some of our past Career Advising Fellows (CAFs) to find out where they are now, how they are doing, and any advice they have for current and prospective CAFs. Check out our brief Q&A with Marianne below.

What are you doing now? Where? 

I’m the Talent Acquisition Specialist for the Global Talent Acquisition Team at Patheon, in the Research Triangle Park (Durham, NC). I work with the executive recruiting team for a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing company that has over 8,000 employees across 25 international sites. I manage the candidate experience for senior and executive level candidates interviewing for positions at our sites (this means everything from coordinating interviews, travel logistics and managing day-of execution of the meetings). Additionally, I’m newly in charge of reporting for our team, which includes everything from requisition requests for new positions to global talent metrics for the CEO and Executive Board. I also have additional projects including developing a university relations strategy and executive on-boarding.

What led you to your current position? Discuss your career path post the SPDC Career Advising Fellowship.

The summer after my Fellowship, I worked with the Elon in LA Program / Bridges in LA Program as a program coordinator and internship supervisor. Following that, I spent a year at the University of Virginia as a Career Advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences, and then returned to Elon as the Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications. The students and faculty were amazing (of course!) I had the opportunity to get involved in so many things including conference presentations, ELP classes and employer relations.

However at that point, I had about 4-5 years of post-grad experience only in higher education and I was itching to do something different. I wanted some experience in corporate organizations and recruiting. An advertising agency in Durham had an opening for a Talent Coordinator. The position was working with their recruiter and managing their 3 internship programs. It seemed like a great opportunity that would allow me to still be involved with college students, but also gain experience on the recruiting side and help me build additional skills. I applied and landed the job at the ad agency. My experience in the School of Communications had given me knowledge of advertising and my experiences as a Fellow and with the Elon in LA programs had helped me gain experience in building programs and internships. I was at the agency for almost a year when they went through some downsizing (ah corporate!) which led my to current role at Patheon.

How did your time as a Career Advising Fellow impact your professional life?

I don’t think I’d be where I’m at if it wasn’t for the Career Advising Fellowship. In addition to experience in career advising, I learned so much, so quickly. Time management, public speaking, program development and coordination – I pull on all of those skills on a daily basis. The ability to juggle multiple hats and projects in particular is one that I’ve taken with me from role to role.

The Fellowship gave me such a strong foundation for my career within career advising. I had far more experience than other candidates who had just completed a traditional internship – in addition to meeting with students, I developed & taught classes and programs, worked with student organizations, collaborated with faculty etc. – I felt confident in my abilities as a career advisor.

Even now, a little over a year out of higher ed, it’s been reassuring that so many of the things I shared with students about professional development (resume formatting, the importance of LinkedIn, etc.) definitely speak true for recruiting from the employer’s perspective, whether it’s at the internship level or executive level.

What is one thing you know now, you wish you had known during your time as a Career Advising Fellow?

Appreciate how invested and open faculty members are to collaborating w/ Career Services! When I left Elon, I was struck by how difficult it was to engage faculty in career development for their students – some didn’t want to give up class time, others didn’t think it was relevant for students at that stage of their academic career.

At times it may feel overwhelming (particularly when you started with an 8AM appointment and now you’re running to a 6:30 presentation) but it’s worth it. You’ll be working hard throughout the year and honestly, everything afterwards will seem like a cakewalk compared to your 10 months at Elon. At the end of your Fellowship, you’ve have learned more in those 10 months than you would have thought possible.

Also, College Coffee typically only has half and half – if you’re like me and prefer your coffee  w/ milk, be sure to bring your own🙂


What emoticon would you use to summarize your time with the SPDC as a fellow?

As a Fellow, you’re constantly on the go – from one appointment to a classroom to another academic building to a student org meeting… plus, those 10 months fly by!

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Meet the 2016-2017 Career Advising Fellows!

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

The Student Professional Development Center is excited to announce the 2016-2017 Career Advising Fellows! For the sixth year, the two fellows will join the SPDC as full-time staff and serve in various career advising capacities over the 2016-2017 academic year. Keep reading to learn more about the incoming fellows!

Massachusetts native, Katie Greene, enjoys helping students clarify their personal and professional goals. Katie graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Upon graduation, she explored a variety of career options, through which she gained experience in Admissions at a school for English as a Second Language. Katie’s experience serving as a liaison between students and staff confirmed her interest in higher education student affairs. This interest led Katie to Merrimack College, where she worked for the past 2 ½ years as the Administrative Assistant to the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, gaining valuable experience within academic affairs. While an employee at Merrimack College, she pursued her Master of Education degree in Higher Education. For fun, Katie enjoys the performing arts, dancing Lindy Hop, and spending time with family and friends. Katie is thrilled to be joining Elon University as a Career Advising fellow. She is grateful for the opportunity to foster the career development of Elon students, and for the privilege of working alongside the SPDC staff.

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Katie Greene

Leo Hall grew up in North Carolina and earned a Bachelor’s in Special Education from Appalachian State University.  After graduation, Leo taught adults Basic Skills at Sampson Community College for three years, then decided to pursue a Master’s degree in College Student Development at Appalachian State University.  Leo immediately loved the program and had the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom to learn about higher education abroad.  The experience abroad was incredible and helped her reflect on supporting students.  Leo hopes to go abroad again in the near future! After completing an internship at the University of North Carolina Asheville in Career Services, Leo realized she wanted to continue helping students with career exploration and development.  Leo has a passion for helping students by building relationships and asking intentional questions. In her free time, Leo enjoys hiking, journaling, seeing musicals and reading.  Leo’s favorite places are the mountains, coffee shops and bookstores.   Some of her best memories are spending time with family, friends and traveling. Being a Career Fellow at Elon is an opportunity Leo is excited and grateful to begin!

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Leo Hall

Please join Latisha and me in welcoming Katie and Leo to Elon University as the 2016-2017 Career Advising Fellows!

Time To Set New Goals For The Next Journey Ahead

how_to_set_social_media_goals1By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

As the end of my fellowship approaches, which baffles me the more I say it, it has been amazing to see the goals that I made for myself come to completion. When I began, one of the first blog posts I wrote was geared toward goal setting. I specifically mentioned how improving my presentation abilities and to at least give 100 presentations by the end of my fellowship was one of my top goals. Well, I didn’t quite count each presentation I gave but I am confident that I easily surpassed presenting 100 times throughout my time here as a fellow. With each presentation, I saw myself gaining more confidence as I presented to students, faculty, board of trustees, and even elementary aged students at Haw River Elementary’s Career Day.

Creating goals for yourself before you start a new position is certainly advice I will continue to give out and follow as I progress in my career. Not only did it help me to focus on and strengthen specific skills but it also allowed me to reflect on each step I took towards reaching that goal. To see the growth in myself since when I first began has been invaluable. When I began this journey in July, I couldn’t have imagined all of the wonderful opportunities that would be afforded to me both professionally and personally.

When you start a new position, the giddiness to meet your new colleagues and the excitement to begin the work that you believe you are so destined to do, is probably one of the best feelings to have. How do I know? Because those were my exact feelings when I began my time here at Elon University and I am so grateful to currently have those feelings once again. I am excited to say that after my fellowship ends I will be traveling back to my hometown of Richmond, VA to work with the students of Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Director for Career & Industry Advising with VCU Career Services. So what are my next goals to be set for this new position? As of right now, I am still mustering those up, however, keep up with me via LinkedIn and you will be sure to find out.🙂

Fellowship Finale & Moving Forward

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow (2015-2016)

Since beginning the Career Advising Fellowship in July 2015, my experience at Elon in the SPDC has been the most rewarding post-master’s experience possible.

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Latisha Taylor and Beth Mannella (2015-2016 Career Advising Fellows) tabling at the Student Organization Fair in September 2015

Looking back: In preparation for my Career Advising Fellowship interview one year ago (to this day!), I read numerous blog posts, and I looked forward to the prospect of learning industry trends and overall knowledge of career services to then share on this blog. Throughout my fellowship, I wrote blog posts on new beginnings, things coming full circle, ePortfolio tips, media analytics, updating cover letters, and continuing to search for a job/internship during March madness! My content developed from attending presentations hosted by my colleagues in the School of Communications, teaching five sections of Transition Strategies courses, and meeting one-on-one with students. These opportunities served as means of gaining first-hand knowledge of challenges students face regarding professional development, as well as learn feedback from employers to share with students and colleagues beyond Elon.

Gratitude: Prior to joining Elon, I ran residence halls for four years and was seeking a new functional area within higher education to start my career. Elon provided endless opportunities throughout the fellowship that led me to a career in which I am excited to wake up to every morning! Throughout the fellowship, attending conferences, managing on-campus employer relations in the fall semester, presenting to students on finding careers in new-to-me areas (criminal justice, geriatrics, history), and having support from an office who appreciates, respects, challenges, and encourages the fellows has been invaluable. Every day for the past nine months, I felt gratitude toward Elon and my colleagues for providing this Career Advising Fellowship and all of the opportunities embedded in the fellowship.

Moving forward: After the fellowship, I am joining Action Greensboro in Greensboro, NC as the Program Director for a new initiative, the Opportunity Greensboro Summer Fellows Program. This position combines many aspects of career services that I gained experience in (and realized I loved) during my fellowship. As the Program Director, I will work with a cohort of students from the seven local Greensboro colleges and universities, each respective institution’s career services office, and organizations throughout Greensboro who host local college students (my cohort of Summer Fellows) in paid summer internships. To learn more about the Summer Fellows Program, which launches summer 2016, feel free to check out the website here! In addition, my supervisor is an Elon alumna, which is great!

Overall: It is amazing to explore new career areas and find a position/office/environment that truly fits. I am forever grateful for the Career Advising Fellowship in the SPDC and the greater Elon University community for providing ten incredible months. I am looking forward to staying nearby in Greensboro and continuing to support the Career Advising Fellows, while engaging with the SPDC in my new position!