Weighing Future Opportunities

By Megan Reilly  

As a second year grad student, most of my cohort is gearing up the upcoming job search. As of today, I don't find myself in the same job search boat as many of my peers. This is because I am not in an assistantship that ends when I graduate and I consider myself very lucky to already have full time employment at the university. However, the point of working towards a new degree is obviously to do my job better and eventually move up the ranks -- so I know that I will at some point be looking for more responsibilities and more opportunities to use my shiny new masters degree. That may mean staying exactly where I am. But that may also mean embarking on a full-fledged job search. Which, quite frankly terrifies me a little bit.

The first component of the job search that makes me nervous is that I am restricting myself geographically. I uprooted my life and started over in a new place about a year before starting grad school. This is now my third year living in this wonderful city and I’ve made it my home. I've been told that limiting myself in this way may be harmful to my career and that I should be willing to go wherever the job takes me. But if we as a field really believe in work-life balance, I truly believe I can (and should) have both the work and the life that personally bring me the most fulfillment. But there's still that voice in my head that has me worried. The dangerous What-If’s start bouncing around my head.

The second component is something my peers are quite familiar with: FOMO. Fear of missing out is a huge concern of mine when selecting the next position I take. More specifically, I am worried that I will accept a new position and almost immediately afterwards find out of a great (better) opportunity that I should've waited for or anticipated. I want to love my next job and although it may not be my dream job, I want to feel like it is where I belong, with no doubts. I'm not sure that is possible but that's the goal.

The last one is something I also think is relatable to anyone embarking on a job search, barring only those who I envy for being unapologetically, tunnel-vision focused on pursuing their career in ONE functional area without any hesitation or consideration of other options. I wish I could be so sure of anything. But I wasn't a two year old child who knew I wanted to be a Greek advisor or a college student with laser-sharp focus on their goal of being a career center advisor. In fact, because of my policy concentration and my proximity to many of the leading research and advocacy organizations in higher education, I am not even convinced that student affairs is going to be the only place I focus my job search.

As a mentor of mine once told me, having options is inevitable when you are passionate about something because people will want to channel that passion and have you on their team. And if the alternative is not having options and being stuck doing one thing that I may or may not love, I guess I will take the difficult decision(s) that will no doubt be on my and my peers' minds over the next several months.

Follow me on Twitter @MReilly90 and feel free to email me at meganreilly90@gmail.com if you are attending this week's ASHE conference in DC!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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