Job Happiness Continued

Did all the job searchers survive the placement exchanges: OPE, TPE, ACPA?

My last post was geared towards helping graduate students get a job that would encourage professional and personal growth, as well as enhance their happiness.

As I have a mini obsession with the concept of happiness. I have been reflecting on my own search process and how I determined where I would be most happy.

After some quick digging I found my infamous job search excel sheet. No one has EVER seen this excel sheet, so feel honored to be privy to such important information. Please. Not really, but just a little.

This document has everything from contact information to interview dates and times, from salary to initial reactions during my interview. But what intrigues me most is my rating scale. I have an affinity to use my left-brain (probably why I ended up at Mines), and so I devised five categories and rated them from zero to one. Decimals were absolutely acceptable.

These were my 5 categories:
  • Do I get to supervise a graduate student? (This was apparently very important to me then.) 
  • Will I be personally happy? (Are friends or family in the area?) 
  • Do I like the location? (Are there fun things to do? Is it sunny?) 
  • How is my supervisor? (Would s/he be focused on helping me be a better professional? Would s/he provide new opportunities? Would s/he be flexible?) 
  • Is the department a good fit? (Would I work well with colleagues? Do I like how things are run?  

These numerical values actually helped me understand institutions I was really leaning towards.

Out of 5 possible points, Mines scored a 4.4. There were only a few above, but quite a few below.

  • Do I get to supervise a graduate student? (.8) I get to supervise 5 undergraduate Hall Directors and help them supervise their 21 RAs. Close enough. 
  • Will I be personally happy? (.8) I didn’t have any family, and only a small handful of friends in the region, but it was only a hop, skip, and a jump from Arizona (home) and I liked the people I would work with, so good enough. 
  • Do I like the location? (1) I remember being so in love with Golden, Colorado the first time I visited. The hiking and running trails were enticing. And the small town feel, coupled with the close vicinity to metropolitan Denver was perfect. 
  • How is my supervisor? (1) Awesome. Hands down. Awesome. 
  • Is the department a good fit? (.8) Smaller, not exactly what I was used to, but it seemed like it would be good. I think I was mostly concerned about not having set professional development funds. Now I know that was silly. We only must ask and we receive. 
These were my first impressions written in my excel:
great professionals, small department, intelligent student population; great feel

Ultimately, I think I picked well.
So I ask again: What makes you happy?
Maybe it’s a few of the same things I chose to evaluate my experience. Maybe you have others. Maybe you think a numerical evaluation of your next career move is dumb. That’s okay with me. As long as you find a way to make a decision that will result in your happiness.

I know too many people who are not happy with their jobs. Don’t be one of them!!

Katie Schmalzel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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