Thursday, December 08, 2005
There’s a little plaque which graces my wall. It’s rather crude and obviously made by hand. But I picked it up from a street vendor a number of years ago because of the saying, “Do your homework and know your facts. But remember, it’s passion that persuades.”
I’ve posted a number of blogs over the last few months on choosing a major and career decision making but not much about passion, most likely because there’s a part of me that thinks passion, in the sense of “do what you totally love”, is over rated. There are few people indeed who remain passionate about their careers. Reality sets in sooner or later. Hopefully, what they do day to day will hold a core of meaningful activity amidst the minutia of seemingly irrelevant details.
But when you connect passion—defined here as what keeps you up at night; what you long to see righted, fixed or restored; or, more positively perhaps, what brings you joy—with life calling, the two concepts help set life direction which transcends specific jobs or careers.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Talking turkey at Christmas time….or, some thoughts for parents
So, did “the topic” come up over Thanksgiving break? If you have an underclassman in the family, the question might have run something like this: so, have you decided on a major yet? Taken any courses which look interesting and might lead to something? For parents of seniors, the tactful, roundabout approach may have been abandoned for something more direct like—so, what are you planning on doing after gradutation?
In case your questions ended in a very short conversation, Johnson and Schelhas-Miller in their recent book, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years, include some very helpful advice.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
What you don’t need to know first
I was talking with a very bright sophomore this morning about choosing a major. With a next- semester-choosing-a-major-deadline looming, he was still not sure about what to go. When I suggested he come in to talk it over, his reply was that he couldn’t do that because he couldn’t come in with any ideas.
Actually, Not/Nada/Nope. You don’t need to come in with ideas. That’s where we, the career counselors, come in. We’re here to listen and talk things over, to look for and discover together your strengths. So, all you who are waiting until things clear up, wait no more. Just show up. We’ll do the figuring out part together.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Whether it’s an intimate conversation at home or high stakes discussion at work, everyone eventually needs a bit of advice on handling heated conversations. And that’s what I came across this week in my search for conflict management material, a nifty little web site on
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.
You can, of course, purchase the book through this site. But they also offer free material, stuff to launch your self assessment boat as you explore your (conversational) Style Under Stress or fill in a second questionaire designed to help determine how well your family, team, and organization handle crucial confrontations.
In summary, let me close with one of the following maxims. Or rather you can close with the phrase of your own choosing (hey, it’s Friday afternoon when one cannot expect profundity or maybe even lucidity):
—a stitch in time saves nine
—to be forewarned is to be forearmed
—bad choice makers end up as wrong road takers (a rather homey aphorism I just made up upon exiting today’s blog).
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Employer comment on choosing a major….
With input too lengthy for the comment section, a local employer emailed me directly with her perspective on choosing a major. Read on for her sage advice….
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Can career counselors wave magic wands?
Envision the following scenario:
Person X wakes up full of hope. While brushing their teeth, an internal dialogue goes something like this….“ah, today’s my appointment with that career counselor. Finally. It took me three weeks to get in. But by the end of the day I’ll know (choose one) a) what I should major in
b) which career I should choose c) where there’s a decent job opening.” That kind of internal monolgue would bring a smile to anyone’s face, right?
As much as I would like to, however, I cannot do any of the above. I would love to know which major/career is perfect for every person and have a pocket full of job openings waiting to be filled. But I don’t. And sometimes people leave without the 100% clarity on the next step they were wishing for.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The not-by-sight journey
In the few spare minutes I’ve had today between appointments, my mind’s been wandering in a few directions which, after more thought, seem to be related.
One part of me is still relishing an appointment with a student I got to know a few years ago, not long after her near fatal accident which left her with significant brain damage. I could rightly nickname her “Smile Girl” because that’s all I’ve ever seen on her face, despite the pain, set backs and struggles she’s gone through. And she’s put that smile to good use when she’s gone back to the hospital to encourage and mentor other accident victims. “College? Sure!” she tells them. “It just might take a little bit longer.” Who would have thought that Smile Girl herself would now be a senior looking towards graduation?
Friday, October 21, 2005
Another resource for choosing a major
I met with a student today who was shying away from a major she loves because she didn’t think it could lead to any careers in the future. Yes, what does one do with a philosophy major?
Well, there’s a link on our Career Development web site just chock full of that sort of information. In fact, most students react with that eye brow raising look of surprise when we visit it together.
So, check it out. And, if you’re a student here, be sure to follow up with a visit to your local career counselor so that we can develop a plan that’s right for you.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Upper class-person advice on first year stress
Comment of the day today comes from ChiChi, a female student who’s weathered the academic storms for a few years now. Here’s her advice worth reading:
... I just want to tell the freshmen and sophomores (especially those who feel like they have it all planned out, or that they need to), it is OK to not know what the next semester is going to look like. Some people are probably freaking out cos they started the semester thinking, ďXYZ is going to be my major, and I am going to do ABC with it and become a successful EFGĒ, but now that they are taking the classes required for that major, they have realized that they donít really like it as much as they thought they would.
Well, donít get all stressed about it. Honestly, I will tell you (and this is out of my own personal experience), you may not be 100% sure about what you want to major in until your junior year. My AER has changed about 5 times up until now. I am not saying slack off and donít decide what you are going to do with your life, but donít freak out if you donít. It will all work out eventually.
As always, I’d love to hear from others who have changed their majors. If you’re new to this process, just click on the comments link to add your thoughts.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
It doesn’t take an astute observer to notice increased stress on everyone’s faces. A typical reply to the generic “how’re you doing?” invariably runs something like…“great but really busy.”
Given that context, is it any wonder that I’m seeing so many freshmen with worried expressions on their faces? Add up their composite stressors—leaving home, adjusting to a room mate, coping with loads of homework, fitting in a social life, adding a job, juggling relationship issues—and it’s a wonder that there are still so many smiles.
So today’s blog is really along the lines of “auntie” advice. To any and every freshman reading this….get through your first semester and, as much as possible, postpone the big major-choosing and life-long-career decisions for another semester at least. Unless you’re decisions revolve around pre-professional programs with their more restricted course selections, give yourself some time to explore the plethora of core courses. What you love and what you hate within those offerings will be part of the open and closed doors along the way.
So, listen to your Aunt Bonnie and take 10 minutes today to head outside, let the wind blow through your hair, smell the fall in the air and catch a glimpse of the turning leaves on the trees. Catch the glory of the Lord in the moment.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Treasure hunting at your local job fair
Tis the season. Yes, even news paper columnists are commenting premature retail Christmas ornaments lining store isles.
But the season I’m thinking of is the annual round of college job fairs. Here at Calvin we run ours cooperatively with a consortium of colleges and universities, drawing a sizable crowd of employers.
So you may be thinking…what’s the deal with the treasure hunt subject line?
Monday, October 03, 2005
Freshman advice from a sophomore who survived the the first year
If you’ve been reading any of my blog entries, you’ll know that most of my good ideas come from the people I meet. Life would be boring without the constant stream of interesting people who cross my door.
So, I decided today to ask my friend/student worker/consultant-on-real-student-life for ideas on today’s blog. She promptly came up with a list of student, especially freshmen, related comments. Some of them fun and some serious.
Here are Jamie’s Top Four Tips: (Or “What’s Good Enough to Sound Like it Came from
a Parent but is Straight from a Student’s Mouth”)
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The nitty gritty of choosing a major
With the verdict still out on how relevant specific majors are to final careers (aside from pre-professional program, that is), the point remains. Sooner or later you have to choose. So how do you go about doing that?
The following are selected tips I typically share with undecided students.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Who cares about a college major?
Though most of my freshman appointments of late have revolved around their first year experience course, aka Prelude, self assessment assignment, the second most commonly raised issue is—-
What Should I Major In? I met with one person this week who had changed his major within the first week. Quick thinking on his part.
But the fact is with varying degrees of angst, as you may know from reading my posting advice from a senior, around 70% of all freshmen change their major that first year.
Before getting to the nitty gritty of selecting a major, some people wonder if it even matters what major you choose.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Top liberal arts skills
For those students looking ahead or those grads seeking to market your liberal arts background, the National Association of Colleges and Employers includes these skills and qualities in their description of the Perfect Candidate…