On the day they announced who was hired and who wasn’t, I found out I had been placed on an alternate list. In some ways, I believe this lit a fire beneath me. I worked closely with the housing department to improve my application and was offered a position over the summer when they had a surprise opening. I fell in love with the RA position. It’s hard to explain, but from time to time you just have the feeling that you are in the right place at the right time.
Over the last summer at college, I spoke with the housing department Director and asked if there were any summer job opportunities which may involve using my programming skill-set. I was then put in charge of an alcohol alternative program series where I was tasked with creating a large-scale program every week of the academic year on Thursday nights. This program had a $55,000 budget and although it eventually died out due to funding restraints, it had set me apart from other students when I was applying for a graduate program. I received my undergrad degree in Biology in 2012 and married my two loves of science and housing by creating a capstone project based on water quality in the residence halls and installing hydration stations in each residential building.
My story continued in North Carolina where I received a Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel. While attending to my studies, I held an Assistantship as an Assistant Resident Director in a first-year building as well as an upper-level building. I also learned other important skillsets by interning at a Student Union for a semester, being an ACUHO-I summer intern in Florida and teaching an RA class as well as a class dedicated toward leadership through the lens of masculinity. I also tried to get as involved as I could in various committee work and learned how other departments operated. This was also when I first started brainstorming ideas about a website called Luminstruct which could provide resources to Student Leaders as well as full-time professionals. Life was moving quickly and I loved every second of it! After graduating with a 4.0 GPA from my grad program, I travelled back down to Georgia to be the Chief Housing Officer at Piedmont College.
In closing, there are a few major points I want to convey for individuals still in college or are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.
- Life is unpredictable, be flexible, but also don’t lose who you are: It is important to realize that our lives are constantly in a state of flux and are evolving with every passing day. Although I am not a Biology teacher as I had planned, I took the time to realign my priorities and found that I was still meant to be a teacher, but more of a teacher of life skills. Things don’t always turn out the way you planned, be willing to constantly reassess where you have been and where you are going. Take a chance and ride life’s crazy wave!
- Use your failures as learning opportunities: You can get very far in life with a positive outlook and seeing the silver lining. Maybe you didn’t get the job you wanted, maybe that opening wasn’t right for you at that time or you weren’t ready for that kind of position. Take control and find out how to improve your application for the future.
- You are not alone: Every step listed above had about 3-4 mentors behind it who helped as moral support, advice givers, and resources to help get to the next step. When in doubt always ask questions, it may lead to a new summer job!