Grads

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What’s it like to be a…Dean of Students?

My job title is:  Dean of Student Development

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
My daily schedule has some consistencies with regular one-on-one meetings with my staff or weekly committee meetings but also varies from week to week depending upon the time of year and the responsibilities I have for that time of the semester.  I tend to have one-on-one meetings with my staff in the mornings. I often attend chapel and eat lunch on-campus.  And typically, my afternoons are filled with committee meetings, appointments with students and attending to other details of my work (reading, e-mail, etc.).

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I got my start as a Resident Assistant (RA) in college.  A couple years after I graduated, in large part due to my enjoyment of being an RA, I began graduate school in higher education administration while also serving as a Resident Director (RD).  I have continued working in higher education ever since.  I am in my 11th year here at Calvin (not including the 2 years after completing my masters degree, when I worked here as an RD).  Prior to this I was Dean of Student Development at Malone College for 9 years.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/11 at 11:54 AM
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Monday, November 03, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Registered Dietitian?

My job title is: Registered Dietitian (RD)
My actual position is: Coordinator of Corporate Wellness & Sustainability

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

My position as a Registered Dietitian for a food service management company is somewhat unique.  I travel to around the country and provide nutrition education, menu, sanitation, and sustainability planning for my company’s accounts.  My position has changed quite a bit since I took it six years ago.  As environmental concerns have gained attention, many companies were called to action, including mine.  I became the coordinator of our sustainability program, which was a big challenge as this wasn’t exactly part of the curriculum when I attended school.  I’ve learned that the environment and nutrition are even more intrinsically linked than I originally thought and that has greatly influenced how I look at food and nutrition.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/03 at 11:15 AM
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What’s it like to be an….ELS Instructor/Academic Counselor?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
I’ve only been in this job for two months – and I’m loving it!  I teach an English class that is specifically designed for international students so we talk about American academic culture, culture shock, and how to juxtapose home cultures with school cultures.  This class meets three times a week for one hour.  The rest of my time is spent meeting with students who are on academic probation, advising my English students, and designing my next lesson.  Each day is different.  This job is only a ½ time job, but I spend most of my day at work creating and developing ideas.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/03 at 11:10 AM
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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Retail Manager?

My job title is: In Store Lingo—-Executive Team Lead/Guest Experience
In English: Assistant Store Manager in charge of guest experience

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

My job does not have a “normal” day. My peers and I rotate on what we call an LOD or Leader on Duty shift. This means I am in charge of the entire store and what takes place that day. I am in charge of how it looks, responding to guest complaints and compliments, driving sales and credit conversion, as well as making sure my team shows up to work and is having a fun yet productive day.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/30 at 02:40 PM
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Monday, September 08, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Personal Trainer?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
The life of a personal trainer changes from day to day depending on the time of the year, the day of the week, and also the responsibilities you have for the day.  Summers for personal trainers can often be slow due to the nice weather and summer vacations.  During the fall the gym picks up and people are more into being fit for the next few months to come (which makes no sense to me when you’re all covered up in the fall and winter).
On a normal day I will arrive at the gym 15 minutes before my first client.  When I arrive, I normally check the client’s file to go over what we did during the last session and plan for the next one.  For the most part, you know what you’re going to do with the client but you need to get it down on paper so the workout has a flow to it.  The times when your clients schedule their training sessions will determine if you have breaks in your day or if you’re seeing people back to back.
During down time you can workout, run errands, or just prep for the next client. 

On some days the trainers are required to work on the floor at the gym, doing a variety of tasks.  Things like cleaning the gym and equipment, assisting others, and just hanging out in the gym for help if needed.

Now when I first started out at the gym, my biggest thing was trying to meet new people and introduce myself so that people could get to know me.  This was a time for me to show them what I could offer them as a personal trainer.  Once I started working with clients, the people that I trained started to refer clients to me and that is how I get most of my business now.  As times goes on, you no longer work on the floor as often due the fact that most of your time spend at the gym is with clients. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/08 at 01:56 PM
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What’s it like to be a…Human Relations/Labor Relations Manager?

My actual position is: HR/Labor Relations Manager and I am also responsible for Safety and Hourly Employment activities.

What does a normal day look like?
Up at 4:30 a.m., drive to work at 5:30 a.m., thank the Good Lord for all of His blessings and another wonderful day. To work by 6:00 a.m., get coffee and fire up laptop, check Lotus Notes, voice mail and then start my day. No two days are the same, what happens from 6:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. just depends… When you are in the “People Business” you have to just roll with it. Being in HR/LR, your customer is anyone who walks through the door with an issue or problem. It is important to welcome them and focus all of your attention on them and their issues. You must make them feel they are the most important person at that moment. Be positive, calm and polite. The phone, the computer and others at the door can all wait. Always remember to try and walk in the other person’s shoes to try and understand their issues or perspectives.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/08 at 01:39 PM
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What’s it like to be a….School Social Worker?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day for me consists of seeing kids in the school setting who need counseling services for social and emotional concerns or behavioral problems. I also meet with teachers on a regular basis to talk about concerns they have regarding students.  I then can offer suggestions and a variety of accommodations and modifications that the teacher can make in their classroom to help that student be more successful. I also spend a large amount of time attending IEP meetings for students who require special education services.

School social work has changed over the years in the sense that school social workers are not pulling kids out on a regular basis from class for counseling sessions. We are now looking to work collaboratively with teachers in the classroom setting to help their students be successful within their learning environment without having to be removed from class for long periods of time.

School social workers also need to be extremely proficient and up to date with the latest special education initiatives and laws as a large part of your role is leading and facilitating IEP meetings for special education students. At these meetings, you help the special education team decide which services are most appropriate for the student in the school setting to best help them be academically and socially successful. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/02 at 10:49 AM
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Monday, July 07, 2008

What’s it like to be a .....Curator of Archives?

Check out the following for a glimpse into a curator’s world, where multi-tasking and creative thinking are essential survival tools:

Q. What does your typical day look like?
A.Typically I spend the first hour of the day answering email, which comes from around the world; usually inquiring about resources available in our collections. 
○ Then I move on to specific projects underway, which can range from reviewing finding aids for processed collections, to producing reports (including statistical summaries) of date we collect   for the college, the seminary, or the denomination (we serve as the archives for all three). 
○Probably ten percent of my time every week is spent in some sort of committee related function. 
○ Throughout the day I am on-call for researchers who come in and have questions about the collections – from genealogists to post-doctoral scholars.
○ I determine which collections to acquire and then spend time working on acquiring those collections. This requires a sense of what data is or may become of interest to the wide range of   researchers that will visit our collection.
○ I work on the various administrative functions (budget, personnel, etc.) necessary to run the department.
○I spend time researching and doing some writing on the history of the three member institutions (denomination, college, seminary), some of this writing is intended for publication.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/07 at 11:09 AM
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Friday, July 04, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Marketing Specialist?

Marketing Specialist at a multi-national footwear company:

A typical day for me starts with checking my email.  Usually there are orders to be filled for the sales people out on the road or questions from the creative department on the projects that we are working on.  Throughout the day I do the majority of my work on the computer.  I use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher to work on catalogs and buyers guides, filling orders, coming up with and proofing ads, etc. 

This is usually pretty consistent throughout the year.  My focus changes a little bit depending on if we are working on a new line of shoes or not.  A new line of shoes means a new catalog and that makes things a little busier.  Also, after a new line comes out the sales people are making more visits to accounts so usually requests for orders are more frequent. 

I started my career path working in shoe sales, but I also interned on Capitol Hill, worked as an administrative assistant, and managed a retail clothing boutique. 
I came to the company where I am at now because a friend of mine worked here.  I was looking for a new job and she told me that I could forward my resume to her boss.  I came in to meet with him for an informational meeting.  When a position opened up, they thought of me for the job and, after interviewing, I was offered my position.

In terms of educational background, I received a BA in business and political science from Calvin.  I feel that my education, combined with my work experience is very beneficial in my position.  I gained confidence in my writing and presentation skills while an intern.  I learned leadership and problem solving while working in retail and I learned multitasking and office skills while working as an administrative assistant.  I feel that all of those skills make someone in my position successful.

One of the greatest rewards of this position is being able to see a finished product after hard work.  Completing catalogs or seeing the final version of an ad is exciting.  A good day is one that is busy with all different kinds of work.

The biggest trend/change I see in the future is the shift towards technology.  In the next 5-10 years it will be essential for people to have a good understanding of computers and technology because that is where we are headed.

For further information on marketing careers, check out American Marketing Association‘s Career Management/Ask the Expert link.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/04 at 09:47 AM
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What’s it like to be a ____? (series intro)

Freshmen ask. Seniors ask. Even grads arrive in my office with variations on the same question. Sometimes even wistfully, they ask something to this effect, “I’d like to know where to go with my major/gifts/talents, but how do I find out what’s out there?”

Good question. How do you know where to head if you don’t know what the destination will look like? What’s it like to be a doctor, lawyer, or social worker? Or going beyond the obvious, what’s it like to be a child life specialist, a credit analyst, an archivist? A marketing specialist or actuary? What do these people do every day and how do you know if it will a good fit for you in particular? 

Of course, there’s always the web. One can start researching careers at sites like Career Browser or the gold standard of them all, O*Net. Great sites. Helpful information but, at best, still generic. Not personalized. Not necessarily what you have been gifted to do.

What I typically suggest is that people follow up with their own informational interviews, i.e. that they spend time with a professional who can pass along rubber-meets-the-road type of advice. Stuff you can’t get from books.

So to help students in that fact finding endeavor, I have decided to put on my own research cap and run a series of blog entries straight from the mouths of professionals in the field. It’s all up and coming under the title of “What’s it like to be a ______?” So check out the forthcoming stories or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you’re interested in letting students know what you do every day.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/01 at 02:26 PM
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Getting back in gear…

Re-starting a blog is just like any other lapsed activity. One has to exert a significant amount of energy to kick start before momentum takes over. Take exercise, for example. Due to a lengthy post-surgery recovery last summer, I found myself slouching rather than standing, panting rather than breathing and discouraged rather than hopeful. The way back to functional fitness looked like the proverbial mountain. But with a little help from my trainer-friends at the local health club and a lot of persistence, I’m back to where I was a year ago—or almost.

So too with the job search. Seniors arrive on my (office) door step in various stages of preparedness, from those just getting started to those in need of an encouraging word after months of seemingly fruitless searching. The point is, they come. One at a time. Scared or enthused.

If you find yourself with your head in the sand, ignoring all that awaits after graduation, start the first step by showing up. Because despite the dismal prognosis filling even the most positive of publications, people are still uncovering opportunities, finding jobs and moving on.

To quote The Source: as your day, so shall your strength be.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/02 at 02:41 PM
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Friday, April 28, 2006

Readers Question: Should I go to law school?

Dear Aunt Bonnie-
I’m a junior who’s finally chosen a major. After considering a number of them, including education and social work, I finally chose English because I love to write. I also want to help people, as you can see from the majors I considered but did not choose. It seems like my best choice might be law. Then I can write and help people at the same time. What do you think about my idea?
James

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/28 at 09:19 AM
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Friday, April 21, 2006

Take the quiz before you get the box

Some of my blog titles have admitedly been a bit obscure. So much so that sometimes I find myself reading a list of previous titles and wondering what I managed to stuff into the blog body.

So let me be right up front about this one. The quiz refers to what’s to follow, namely a quiz on how well you’re doing at your current job. Pass it and you might not receive “the box”, i.e. the one you pack with your personal belongings just before security or someone less scary escorts you out the door. For good. Often as not, that lonely walk happens on a Friday afternoon. So, check out the quiz instead.

(Hint: true or false answers work the best.)

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/21 at 12:52 PM
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Resume Objectives—real life examples

I’m looking at a veritable tower of resumes—all real life samples from different colleges and universities—so my desk resembles that of an employer overwhelmed with choices. Lots of competition for perhaps one or two job openings. So since I’ve got this pile of gold here, I thought I’d pass along a number of objectives and let you draw your own conclusions about candidate potential.

Note: Though these objectives are all directed towards education, they highlight typical resume objective foibles.

With no further ado, then, check out the following:

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/20 at 02:19 PM
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Job Fair Insights: From the mouth of a recruiter

Put yourself in this person’s place. You’re a recruiter for a coveted school district knowing that it will take the person at the end of the line 90 minutes to reach first place. By the end of the day, you will have collected 400 resumes for two open positions. How do you possibly sort through the crowd?

Well, a lunch time conversation did much to demystify the process. According to one recruiter, candidates are rated on three criteria.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/13 at 12:59 PM
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