I got the job, now what?

by Lisa Hill

I like to have a general life plan.  It doesn’t need to be detailed or well thought out, but I like to know where I’m headed.  For the last four years, my goal was to be hired in a coordinator position working with alternative breaks and community service programs.  For the past four years I have had a distinct end goal and was confident in my life choices because I could see that they were helping me reach my goal.  I may have taken a few scenic detours, but I knew where I was going.

This summer I finally accomplished my goal, but now I feel like I’m standing still and am not sure where to head next.  Every day that I stand here without a goal, is a day that I could be moving forward.  I was able to relax and enjoy my accomplishment for about 3 months, but as of last week, stress has set in.  Where am I going next?  If I don’t have a goal, am I just wandering around aimlessly?  How do I prepare for my next job if I don’t know where I want to go and what I want to do?

To handle the stress I’ve spent time reflecting on my journey and where I’ve been.  While I haven’t set my new career goal, I have found some ways to satisfy the goal-oriented side of my mind.  Instead of focusing on a long-term career goal, I have set short-term goals for my current position.

My first goal is to find more opportunities for student interactions.  The first three months of my job I have focused on learning the position and the institution.  As a result, I have lost touch with students.  While I interact with students who attend my events, I haven’t found opportunities to invest in long-term relationships with students.  This not only is a poor professional practice, but it also makes me grumpy!  I am much happier when I’m running across campus between student meetings and events.  When I spend too much time at my desk I become less productive and dissatisfied with my job and my performance.

My second goal is to find opportunities for professional development both within and outside of my current functional area.  I entered student affairs knowing what I wanted for my first job, but I haven’t decided where my career will go.  I want to keep my options open for a career change into the nonprofit sector or any other opportunities that arise.  While I don’t have a specific goal, I can still find educational opportunities that will be beneficial regardless of my next steps.  I may not know where I am headed but that doesn’t mean that I have to stand still.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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