Friday, July 15, 2016

Getting the experience!

For was long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting jobs due to lack of experience.

I cannot explain the level of upsetedness I feel when I see “3-5 years of experience” as a position requirement. I’ll find the perfect position at an amazing location. Then after I spend a good amount of time reading the description and envisioning my future life, there it is…3 years of experience required.

And my immediate response is “how do you expect me to GET experience if no one will hire me without having experience?!”

So when I was accepted into Bloomsburg’s College Student Affairs program I knew I needed to secure a graduate assistantship to gain an ample amount of experience in two brief years. I applied to every available opportunity, and was lucky enough to be offered a position with the Living and Learning Communities. Wanting a position in fraternity and sorority life (FSL) upon completion of my M.Ed., I was worried that I would have insufficient direct Greek Life experience (post undergrad) to get hired in the FSL area.

I carried this thinking around for a really long time. I started to volunteer with my national sorority by assisting chapters across the U.S. and, wherever possible, built my course assignments around Greek Life topics. However, I still did not feel like this was enough to remain relevant or marketable to prospective employers.

It wasn’t until my second year in the CSA program, while working with the Compass LLC, that I shared my worry with my supervisor, Jennifer Hunsinger. She advised me to research open FSL positions and find specific experiences that were desired. I made a list of responsibilities that I had not had experience in and areas that I thought I still needed to improve on. From that list, Jennifer and I CREATED the experiences that I needed to get my desired job!

Soon, I was on the university’s formal hearing board, facilitating classroom workshops, building programs, creating outcome assessments, writing reports, and so much more! Having my volunteer work with my national organization and getting really involved with student affairs at BU, I still felt like I needed that direct FSL experience. So I picked up the phone and called Matthew Richardson, Coordinator of FSL at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, he was able to meet with me three days later and offered me an internship! In January of 2016, I moved to Pittsburgh and spent over 350 hours (100 hours over the requirement for the field experience course) working with the FSL community.

I am sharing this to remind your to concentrate on the things you can control when you’re stressing out about finding your first professional job and to be proactive about them. The amount of worrying I was doing about not having experience was not helping me get experience. I sought out and created the experiences needed to be marketable for a job after my time at Bloomsburg came to an end. The entire job search was still overwhelming.

However, with the support of the student affairs professional staff, I was confident that I did everything over the two years of the College Student Affairs program to gain the experiences needed. Creating my experiences certainly paid off: I just hit my one-month mark of my first professional position within fraternity and sorority life!

— Jill Franklin, M.Ed., college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

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