Farewell Fellowship

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

This fellowship has been a wonderful experience over the last 10 months filled with many opportunities for learning and exploring, new friendships, moments of growth both personally and professionally, challenges, and time to reflect.  It was just what I needed to settle back into North Carolina and decide on a career path that is right for me.  That career path involves helping others with their own career journeys.  Speaking of journeys…since you have followed us on this journey, it only seems right to let you know where I am headed next.  Saturday will officially be my last day as a Career Advising Fellow after our office assists with Commencement.

However, it is with excitement that I can announce that I will continue my journey at Elon University as the Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications.  This also comes with the opportunity to work closely with next year’s fellows!  *Cue excitement*  🙂

I am beyond grateful for all of the support from the Student Professional Development Center throughout my fellowship and thankful that they are keeping me around. I am looking forward to all of the learning, challenges, and excitement that this new position will offer.  Here’s to a new leg in my career journey!

Long Live Elon!  Go Phoenix!
Long Live Elon! Go Phoenix!

Welcome to the 2015-2016 Career Advising Fellows

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow 

It was a competitive process with many excellent candidates, but the Student Professional Development Center is very pleased to welcome Beth and Latisha to the team as the 2015-2016 Career Advising Fellows!  Keep reading to learn more about our talented additions to the team!

Originally from Bucks County, PA, Beth Mannella attended James Madison University where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Management with a minor in Human Resource Development. While attending James Madison University, Beth worked in residence life and found her calling in higher education, which led to pursuing a career in student affairs. Beth has spent the last two years at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, completing her Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration and working in the Office of Residence Life, with practicum experiences in the Business Career Center and New Student and Family Programs. She is thrilled to join Elon University and work with students and staff in the Career Services Advising Fellowship. For fun, Beth enjoys reading blogs and books, cooking, planning travel adventures, and attending baseball games at all 30 MLB stadiums (she has been to 10 stadiums already)! Beth is looking forward to leaving the Midwest winters and experiencing the beauty of Elon University and North Carolina.

eth Mannella
Beth Mannella

From Richmond, Virginia, Latisha Taylor, is more than excited for her move down to North Carolina to help the students of Elon achieve their dream careers. Latisha attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where she double majored in Psychology and Human Services. During that time is when she became heavily involved in social and community service organizations, which peaked her interest and eventually her passion for  Student Affairs. Latisha went on to complete her Master’s degree in Higher Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia where she worked as a Graduate Assistant in Housing and Residence Life and a Graduate Intern at University Career Services. Latisha is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In her free time, Latisha enjoys shopping, watching Netflix, and hanging out with friends and family.

Latisha Taylor
Latisha Taylor

Latisha and Beth will begin in July 2015 🙂

Alternative Break to Eagle Butte, SD

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow 

Just a couple weeks ago, Elon students were on Spring Break for a week.  While some students went on vacation, some traveled home for interviews, and others completed a week of service in various domestic and international locations through Elon University’s Alternative Break program.  {You can find more information about the program from Kristen and Danielle’s previous posts, here and here.}  I spent my Spring Break accompanying one of the Alternative Break programs to Eagle Butte, SD.

Just like you – I was thinking…where is Eagle Butte??  Well, it is located in the northern, central part of South Dakota and the closest airport is about 3 hours away – we traveled for approx. 18 hours each way between our flights, layovers, and car rides to reach our destination.  It was certainly an entertaining bonding experience to say the least. So, why did we travel to Eagle Butte, SD?

I spent the week with one other staff member and 12 students volunteering on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation with the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP).  The CRYP is comprised of 4 components: the Main Youth Center, the Family Services Program, the Winyan Toka Win Garden, and the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center.  We focused our time and energy on the Main Youth Center and the Teen Center.  Throughout the week, we helped clean the facilities, fixed meals for the children, planned a jungle themed birthday party, coordinated a bake sale in the community, picked up trash in a public park, entertained the children during play time, interacted with the teens by playing basketball, assisted with a rummage sale, and educated ourselves on the culture of the reservation.

By far, it was one of the most rewarding and enlightening trips I have ever been on and it was an incredible experience to be immersed in a culture that is so different from my own.  Each night our group reflected on our experiences and we had several conversations about values, power, privilege, access to resources, and many other topics.  For example, people on the reservation highly value family and culture, but they don’t have access to things such as recycling – which I take for granted.

Our group picked up trash in a public park for over an hour, collecting 50 bags.
Our group picked up trash in a public park for over an hour, collecting 50 bags.

Outside of volunteering, we also visited Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse – both of which are memorials, but the experiences are starkly different.  I would highly recommend a visit to both to gain a better understanding.

Crazy Horse Monument in progress.  It was started in 1948 and is 563 feet high, making it the world's largest mountain sculpture.
Crazy Horse Monument in progress. It was started in 1948 and is 563 feet high, making it the world’s largest mountain sculpture.

As an advisor, it was a great way to build deeper relationships with students and a fantastic learning opportunity.  The students at Elon are incredibly engaged, reflective, insightful, and genuine.  It was a pleasure to advise the trip and watch relationships form among the students and residents of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

We baked cookies & cupcakes and walked around the community to sell the items to raise money for the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
We baked cookies & cupcakes and walked around the community to sell the items to raise money for the Cheyenne River Youth Project.

Dance First, Think Later

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

Today’s post title was inspired by a book titled “Dance First. Think Later: 618 Rules to Live By” by Kathryn and Ross Petras. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to read the book, but it is on my “to do” list.

I really enjoy this mantra and think it is perfectly applicable to the job search.  Currently, I am in the job search since the fellowship ends in May, so this phrase is on my mind personally, but also in my advising appointments with students. In regards to the job search, we need to “Dance first and think later.”

What do I mean by this?

I hear so many students question whether a job will be the right fit for them in terms of qualifications, location, job responsibilities, etc before they even apply for a position. I’ll admit that I am also guilty of this. But, how do you know if a position will be right for you if you don’t apply and interview for it.  If you choose not to apply, then you’ve cut yourself off from the position without giving it a chance.  If you apply and it doesn’t work out, then at least you did everything possible on your end.  The same goes for your qualifications – you may think you are slightly under-qualified for a position, but you never know what mix of skills, characteristics, knowledge, and experience an employer is truly looking for.

That being said, if you absolutely know you don’t want to move to a certain location or you truly don’t have the qualifications for a position, then, remember that your time is valuable, so it should be spent applying to positions that are genuine possibilities.

So, “Dance First. Think Later.”

Lifelong Learning – Professional Development

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow 

Throughout this fellowship, Danielle, Kristen, and I have been encouraged to take advantage of any opportunities we have to continue to develop ourselves professionally.  We knew coming into these positions that we would be spending the next 10 months immersing ourselves and learning as much as possible about career services and other areas or topics that are beneficial to our development. The amount of time and resources we utilize to participate in these activities is indicative of how much this position and office encourages our growth as professionals.

Between the three of us, we have attended:

In addition to the formal conferences and workshops, we’ve also conducted informational interviews at 3 universities in the surrounding area.  We’ve had meetings with and continue to communicate with over 30 professionals throughout the various offices and departments across Elon’s campus to promote partnerships and collaboration.  Finally, we share helpful articles and resources as we are come across them.

Professional development is important no matter how much experience you have.  What are your suggestions for lifelong learning?  How do you stay up-to-date in your career?

Tis the Season for New Year’s Resolutions

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

Welcome to 2015 – what an exciting time it is!  Tis the season for setting goals, reflecting on the past year, and making fresh starts.  Obviously, you can do these things at any point during the year, but the start of a new year is a natural time to for this process to occur.  So, let’s talk about New Year’s Resolutions.

This past year was the first year that I was actually successful in sticking to my New Year’s Resolution.  I am 24 years old, so why was this the first time in 24 years that I was able to keep my resolution?  I set a goal that was simple, but necessary: Have a more positive outlook on life.

At the beginning of 2014, I was starting my last semester of graduate school at the University of Georgia in College Student Affairs Administration.  I knew it was going to be a busy semester and first half of the year between studying for and taking the comprehensive exam, working 20+ hours per week in my assistantship with University Housing, finishing up my academic work, job searching, and spending as much time as possible with my friends before we all went our separate ways.

So, was it easy to maintain a positive outlook at all times?  Absolutely not – let’s be honest. I certainly encountered challenges along the way.  How did I do it?

If you ask most people how they are doing, they will likely respond with “fine,” “good,” or “well.”  I chose to respond with “Delightful!” It sets a positive tone and I believe that positivity and happiness are contagious.  To further spread the positivity, I made it a point to write notes of encouragement to my friends and the students I worked with randomly throughout the year. After a particularly challenging part of the year, I followed a trend on Instagram (#100happydays) and posted a photo a day for 100 days about something that made me happy each day. It was encouraging to notice the small things in life that brought a smile to my face.  Lastly, I am of the opinion that everything happens for a reason and I tried to reframe any challenges and obstacles that I encountered to find the silver lining.

As a result, people that I’ve met since the start of 2014 have commented on how much they appreciate my positivity, positivity is now one of my top 5 Strengths according to StrengthsFinder, friends seek encouragement from me, and personally, I have learned to complain less, which has made a huge difference.

Resolutions can be personal or professional.  For 2015, one of my resolutions falls on the professional side.  I absolutely love this fellowship, but come May, it will be ending.  I resolve to find another position that is both fulfilling and fun.  In addition, I resolve to be patient in this search as it may take a while to find the right fit.

What are your professional resolutions?  Maybe you want to take more vacation time, find another position that more closely aligns with your values, spend more time with your colleagues, make more professional connections, engage with social media more often, or start a new project at work.  Whatever it is, resolve to do it and stick with it!  It may be challenging or it may scare you a little, but that’s the beauty of it.  You’ll be so proud of yourself when 2016 rolls around.

Happy New Year!  Make 2015 both meaningful and memorable!

Perks of a Partnership

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

As someone who enjoys working with other people, one of the things that I have most enjoyed about the fellowship thus far is that it is a joint effort between Danielle, Kristen, and I. It was one of the characteristics that initially drew me to this position. Why, you may ask?

In a society that values individual contributions, achievements, and accomplishments, I think we sometimes forget about the value of teamwork and partnerships. Below are some of the perks that I’ve experienced:

  • Diversity of strengths and experiences: Each of us has our own unique experiences and strengths. When we are working, we’ve learned that three heads (and sets of hands) are better than one. There are 3 of us to split up the work, 3 of us to brainstorm ideas, and 3 of us to bring those ideas to fruition. The diversity in our experiences, ideas, and strengths allow us to have a larger impact on the students around us.
  • Source of affirmation, accountability, and advice: My teammates have been a constant source of affirmation, accountability, and advice. After a long week of work when I’ve felt exhausted, my teammates have reminded me of why I love my work and the impact it has on others.  Similarly, they are around to bounce ideas off of and to offer advice when I am facing a challenge in my work. Lastly, we hold each other accountable. By this, I mean that we remind each other of deadlines and assignments, but more so, we remind each other to make time for ourselves and to take a break when it’s needed for work/life balance.
  • Opportunities for education: Danielle, Kristen and I came to this position with different backgrounds: Danielle in Counseling, Kristen in International Work, and myself in Student Affairs.  As a result, we process information through different lenses, have varied interests, and can teach each other along the way. Similarly, we are each focused on different topics, projects, and student populations on campus. In this respect, we can reach out to each other with questions concerning those areas and I have the opportunity to constantly educate myself because of the people around me.
  • Friends to share the journey with! Danielle and Kristen have become two people that I am thrilled to call genuine friends in a professional setting, but also in a personal and social setting. The three of us were new to the Elon area and new to the field of Career Services at the beginning of this fellowship. Together, we are exploring the Elon/Burlington area where we reside, making friends across campus, navigating the nuances of a completely new experience, and creating memories along the way!

I see and understand the value in partnering with others in the work environment as it has been a tremendous benefit throughout this fellowship. Find ways to partner with others in your work – you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.


Danielle, Kristen, and I promoting the Student Professional Development Center at the Fall Organization Fair.
Danielle, Kristen, and I promoting the Student Professional Development Center at the Fall Organization Fair.