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Tuesday, May 25, 2010To Anonymous
I've been asked to write a bit more about how and why I got into college admissions, ten years ago.
Frankly, I think most admission counselors have a similar story - none of us ever grew up wanting to do that type of work. Instead, its something you sort of fall into. For me, I had a great college experience. I was really involved in a lot of activities and had a lot of pride for my school. Even though I was a television production major (and loved every minute of it!), I knew that it wasn't a profession I would pursue after graduation. I had an amazing internship at NBC and loved working in "the biz" but there was a lot of instability that came with that career. -Instability is not for me. So, I started looking toward those things that I enjoyed. Again, being involved in so many college activities, I figured WHY LEAVE? I knew a lot of the administration and would talk with them about their jobs and how they got into it. I thought that I would try to pursue a career in student activities on a college campus but didn't really know where to begin.
The summer after graduation, I was still working for my alma mater as a summer orientation leader. Lucky for me, my boss had a husband who happened to work for a school that was looking for someone to work in their admission office. He told me about the job, invited me to visit the school and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in an interview with the Dean of Admission & Financial Aid. Sitting there, I knew it was the right thing and I knew it would be in my blood for a long time to come. I worked at that job for five years and I still think it's the best job I've ever had. I learned a great deal about myself, about the educational field as a whole, about people, about communication, about empathy, and about building a thick skin. I credit a lot of my success and my professional growth to my boss. She was a tremendous mentor to me and taught me the skills that are necessary to be a good counselor and leader. She was also a great advocate of mine and gave me opportunities to stretch and grow. I still consider her a great friend and hope that I have a chance to work with her again someday.
By the way, as an early twenty-something year-old, working in college admissions is a great career. It offers an opportunity to meet some amazing people, travel the country (or internationally!), refine communication skills, and enjoy job benefits (health insurance, retirement plan, etc.). At that time in my life, I was ready to explore the world and be a bit selfish with my life. I figured I should get all of that out of my system before "settling down" and taking on those adult responsibilities. I'm really glad that I did - I have no regrets now and think I had a FABULOUS time along the way. I appreciate that my husband had the same philosophy... we look at each other and know that we can grow together as a couple while still keeping part of our individuality.
As far as advice goes on interviewing, writing a cover letter and/or resume, and building a portfolio, there is MUCH to discuss... too much to put in a post. I think that's part of the counseling aspect that should be personalized - there is no standard interview, letter or document that is a "one size fits all". Each school, just like each job, is different. I think we need to be thoughtful about what our talents are and how we can look to grow while also contributing to an organization. I could go on and on about this...
I hope to work again, sometime soon, in the realm of college counseling. I'm looking to work at the secondary school level where I hope I can help high-school aged students in their educational journey. It's what inspires me the most and gives me a sense of job-related satisfaction at the end of the day.
For now, Anonymous, I hope this is enough to help you begin to find yourself. The journey of self-discovery is a life-long process... the first step is to find something that makes you happy. Life often takes twists and turns that are unpredictable; it's about enjoying the ride and not getting too entrenched in the destination.