Fake Break

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

Elon students have been enjoying a quick reprieve between having finished their Winter Term this past Tuesday and prior to beginning the Spring Semester tomorrow. During “Fake Break” some students choose to head home, others are using that time to relax around campus (especially those whose travel was challenged by the weather up north), and we’ve even received word of students who are using this time to … drum roll please… apply to jobs! We’re always happy to get that report :)

Not only is Elon’s Fake Break a good time for students to get some rest and prepare for the next semester, but it is also a great opportunity for faculty and staff to do some of those things we’ve been meaning to accomplish, like clean our desks, finalize syllabi and even attend some trainings and professional development meetings that we would not have time for during the semester. So, amidst the organizing, planning and preparation for the coming semester, Amber, Danielle and I also took part in some awesome learning opportunities.


This past Tuesday, the SPDC team participated in an Ally Training. Matthew Antonio Bosch, the Director of Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA Center, led the training and educated us about the latest identity terminology and LGBTQIA history, and guided us in discussion about real-life scenarios.  It was an important, interactive and informative training. You can follow the Gender and LGBTQIA Center on Facebook and Twitter to learn more!

WWWLuncheonFollowing up to Tuesday, the three fellows and our colleague Aisha Mitchell drove to the Alamance County Women’s Resource Center where we attended a Working Women’s Wednesday luncheon. Guest speaker, Alexandra Zagbayou, shared about her role as High School Program Director of Student U in Durham. Through sharing her story and describing her work, Alexandra challenged everyone in the room to think critically about our society and what we are doing to build stronger individuals and communities through education.  You can follow Student U on Facebook and Twitter to learn more!

Today is the last day of Fake Break and classes begin tomorrow.  Have a great start to the spring semester and we’ll check in soon!

First Things First

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

This past week has consisted of a lot of firsts (and last firsts – if that even makes sense!):

  • My first independent conversation with a parent.
  • My first conversation with an alum.
  • My first conversation with a campus staff member about their next step in their career journey.
  • My last class of my first Winter Term where I co-taught a Transition Strategies “Life After Elon” class with my co-fellow Amber.
  • And, I finished my first time being a part of a book club and committing myself to 3 weeks of conversation and reflection on the book 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. (All I can say about this book is, wow!)

What have all of these experiences shown me? That I can actually do a lot, and that my time as a Fellow continues to develop as my dabbling continues to grow, and as long as people continue to look for support and guidance with their futures, my name always has the potential of being passed around. Fortunately, it is a very good reason for my name (smiles!) which is increasing my network as well (cue, more smiles).thumbsup

It is very exciting! And do you know what else I have discovered? I have enjoyed every single aspect of these diverse conversations (all of them just happening to fit within a weeks’ time). It is these experiences that I have listed above and many others (can refer to Amber’s post below) that continues to provide me with firsthand experience in career services every single day. It also reminds me that a lot of people have the same concerns: that they want to be successful in their future (or for their child to have a successful future). A common thread I recognized between all three of these individuals (and the students in my Transition Strategies class) is that of motivation. If an individual is willing to self-motivate regarding their future, other beneficial things will come down the pipeline as well: Preparation, time-management, focus, and determination. This is an effective formula. If a person is willing to make a change regarding their future, they must first find motivation (most likely from within). It starts to “stir the pot”, gets “the juices flowing”. The end result? Results! The worst case scenario? At least a step in a direction (even if it is not in the right direction).

I also look forward to my weekend commitments as I will be experiencing my first men’s basketball game of my time while here at Elon and my first theater production for this year from Elon’s talented group of theater majors. I continue to dive headfirst into both my professional and personal experiences while at Elon. North Carolina continues to amaze me, and as my fellowship ends in May, I am making sure that every moment counts, whether it is going to be my first or my last moment.

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.


Mirror, Mirror…A Time for Reflection and Growth

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow


This past weekend was Thanksgiving (can you say a wicked fast 4 day mini-vacation), and I spent the extended weekend with my roommate and her family. It was relaxing, rejuvenating and filled with lots of laughs, perfectly timed for the last two weeks before I depart home (New Hampshire) for the holiday break. I also jumped on a pogo stick for the first time in about 15 years, and it was absolutely thrilling. Just like riding a bicycle, it came right back, after a few trials and wobbles, I was soon quickly pogoing as I did when I was 10 years old. Initially unsteady and nervous, teetering and balancing at best with one foot on the pogo and one on the pavement, I gradually stepped up the challenge from doing one pogo, growing my confidence, and then trying again and doing a second round of successful pogos before falling off. Before I knew it, I was pogoing with one hand, showing off my newest talent to the approving audience (a small, but engaging 3 member audience). Putting the pogo stick back in its resting place, I gently stretched out my quads, using muscles that I haven’t used in quite some time. It reminded me of the gently aging process, putting a smile on my face and reflecting upon childhood and the many of hours spent in my driveway playing and pogoing to my heart’s content.

What have you done recently (either personally or professionally) that encouraged you to step outside of your comfort zone? Were you initially hesitate and unsure of yourself? After you tried, no matter how small of a try, did you completely fall over or did you wobble? Were you able to steady yourself and get back up on your feet and try again? When you tried again, did the world look on and watch? Did you eventually succeed?  Did you see yourself grow, either personally or professionally, from this experience? Have you reflected upon this experience? If not, it is never too late to get started!

As I give presentations on the topic of interviewing, I always remind students that interviewing is a skill and that it takes practice. A point that I emphasize is that of reflection after the interview. What went well? What was challenging? Where did you see yourself really making the connections and being concise and clear? What stories did you tell that were strong? What questions caught you off guard? How can you improve for next time? I have found myself reflecting after each presentation I give, after every interaction to encourage me to learn from that experience and grow. A time spent without reflection, is a time spent without learning from potentially educationally stimulating opportunities. I have found the reflections in my day-to-day happenings, meaningful and essential to growth. Reflecting and taking the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, whether it be personally or professionally, can offer great opportunity and smiles, even if it is as simple as jumping on a pogo and feeling like you can conquer the world.

Season of Service

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

Service means…

“…community and uplift”

“…giving the best of yourself to others”

“…being a part of something bigger than yourself”

“…seeing the world from a new lens”

“…making a difference even in the smallest ways”

“…submitting yourself to help others”


“…finding the irreplaceable joy that comes from helping others”


“…spending time with those less fortunate”

Advertising at College Coffee..."What does Service mean to you?"

Advertising at College Coffee…”What does Service mean to you?”

What does service mean to you?  We asked students this while we were tabling at College Coffee in early November, and those were a few of the responses we received.

The Student Professional Development Center, in partnership with other offices across campus, just recently completed a series of programs focusing on #ServiceYear, which is an initiative headed by The Franklin Project that encourages students to commit to a year of service following graduation.

The “Making a World of Difference” program series began on October 28th when Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International visited campus to share his insights on service and finding personal fulfillment.  On November 6th, five alumni participated in a panel to share their experiences and answer questions about non-profit organizations.  On November 11th the office hosted a Service Resume Workshop to help students prepare their resume, personal statements, and cover letters.  Finally, the culminating event in the series was the Service Expo, which hosted 16 organizations for students to talk with concerning service opportunities. It was a successful series of programs and it gave students the resources to plan for their #ServiceYear.

In this season of thankfulness and giving back, what does service mean to you?  Share your comments with us!

Embrace the Interruptions

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

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!