Meet the 2017-2018 Career Advising Fellows

We’re so excited to introduce the 2017-2018 Career Advising Fellows: Rachel Brown & Rachael Rysz. We thought we’d make it tricky for the SPDC staff, and hire two people with the same name (although spelled differently). And, if you address them collectively by their last names, it sounds like your saying “brown rice.” So, there’s sure to be a few moments of humorous confusion within the SPDC in the coming months!

On a serious note, both Rachel Brown and Rachael Rysz bring unique talents and perspectives that will enrich the SPDC and Elon University as a whole. We are thrilled to welcome them to the SPDC team, and we’re grateful for their eagerness to learn, grow and contribute through this fellowship experience. Welcome to Elon, ladies!

Rachel Brown

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Rachel Brown is looking forward to joining the Phoenix Family for the 2017-2018 school year! Rachel grew up in Southern Virginia until moving to Williamsburg, Virginia, to study at the College of William & Mary, where she majored in psychology and English. Rachel decided to continue her education at William & Mary and received her master’s degree in counseling. During her time in graduate school, she was able to work as a graduate assistant at the Dean of Students Office. In this position, she discovered her interest in higher education, specifically in student development. Her classes and assistantship helped her realize that she wanted to combine her interests in higher education and counseling, and thus a position in career counseling became the perfect fit.

In her spare time, Rachel enjoys writing because she loves telling stories, but more importantly, she loves listening to the stories of others. She also enjoys traveling and being in nature, as depicted in this picture of her at a geyser in Iceland. When she’s not working, you’ll likely find her outside with a cup of coffee in one hand and a good book (probably by J.D. Salinger) in the other hand. Rachel is excited to listen to the stories of Elon students who come to the SPDC to help them develop their career goals.

 

Rachael Rysz

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Rachael Rysz hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she attended Duquesne University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Rachael then continued on her career path at Chatham University, where she obtained a Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology. During her time at Chatham, Rachael had ample opportunities for her own career exploration and a fulfilling experience working as an Intake Specialist for a large mental health private practice for the past four years. Her last internship working with adolescents and young adults unveiled a genuine passion for career services and helping others achieve their career goals. This experience led her to branch out to the field of Higher Education and act as an Educational Support Liaison for students enrolled in Career & Vocational Psychology courses at Chatham University. Rachael is motivated to help students find their passion through empowering them and encouraging experiential learning. In her spare time, Rachael loves volunteering, and particularly feels a connection working with individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. She enjoys musical theatre, hiking, exploring new coffee shops, traveling, and reading a good mystery novel. Rachael is ecstatic to join Elon’s SPDC team by acting as one of the Career Fellows for the 2017-2018 year and is immensely grateful to have this opportunity!

 

Reflection & Gratitude

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Written by: Career Advising Fellow, Katie Greene

I can hardly believe the fellowship will be ending in five short weeks. It feels like just yesterday I was being offered the fellowship and planning my move to NC. Now, I’m happy to share that we’ve hired two new fellows for the 2017-2018 academic year, who we’ll be introducing on this blog in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please allow me to reminisce a bit about this fellowship journey, which has been an incredible experience for me both personally and professionally.

This fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to embrace a professional role within higher education, which has served as a necessary bridge between my desire to contribute to higher education to advancing my career. During this fellowship I have been able to clarify the vision of my professional trajectory, through embracing some experiential learning (which is big here at Elon) with John Krumboltz’s Happenstance Theory. This theory emphasizes the importance of engaging the unknown or the non-linear journey toward clarifying our career path. Those who embrace this theory are encouraged to try new things and say “yes” to new opportunities for growth. This allows us to capitalize on our experiences as a way to continually clarify our career interests and values, while gaining increased skills along the way.

As I enter the ‘home stretch’ of this fellowship, I am compelled to ask myself if I’ve run this race well. In reflecting on this past academic year, do I notice areas in which I said “yes” to new professional experiences both within the SPDC and connected to other spaces on campus? At the end of this race, can I point to the markers that define my growth and resilience, through which I’m better prepared for my next professional endeavors? I am pleased to state that I believe I can respond positively to each of these questions in which I can point to my professional growth.

It is imperative to mention that my supervisor, Mr. Ross Wade, is an integral factor in supporting the experiential nature of this fellowship. His leadership is focused on cultivating the fellows’ strengths and encouraging fellows to engage their skills in unique and creative ways, understanding that career advising and professional development can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of venues. I can state without hesitation that this fellowship has been a truly rewarding and beneficial experience for me professionally, for which I will always be grateful. Thank you, Ross. And, thank you to the entire SPDC staff. The cohesive nature of this office, and the genuine care and concern for our individual and collective goals is quite remarkable. It has been a privilege working with you throughout this fellowship, and I am grateful to have five more weeks with y’all. : )

Indeed, great personal growth has occurred for me. This, in large part, is due to my amazing friendship with my co-fellow, Leo Hall. Though not a requirement, it nevertheless seems to be the case that with each new fellowship year, the two career advising fellows get along extremely well. In fact, one former fellow will be a bridesmaid in her co-fellow’s wedding this July! I, of course, had hoped my co-fellow, Leo, and I would get along, but I did not expect the true sisterhood bond that we have forged. We’ve been blessed with a friendship that is akin to sisterhood. The silly inside jokes, the late night laughter, empathic listening, and the rare disagreements that lead to apologies and forgiveness, have all helped me become a better person and a better friend.

Being a fellow has been like riding in the front cart of a roller coaster, eagerly anticipating each portion of the journey. Yet being co-fellows with you, Leo, has been like choosing to dare the ride in the back cart with our arms boldly in the air, where the journey is always exhilarating! Thank you, dear friend. Here’s to ‘Kleo!’

We look forward to introducing the new fellows in May, and providing our parting thoughts to the incoming fellows at that time.

Thank you.

Katie

Career+Identity

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L-R:Malcom, Jamie, me, Alex, Robert (Shereen had already left when the photo was taken)

Written By: Katie Greene, Career Advising Fellow

The Career+Identity event was a great success! Thank you to the amazing storytellers who brought a sense of candor and authenticity that was truly refreshing and meaningful for the audience. The creation and implementation of the first ever Career+Identity event here at Elon University was certainly a labor of love. I learned a great deal about connecting with students, staff and faculty who engage with a variety of identity spaces on campus, as well as the critical nature of marketing the event to the individual schools and majors. I was deeply humbled and grateful to have witnessed the enthusiasm around this event, and to have received support and encouragement for effective marketing. The success of the event was truly a team effort.

My hope is that my colleagues in the SPDC will be able to continue with this type of programming, so that more students can experience the power of authentic storytelling, through which they can recognize their asset capital and gain the tools necessary for their professional development. I believe that for future marketing success, collaborating with particular faculty who will commit in advance to requiring their students to attend as part of their course curriculum, would be beneficial. This strategy is not simply to increase numbers (as we had a successful number of approx. 60 people), but more importantly, to ensure that a diverse group of students attend with regard to their majors, and to foster an opportunity for classroom conversation regarding the content of the event with their peers and professors. I am hopeful that this programming will continue growing in a variety of ways, not just in its size, but with regard to its overall impact on students, faculty and staff.

In addition to the event itself, I also distributed a survey for attendees to complete. The questions focused on aspects of students’ identities and how these identities affect their comfort level in utilizing the SPDC and speaking with career advisors that might identify differently. Additionally, the survey focused on the extent to which students perceive aspects of their identity (such as  race, religion, sexual orientation or gender) as affecting their career and professional development decision-making. The data will benefit the SPDC in considering ways in which to continue effectively reaching students, addressing their individual needs and preferences, and providing successful programing.

Bravo, everyone!

Rule # 10

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Written By: Katie Greene

Happy New Year! The fellowship has officially entered its sixth month, which is living proof that “time flies when you’re having fun!”

I definitely feel that I have grown professionally over these past several months, and have gained invaluable exposure to a variety of career advising opportunities which have strengthened my skill set and expertise. Moving into the New Year and the second half of this fellowship, I am seeking to utilize this increased exposure and expertise to directly contribute to the goals of the SPDC through projects I’ve mentioned in the past, and I hope to outline new projects in the future.

Even though I am engaged with various projects that are meaningful to me, I am also mindful of the ways in which ‘letting go’ is crucial. I am referring to the ‘letting go’ that I have found beneficial when involving myself with projects about which I care deeply. As Gibbs would say on one of my favorite television series, NCIS: “Rule Number 10: Never get personally involved on a case.” Well, clearly Gibbs has never worked in higher education, because there’s no way in which not to get personally involved when supporting and encouraging students. However, the general meaning of his rule still applies.

My perspective is that we can diligently create events and work to implement policies and procedures that support positive growth and change, but ultimately, if we do not make room to ‘let go’ of the process with regard to our own eager, sometimes stifling expectations, we only serve to limit our own professional growth and the authentic and collaborative manifestation of the goals we seek.

This winter and spring, I look forward to remaining committed to various projects, while also making a concerted effort to ‘let go’ of my personal vision for these projects in order to intentionally seek a shared vision from which its most effective impact will occur, and continue beyond the time frame of my own fellowship experience.

In what ways do you try and follow Gibbs’ Rule # 10?

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Voice to Lived Experiences

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Written By: Career Advising Fellow, Katie Greene

Recently, I visited a local college to attend a professional development summit for minority students, particularly those who identify as African American or Latino/a. Originally, I thought the goal of my visit was to simply observe the event and consider ways in which aspects of its implementation could be facilitated at Elon University. Although the event was superbly organized and wonderfully informative for students, I quickly realized that the career development content of the event was not necessarily the main selling point. Rather, it was the sense of representation and belonging that added unique character to this event, which became evident during the formal dinner event that took place on the first evening of the summit.

During dinner, Mr. Clint Smith presented works from his recent published book of poetry, entitled: Counting Descent. Additionally, Mr. Smith shared anecdotes from his life and made time for a question and answer period after reciting his poetry.I was privileged to be sitting at a table with seven dedicated summit participants, all of whom were African American female students. During one of Clint Smith’s moving and pertinently challenging poems, I found myself observing the intensity with which these women were listening and hearing Mr. Smith’s message. The women sat in intense stillness, many of whom had even paused their movement of raising their fork from their plate in order to be fully present and receive the wisdom being shared. I suppose this was my Oprah Winfrey “Aha!” moment. In other words, I received the inspiration I had been waiting for with regard to a clear direction and purpose for my desired event at Elon focused on identity and work.

Upon returning from the summit, I met with my supervisor to discuss implementation of our “identity and work” event. I explained that, in my opinion, the event should focus around story-telling. Namely, professionals giving voice to students’ lived experiences. In working to address the professional development needs of under-represented students, we need to create opportunities for these same students to be represented. This event is one way to meet this need.

Additionally, I believe the shared stories should emphasize ‘asset capital,’ which is a term I recently became aware of while attending the NCCDA (North Carolina Career Development Association) conference. This term refers to the particular strengths that underrepresented, marginalized or minority students bring to the workplace. These students and recent graduates may not enter the workforce with the same amount of cultural or social capital, but often times they bring more ‘asset capital’ than other new employees. These assets are demonstrated in a variety of ways, such as being bi-lingual, having more cultural “fluency” with regard to  fluidly being able to ‘cross’ from one cultural  context to another, and understanding true persistence and the power of aspirations, often times instilled in them from family members who have sacrificed for them to reach their dreams and better their future.

Therefore, with the enthusiasm of my supervisor, I am continuing the implementation of a spring semester event, entitled: Work & Identity: Giving Voice to Diverse Lived Experiences. This event will be similar in nature to NPR’s, The Moth, in which invited guests (representing various diverse groups and professions) will share a 5-minute story of their professional development journey from the perspective of asset capital. The purpose of these stories is to increase and solidify underrepresented students’ self-efficacy as it relates to their professional development. After the stories are shared, there will be a panel discussion followed by the opportunity to mingle and network.

This event is scheduled for the end of February. I look forward to piloting this idea and then considering its effectiveness, or lack thereof. Here’s hoping for the former!

 

Options Inform Creativity

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Recently, I had an extremely helpful and insightful conversation with the assistant director of a career center at a university in Kentucky. In conducting research of career centers I believed had ample experience with targeted programs for diverse student populations, I decided to reach out to this particular career center to request an opportunity to further discuss this research topic. Sarah (pseudonym) was wonderfully informative, and I would like to thank her, again, for both her time and substantive conversation.

Our discussion unintentionally, but beneficially, focused on the following general questions: What is not enough versus what is too much regarding the implementation of targeted programming? How much does creating trust with student groups affect the success of marketing and programming? What types of programs have been most successful?

Not Enough vs. Too Much:

Sarah has worked, and contributed to, a variety of offices within higher education. Most specifically, she brings a good amount of experience working with the LGBT center on her campus, as both a current professional and previous student. Her previous relationship with this center was beneficial in beginning to create and market professional development programs for underrepresented students. She, too, created relationships with a variety of offices and coordinated events with various organizations, which ultimately led to the career center offering monthly intentional programs and workshops for the LGBT Center, the Women’s Center, Disability Resources, among others.

Sarah’s goals, and her implementation of these goals, was starting to sound familiar as it mimicked my own intentions thus far. However, her next statement gave me cause for pause, and has led me to view my goals and ideas through a more critical lens. Namely, Sarah stated that not long after initiating monthly intentional workshops, students began to inform her that they didn’t want to attend a program specifically addressed to their particular identity, but rather, they wanted to have their concerns more holistically addressed in the general programming.

My initial response was to feel discouraged by this result. However, Sarah mentioned that it wasn’t the actual intentional programming that was the issue, but rather, the frequency of such programming. In other words, finding ways to emphasize diverse issues within the general outreach of the career center is the foundation for inclusive success. Then, offering occasional intentional programming is a way to reinforce this awareness of diversity and the support of inclusivity. In brief, balance is essential.

Trust:

Sarah mentioned that her involvement in having worked at the LGBT Center as a student and professional, allowed her the advantage of having a relationship with the students, which is a critical component to effective marketing of intentional programming. Of course, it is important not to ‘tokenize’ faculty or staff in order to address various identity groups. However, there is also truth to the fact that people appreciate the support of those that ‘look or identify’ similarly to them. Again, I am reminded of the importance of balance.

Successful Programs

I was pleased to hear that she has experienced great success with inviting guest speakers, and offering panel discussions pertaining to identity. However, Sarah elaborated by stating that it was not simply enough to conduct a panel discussion, but she needed to emphasize marketing outreach by major. Many business companies have employee support programs regarding diversity. However, many underrepresented student groups are looking to work in the areas of social work, activism and education, to name a few. Therefore, knowing what majors would be more apt to attend the panels, and reaching out to each department to effectively market the event was most beneficial to its success.

Similarly, panel discussions proved useful for students who engage with Disability Services. More specifically, a program focused on alumni success stories was well received by students. This allows for alums to attend the event, representing a variety of disabilities, whether or not they require accommodations at work. Issues such as when to come out with a disability on a resume or in an interview (especially if one does not need to request any particular accommodation) can be discussed, among other topics.

Indeed, I am reminded that options so often inform creativity, as there are a myriad of ways in which the results of this research could affect positive change, and the ideas for programs could be implemented.

Here’s to the creative process!

A Project in Progress

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Written By: Katie Greene (Career Advising Fellow)

My fellowship experience is wonderfully holistic, for which I am grateful. I am encouraged to learn about many aspects of career services, while also being encouraged to focus intently on an area of particular interest for my own professional development and the continued growth of the SPDC.  My area of interest surrounds researching, advancing and implementing career development opportunities for underrepresented student populations. For the sake of my research, I am focusing on students who are engaged with the Center for Race, Equity, Diversity Education (CREDE), the Gender and LGBTQIA Center and Disability Services.

Ross Wade, who is the Director of the SPDC as well as my supervisor, has agreed that we should focus this research within the framework of the following general question: What is the comfort level of diverse students at Elon with regard to utilizing our SPDC services and discussing any issues or concerns with career advisors pertaining to their career development or internships? As this fellowship is only a 10-month program, my hope is to conduct research to inform the creation of an anonymous survey to be distributed to students, and then create an outline of objectives that can hopefully be implemented during the next academic year.

I have been encouraged to use this blog as a space in which to share the process of delving into this project. As a starting point, I have begun this journey by reaching out to the directors of the various centers and offices that might potentially be a part of distributing the planned survey. I will be meeting with each person to discuss the ways in which this research might benefit students, and to brainstorm potential questions to be utilized on the survey.

Additionally, I am reaching out to various colleges and universities that currently offer successful programming for underrepresented students, in order to learn from those experienced with offering targeted programming in order to consider the ways in which these services might best be created and implemented for Elon students, in accordance with the University’s strategic plan.

I am pleased to be conducting a site visit at Davidson College on Nov. 4th, when they host the Emerging Professionals Group Summit (EPG Summit). This will be a wonderful opportunity for me to engage with students and staff, learning more about what students in attendance are looking to again from the experience, and what the staff and visiting professionals are able to contribute to increase initiatives for minority students, which is the focus of this summit.

I hope you will continue to follow my progress as I begin to conduct this research. I look forward to sharing what I learn from my attendance at EPG. Please stay tuned!