Don’t Look Down On Me Because I Am Young

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The hardest thing about being a young professional is the feeling that no one values, respects or trusts you.

Starting a new job comes with many ups and downs and rewards and challenges, along the way. I think this is especially true when it comes to young professionals entering the field.  When I started my job a few months ago, I had so many expectations and I was so excited.

Now, months later, I find myself feeling defeated and overcome with frustration.

I’ve tried to look at my situation from all viewpoints. I even bought a book called “Generations at Work” for crying out loud. But at the end of the day, you hired me…you CHOSE me.

So why do I feel like I still need to prove myself every. single. day. ? Because, I’m young. I don’t know the first thing about (fill in the blank).

I’m not saying young professionals shouldn’t have to work hard, gain trust, and earn respect. But to question every move and decision made, tells your employee you don’t have faith they can get the job done. And ever so quickly, your employee loses confidence and begins to question their abilities.

As a young professional, I know I have a lot to learn. In fact, I believe learning is continuous, especially in higher education.But I also believe the way to learn is to do, and if you don’t allow me to practice and yes, make a few mistakes, you really are doing me and your office, a disservice.

Yes, I am young. But as of right now, I still have a little confidence left, and I have a lot to offer.

So next time you welcome a young professional into your office, help them grow and develop professionally, but also give them a chance to make decisions, offer ideas, and make a few mistakes along the way.

I know when I’m on the other side, I’ll remember this time in my life, and the support I would have so greatly appreciated.

A Call for Help

So as part of my internships (yes, plural), some interesting assignments found their way to me. I write this post as a way to ask for help. All of you work in a variety of areas, many of you in higher education. I’m surrounded my incredible professionals, why not pick your brilliant brains?

Okay, so here’s my call for help!

For one internship, I’ve been asked to create an employee handbook (policies & procedures) and create a presentation to discuss the new handbook. I was wondering if any of you have any great insight into policies and procedures you find to be valuable in your workplace or if you sat through any type of employee orientation? Of course, policies & procedures will differ depending on the workplace, but your insights might spark an idea for this specific workplace!

For one of my other internships with a Living Learning Community (LLC), I’ve been asked to develop a system to track students participation in workshops. For example, students must attend x number of workshops in a certain category. The advisors of the LLC want to have the ability to update each students workshop attendance, while also giving students the ability to view their record and check for any inconsistencies. 

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment field below! I value your ideas! Thanks in advance, extremely smart friends of mine!

Diversity: It’s More than Race & Color

Before I get started, let me go ahead and say, this post is in no way meant to take away from the importance of diversity & inclusion as it relates to race, color and all other areas.

NASPA_Logo_RGB smaller versionNASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. In the Student Affairs Master’s program at Clemson, we often talk about the importance of developing these professional competencies.  One of the competencies I recently started to further develop is the area of equity, diversion, and inclusion. (Honestly, in a Student Affairs program, you begin developing this competency whether you are intentional or not).

NASPA recognizes and appreciates diversity in relation to, and across the intersections of, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, veteran status, age, socioeconomic status, and disability. Believing in inclusive environments, we emphasize the importance of understanding, approaching, and owning diversity and equity from a personal, interpersonal, institutional, and global level.

When I attended the National NASPA conference in March, I attended several workshops relating to diversity. The workshops provided great information, programming, etc. to use with diversity education, but I noticed they focused on the same areas of diversity: race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Again, I truly understand the importance of educating ourselves and our students in these diverse areas, but I feel because they are such a buzz topic right now we’ve forgotten about some of the other diverse populations.

In my opinion, the forgotten about diverse area is individuals with disabilities. The word disability and whether or not you agree with its usage is another post for another day, so don’t get caught up on it for the moment.

Something happened in my office (academic advising) recently breaking my heart and encouraging this post.

To make what could be a long story, short, let me lay out a few things for you. Every student at Clemson is required to see their academic adviser in order to register for classes each semester. During the scheduled appointment advising times, a 5 minute “buffer” is in place for students to get to their appointment. Therefore, if a student has an appointment at 9:20 he/she has until 9:25 to walk in the door. After the 5 minute buffer passes, students must reschedule their appointment.

Is this a fair rule? Absolutely! The response I typically give students upset because they need to reschedule for arriving more than 5 minutes late, “Would you show up to a job interview late?”

Do I think there are times when you ignore the rule and do the right thing by the student? Absolutely! (to an extent of course)

I promise, this is making it’s way back around to diversity and inclusion.

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As far as I know, we have ONE student out of 500 in a wheelchair. This student is confined to his/her wheelchair with very little mobility in his/her arms. This student happened to show up at 9:26 for his/her appointment. That’s right, just one minute past the 5 minute buffer. I could see the frustration on their face and I just knew the tardiness was out of his control.

I pleaded through the look in my eyes for the adviser to take the student on back to their office for the advising appointment, but instead this student was told to reschedule and turned away. As my heart broke, my blood begin to boil. At this specific moment, there was nothing I could do to get the appointment to take place, but in the back of my mind I was beginning to take action.

I needed a few minutes to breathe and cool down so I took a walk around the building (inside and out). I’ve worked in this building since September and not once have I considered the accessible doors locations (or lack thereof). For a building with at least six exterior entryways, ONE of them is “accessible”. By accessible I mean, no stairs. (aka…not accessible).

I came back to my office and emailed the student. I apologized and begged him/her to help me understand the limitations he/she faces outside and inside this building and around campus. I truly wanted to advocate for the student. Yes, he/she is just ONE of our 500+ students but he/she matters just as much as the other 499.

This is an excerpt from the email I received.

First and most importantly, I want to thank you for worrying about me. It really means a lot to me and I really do appreciate it! The only thing that I have trouble with at Sirrine really are the doors because I can not open them by myself so I have to wait for somebody to open them so I can go in, but almost every building on campus is like that so it’s not a big deal.

When I read your e-mail, I got really happy because I see that there are people who care about my needs.

I cried. Bawled. You may think I took to the tissue box because a student thanked me and appreciated me and while I’m thankful I had that impact, that’s not the real reason I sobbed like a baby. This student doesn’t think it’s a big deal he can’t get in the majority of buildings on campus, because we haven’t made the effort to let him know it is a big deal. That’s what I mean by “Diversity: It’s More than Race & Color”. We’ve forgotten about every piece of diversity and inclusion. ALL our students matter and all our students deserve to be advocated for. Whether ONE of 500 or 450 of 500, our responsibility as student affairs practitioners is to advocate and make a difference in the lives of our students.

What does accessibility look like around you? You never know who may need you to look around, ask some questions, and make a difference.

Fear.

DSC_0339Boston Skyline, 2011

I don’t know why this event,  after all the nationally tragic events the past few months has gotten to me the way it has, but I felt the need to write about it.

It’s really selfish for me to take tonight to write about my worries and fears but it’s how I’m feeling and that’s what blogging is all about, right?

For some reason, the Boston bombings instilled a deep sense of fear in me. Maybe it’s because of all the national tragedies I’ve ever witnessed on TV, the only location I’ve ever visited is Boston. Maybe that made it more real for me, I’m not sure.

I watched the coverage in Boston until after 2am last night, realizing everything I was watching could be happening in my neighborhood. I thought about the campus of MIT and realized that could be Clemson. I realized while sitting in my office talking to students everyday, one of them could be in the same mental state as all the other suspects we’ve seen over the past few months.

I’m scared. I fear what may happen in on campus, in the town of Clemson, or in this region.

Today, a student came in my office and asked me if he could leave his computer in my office. He didn’t have his backpack and he didn’t want his computer to get ruined in the rain. About 10 seconds after he walked out the door I thought to myself, “should I allow students to just leave things here to be picked up later? I don’t know these students, I don’t know their motives.”

I hate I’m thinking this way. This is Clemson, SC. But that doesn’t mean anything anymore. And that…scares me.

Also, I apologize for my terrible writing in this piece.

Overwhelmed With Joy

(Left, 2007) (Right, 2011) (2013 Coming Soon)

As I’m sure you all know, I am an only child. While you may automatically start making assumptions about based on this knowledge, I can promise you I’m not the typical only child. Am I spoiled? Sure. But aren’t we all, in some way? Have I worked really hard to get where am I today? Absolutely. Anyway, that’s really not the point of this post.

The real point is, as an only child, my friends mean more than anything in the world to me. Sure, we all love and appreciate our friends, but my friends are the ones there for me through everything. I don’t have a sibling to turn to. Heck, I don’t even have a first cousin to be close too.

That’s why in 2011 when one of my best friends in the world told me he was moving to Appleton, Wisconsin, I cried like a baby…for weeks.

We both grew up in Clemson and attended Clemson for undergrad. The thing about Clemson is, most Clemson natives end up staying in Clemson for the long haul. So, when I decided to pursue my Master’s at Clemson, I made the assumption all my friends would stay too. WRONG.

My friends wanted new experiences, job opportunities forced moves, and here I was the only Clemson native who stayed. Many people think I didn’t experience a transition between undergrad and grad school, but it was/still is one of the hardest transitions I’ve ever faced.

I miss my friends. I miss my friends so, so much. I cry just typing those words because the truth is, I want to be selfish. I want my friends here, with me.

Tonight though, I got the best phone call a friend can get. “Summer, I’m moving home!” I immediately screamed and then began to cry. (He made fun of me.) Rude.  That’s the other thing about this friend, we fight…all. the. time. And I love every minute of it!

He’s not moving to Clemson, but he’s moving within driving distance. I can visit on a weekend! I don’t need a plane ticket!

Jeffrey Thomas, I can’t wait to have you “home”. We’ve been through so much in our 10 year friendship and I cannot wait to start sharing more than phone calls and holidays with you again!

Ahhhhhh! I am so freaking excited!

Why Do We Still Ask Why?

 

After a national tragedy like we saw in Boston on Monday afternoon the one question we always ask is why. Why would someone want to hurt innocent people, children? (Because they’re angry/mean/full of hate) Why? (Because someone was mean and treated them with hate) Why? Why, Why, Why? 

Some of the first words our toddlers say: “why”, “mine”. I worked in a preschool with three year olds my first year of college. If I had a dollar for every time a child asked me “why” they had to: share, be nice, do something I asked, and on and on and on, I wouldn’t work full time while pursuing a Master’s degree.

At a young age, we expect a reason for everything. We need explanation, validation. This never changes we age. We never stop asking why.

Why is the question we can almost never answer. If we do find an “answer”, it’s not the answer we want to hear. The answer to why is never good enough because we just keep asking why.

So, after the number of tragedies over the last few months, why are we still asking why? We need to make sense of something that will never, ever make sense. We need to validate a reason, when there will never, ever be a good reason. We need to understand something that will never been understood.

I’m not saying we should stop asking why. It’s not realistic. It’s human nature.  Instead of the media spending countless hours speculating and pretending that if we do come up with an “answer” to why that it will somehow change what happened, why don’t we start acting. We’re a nation with a lot of talk and a little action.

“Each one of us has the potential to positively impact the world.”

We all have the potential. As Kid President says, “If life is a game, aren’t we all on the same team?…This is your time, this is my time, this is our time. Let’s get out there.”

Maybe you think I’m naive, but I truly believe we all have the opportunity to make a difference in this crazy, scary world we live in. Start with a smile. It’s free and it goes a long way. And remember, you never know what’s going on in someone’s life. Be kind. Spread love. Enjoy laughter. Live life to the fullest.

 

The Definition of a Bittersweet Day

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As many of you know and for those who don’t, I rent the basement of a great couple, Jason and Susan. They’ve opened their home to me and I am forever grateful for the additional family I’ve gained by living here.

It’s amazing how things can change in a year. I remember writing the 1st birthday post a year ago. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in other ways it seems like it’s been forever.

This has been such an incredible week for the Smith family, yet part of my heart still aches and tears flow.

On April 9th, 2013, Susan gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl, Campbell Jane.

On April 11th, 2013, Jason & Susan went to court to officially adopt Rowan who came into the world on October 29th, 2012.

April 11th also happens to be the day that sweet Emerson Rose came into the world in 2011, making today what would have been her second birthday. Today, the Emerson Rose Act had its first reading in the House and is now moving on to the House medical affairs committee.

On Emerson’s birthday and two days before, the Smith’s added two baby girls to their family. This is the happiest times for a family, yet I can’t help but think of precious Emerson. I wonder what she would be like, her personality and mannerisms, how she would react to TWO baby sisters.

That’s what I mean by bittersweet, new life, finalized adoptions, the Emerson Rose Act going through legislation to make pulse ox screening (which will save babies lives) mandatory in SC, and Emerson’s birthday. I wish we could have a pink everything birthday party, but instead I bought fresh flowers to lay on a grave. It’s not fair and I hate this is what April 11th will always be, but I thank God for giving us Emerson, if for only 3 months. Emerson has changed more lives in her 3 months than I could ever imagine and she continues to provide blessings to heart babies and the state of South Carolina.

Some may find it odd to celebrate Emerson’s birthday, but I choose to celebrate the life of a precious angel. I choose to remember her contagious smile, and beautiful spirit. I never want Emerson’s birthday to just be another day on the calendar.

Happy 2nd birthday, sweet girl. Keep shining down.

 

 

Mid Grad School Crisis

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As many of you know, I’m a Clemson girl through and through. A few months ago I started looking at homes to buy in Clemson. I was really excited about my future at Clemson University and then all of a sudden it hit me…I want to leave Clemson!

Wait, what? Yea, I know. I thought I lost my mind as well.

When the thought of committing to Clemson truly hit me, I realized now is the time to go somewhere different and experience new things. I’m almost 25, I’m single, and a year from now, I’ll be a new professional. Now is the time to leave Clemson, at least for a while. I need the opportunity to learn who I am and who I want to be, away from Clemson, South Carolina.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I change my mind on this mid grad school crisis approximately every 45 minutes. I’ve never really handled change well and to be honest, the thought of moving away from Clemson scares the ever loving crap out of me. Then, 45 minutes later, I can’t wait to make the move, start over, and learn something new!

So, yea, that my friends is what we call mid grad school crisis.

 

 

 

 

So Small

The lyrics of this song are incredible and spoke to me today. These kids are also insanely talented. Enjoy. You’re Welcome.

 

What you got if you ain’t got love

the kind that you just want to give away

It’s okay to open up

go ahead and let the light shine through

I know it’s hard on a rainy day

you want to shut the world out and just be left alone

But don’t run out on your faith

[Chorus]

‘Cause sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand

What you’ve been up there searching for

forever is in your hands

When you figure out love is all that matters after all

It sure makes everything else

seem so small

It’s so easy to get lost inside

a problem that seems so big at the time

it’s like a river thats so wide

it swallows you whole

While you sit around thinking about what you can’t change

and worrying about all the wrong things

time’s flying by

moving so fast

you better make it count ’cause you can’t get it back

[Chorus]

Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand

What you’ve been up there searching for

forever is in your hands

When you figure out love is all that matters after all

It sure makes everything else

Seem so small

Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand

What you’ve been up there searching for

forever is in your hands

When you figure out love is all that matters after all

It sure makes everything else

Oh it sure makes everything else

Seem so small

Add Women – Change Everything

Women

While recently attending the Women’s Leadership Conference in Myrtle Beach, I was lucky enough to hear from several inspiring and influential women. One of those women was Marie Wilson, the founder of the White House Project. The mission of the WHP is to advance women’s leadership in every sector, up to and including the presidency, changing society from a system built on the labor of women to one led equally by their vision.

I typically blog just to share my opinion on the book and recommend or don’t recommend it. However, this book made me really think about women in leadership (or the lack there of) so I will be sharing what I learned and where I hope to see women go in the future. However, I will share a quick opinion on the book. It’s interesting in that there are a lot of stories and a lot of numbers to get the point across. It’s boring in that you read so many names and companies that you lose sight of the reason the book was written sometimes. The good thing for you is I’m going to share the good quotes and the numbers that stood out to me.

Let me go ahead and put this out there, I have ZERO desire for politics. While this book does discuss women in politics that’s not the only message Wilson is trying to share.

I must admit I was a little naive, okay maybe a lot, as to the lack of women in leadership positions not only in Washington DC, state government, but also in Fortune 500 companies, etc. Of course I realized there had never been a female president, but when I saw the statistics and percentages in the book I was shocked. Yes, shocked.

– Of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, only 70 are occupied by women. Of 100 senators, only 16 are women.

– Only 30 women have ever been governors in the US.

  • Women are nearly half the workforce, yet we make up only 9.4% of top executives and 15.6% of corporate officers.

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock or maybe I just wanted to believe things would be different for my generation. I have hope for women but we must work together as a cohesive team to become leaders in various aspects of life.

“I truly believe that if we install enough women in leadership, they will create new policies for old institutions, shifting the burden from one set of shoulders to many, allowing women (and men) to be good parents and great leaders. And women will add their own recipe of strong values – inclusion, communication across lines of authority, the work of caring, relationship building – all of which would increase satisfaction and productivity everywhere.”

But how do we get there?

“If you lead in your own life, you’ll become a wave in the sea of change.”

Authority – “It is important for women to not just be in office, but in power. Women must be in power before we can be said to be equal.” – Marjorie Mowlam

Ambition – “Raise your hands. Raise your voice. Be ambitious. Don’t take no for an answer. The world would be a better place if more women were running it, and so long as that is true, then ambition in women should be celebrated as a gift to all of us.”
– Susan Estrich

Ability – Until 2003, a stone arch at the co-ed campus of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado read, “Bring Me Men.” Despite our natural and learned ability, we tend to be trusted less often that less qualifies men. And in the process of negotiating authority, ambition, and ability, we can sometimes lose the core of who we are – our authenticity, our genuine voice, our willingness to see the wold differently and insist upon changing it.

Authenticity – “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin