Take 5: Getting Off to a Good Start in Your New Job

Take5-150x150 Congratulations! All the time and energy you spent, and all the venting sessions your friends and family have endured are behind you. You have finally landed that new job! Your first order of business: Take a week to decompress from the job search and to check items off your personal to-do list so that you can begin your new job with a clear mind!

Then, Get to Work!

When you’re a new employee, there’s a lot to take in:

  • Campus culture,
  • Learning names and faces,
  • Figuring out where various offices are on campus,
  • Exploring your role in your department and your specific duties (assigned and otherwise), and
  • Determining what your supervisor expects from you in the first month or two.

It can be overwhelming at first, especially while coming down from the high of landing the job in the first place. Don’t forget that your interview hasn’t ended; have your elevator speech still at the front of your mind in the beginning, as you will most likely use it again when you continue to meet new people around campus.

Check out the links below to ensure you have a smooth transition into your new role and start off on the right foot.

New Job? How to be an Office Rock Star From Day One – See Debt Run  

How to Get Over New Job Jitters – Darryle Brown, eHow.com

Start Your New Job the Right Way – Career Savvy 101

How to Start Your New Job on the Right Foot – Rob Taub, HRPeople

9 Ways to Start Your New Job Right – Alison Green, US News Money

Take 5 is a regular feature where we present links to some good articles and resources on job search topics. If you have ideas for future topics, send them to Melissa Judy, Content Development Intern at melissa@higheredcareercoach.com.

Take 5: Budgeting Tips For the First Few Months in Your New Job

Take5-150x150Now that you’ve landed that new job, how do you go about figuring out how to pay your bills without falling prey to the trap of “lifestyle inflation?” How do you figure out how to save the extra money you’re making now that you weren’t used to having in your budget before? And how do you update your work wardrobe without breaking the bank?

We’ve gathered some links to answer all of these budgeting questions and then some! 

Creating a Professional Wardrobe for a New Job on a Budget – Emily Harmon, Yahoo Voices

Make the Most of Your Paycheck from Your First Job – Jeremy Vohwinkle, About.com Financial Planning

How to Budget for Clothing When Starting a New Job – Darryle Brown, eHow.com

Seven Steps to Take When Starting a New Job – LifeTuner

7 Money Moves to Make When You Get a New Job – David Ning, Wise Bread

Take 5 is a regular feature where we present links to some good articles and resources on job search topics. If you have ideas for future topics, send them to Melissa Judy, Content Development Intern at melissa@higheredcareercoach.com.

Finding Your Niche in Higher Education


Melissa Judy

As a graduate student, I’ve been constantly exploring the various roles that are available in higher education. A professional isn’t limited to student affairs, as I entered graduate school believing. I had blinders on to Greek life when I began, and as I near thesis defense time in June, and graduation in August, I’m realizing that my niche in higher education may not have been where I thought it was this whole time, but I’m finding peace in this realization.

I decided to pursue a master’s degree when I was told I would need one to work in student affairs. I was a veterinary technician at the time and I had realized that I missed academia and I missed Greek life. I thought, how great that I could make a living from working with other Greek students! So, in the fall of 2010 I began an online master degree program in higher education administration. I chose to do it online because I’m a military spouse and it made sense to take my education with me rather than try to transfer credits. As I began, I focused my assignments heavily on Greek life, but I began to open my eyes to other departments such as orientation, first year programs and student activities. In the meantime, I had begun working as a communications specialist in an alumni relations office. I learned a lot while working there and gained some valuable website administration, writing and social media skills. I loved the environment I was working in, not to mention the people.

My husband was stationed in California in August 2011 and we moved, meaning I had to leave my wonderful job, but continue my degree. While here, I’ve applied for numerous student affairs positions, some an hour away, with little success. Finally, the job of my so-called dreams opened and I applied. It was a remote position working for a national sorority’s headquarters. I would be charged with advising chapters and chapter advisors for an organization I believe does great things for its members and communities. I had interviewed for this position just before leaving my last job, but it was open again and I was beyond excited. I knew someone who worked there and thought it was perfect for me, especially as I near graduation.

Just when I had been asked to do a phone interview, I received an e-mail from a friend asking me if I would be interested in another communications position for a development office at my husband’s duty station (he’s stationed at a military graduate school). This position would be a promotion from my last job, still be in higher education, and I would get to have lunch with my husband. Oh, the dilemma! So, I said, sure I’ll apply. That day I was asked to come in for an interview the following day and I obliged. In the interview, I told them of my upcoming phone interview and my inability to decide. They were surprisingly okay with it and just told me to keep in touch.

The day came for my phone interview and I was pretty nervous. More nervous than I had been in the communications interview the week before. Strange. As I hung up the phone, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be right then. I had been reminded of the negatives of Greek life and the cattiness that goes along with being in a sorority the week before and I wondered if that negativity might creep into a position I may hold in Greek life and it hit me. I worried that feeling would eventually become my every day and I knew I didn’t want that. I also worried that my love for Greek life may dwindle if I was faced with that feeling every day and that I may eventually just get burned out on it all. And, I really didn’t want that. I knew that the communications position was essentially a guaranteed job, and I somehow in my gut I felt I belonged there.

So, I contacted the military school and told them I wanted to come in for a second interview and they jumped at the chance. I interviewed with the president of the board of trustees and the executive director of the foundation and a couple of hours later I had an offer letter in my inbox. It was that easy. All thanks to an e-mail from a friend asking if I’d be interested in applying since she knew I’d been job-searching already for several months. And the best part was, they were ok with my military spouse status, the fact that I knew we’d be moving again in December. They even offered the potential for remote work when I moved, the holy grail of military spouse careers.

I then set about e-mailing the sorority I had interviewed with, telling them I had accepted this position. I received an e-mail back stating that I would not be asked back for on-site interview and they wished me the best of luck in my search. I can only assume they had sent me a form e-mail, and that’s ok.

What I realized in taking this job, again in higher ed communications, is that I had set my path. It felt like a huge, life-altering decision, but I knew it was the right one when I felt relieved after making it. I knew that in making this decision and putting this job on my resume, I would be branding myself as a communications professional rather than a student affairs professional, but my gut trusted it and so, so did I. That’s not to say that I’m not building transferable skills, or that I’m tied to this niche that I feel comfortable in right now. And, it doesn’t mean that I’m merely taking a job that doesn’t challenge me, because two weeks in, I’m already challenged! I just know that, at this time, this is where I’m meant to be and I’m happy with my decision. I know that in not making Greek life my job, as I had hoped, I won’t be in danger of getting burnt out and I’ll be able to offer more of myself as an advisor in a volunteer capacity in the future, when hopefully we move to a place with a collegiate chapter of my organization nearby.

I should also say, there’s nothing wrong with taking a job you know you’ll do well in and feel completely qualified for. Not every job has to be a stretch for your skills and experience, especially if it’s a jump in titles and pay.

Ultimately, you have to follow the path that feels right. Your place in higher education may end up being completely different from what you envisioned for yourself, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just because you have been pursuing a certain position or function, doesn’t mean that others within higher education may not be a better fit. Take the time to explore the different paths that are available to you and really feel them out, see if your gut reacts to any of them. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, but also don’t be afraid to take a position that really uses your already existing skills. Honing those skills is never a bad thing, as long as you keep moving up and forward!

Take 5: Moving Resources

Take5-150x150Now that you’ve secured that job, you need to hurry up and move there! But, don’t be overwhelmed. We’ve compiled a list of sites to will help you remember what to add to your moving checklist, deduct the expenses on your taxes, staying positive throughout the process, and how to actually go about packing up your life and taking it to a new city.

Check out the links to the moving resources listed below and begin your new adventure!

How to Plan Your Move – American Moving & Storage Association

Making the Move to a New City – First 30 Days

Topic 455, Moving Expenses – IRS

Let Uncle Sam Help Pay for Your Move – Kay Bell, Bankrate.com

What to Do Before Moving to a New City: A Handy Checklist – Nina Spitzer, Sheknows.com

Take 5 is a regular feature where we present links to some good articles and resources on job search topics. If you have ideas for future topics, send them to Melissa Judy, Content Development Intern at melissa@higheredcareercoach.com.

Take 5: Salary Negotiation Tips

Take5-150x150Salary negotiation is a common part of the hiring process, so don’t let it intimidate you.  Talking about money is sticky and uncomfortable, but to ensure that you get the salary you deserve to match your skills and experience, it’s a topic that you absolutely have to bring up with a future employer. The more you do it, the better you’ll be at it and the more comfortable you’ll be doing it. The more job experience you have, the more negotiating leverage you’ll have. But, new professionals can negotiate too!

Below are 5 sites that offer a few tips and reminders about how to successfully negotiate your new salary and benefits:

36 Negotiable Items in an Academic Position – Jane Tucker and Barbara Butterfield

The Womanly Art of Negotiation – Catherine Conrad in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Top 10 Salary Negotiation Tips – Negotiation Board

The New Salary Negotiation –  Johanna Schlegel, Salary.com

Salary Negotiation Tips – University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts Career Services

Take 5 is a regular feature where we present links to some good articles and resources on job search topics. If you have ideas for future topics, send them to Melissa Judy, Content Development Intern at melissa@higheredcareercoach.com.