A year of accomplishments, scatterplots, new resolutions

Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.


At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!

Intro to Twitter and Tweeting (+ handouts)

Puzzling that Twitter has been around for seven years, I have been a fan since 2008, and I still do not have a handy Twitter 101 reference guide. A quick Google search and appeal to my network found many presentation slides, but no handouts related to the art of Twitter. So I made my own. Twitter has great resources, so I was able to edit content and remove links to pull something together. Nothing fancy as of yet, but if you need something in a pinch to introduce a new colleague to Twitter, enjoy!

Twitter 101 info

Twitter 101 glossary

Useful guide to using Twitter during events from high school journalism teacher, Sarah Nichols.

Twitter for event coverage

Twitter Help Center. (2013, October). Twitter 101: Getting started with Twitter. Retrieved from https://support.twitter.com/groups/50-welcome-to-twitter/

YouTube This!

Love what Iowa boy Ashton “Chris” Kutcher had to say and think this will be good content for our first-year seminar.

This Ze Frank video will be good for goal setting and bucket list conversations with first year students.

One of my favorite videos for use in team building and MBTI presentations.

Another favorite, especially for peer mentor development.

Share your favorite video links in the comments. I am always looking for new content!

What’s your #SAmbti?

A new hashtag, #SAmbti, recently evolved in the Student Affairs Twitter community to promote the discussion of psychological type preferences. The MBTI is a frequent badge of honor and topic of conversation among the #SACHAT collective on Twitter. I have noted the preferences of more than 100 student affairs colleagues during these conversations and will add this information to a newly created #SAmbti doc and invite you to join the fun.

Add your own preferences and follow #SAmbti for the type conversation.

Don’t know your MBTI? Drop me a line and I will  connect you with a certified MBTI type practitioner for your own facilitation.

MBTI in Student Affairs #SAmbti

A new hashtag, #SAmbti, was created in the Student Affairs Twitter community this week promoting the discussion of psychological type preferences. Understanding differences of psychological type and how type pertains to personal style and interactions is useful in a variety of work and social situations, but particularly in student affairs, a field that has a strategic service function. The assessment of psychological type is based on the theory that human behavior is not random and that patterns of mental functions exist in the population (Jung, 1971). Put simply, individuals have different motivations and processes for getting through the day, but will follow certain configurations.

The 93-item Form M Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®)  is the most common instrument for determining psychological type preferences utilized in business, personal coaching and higher education. It asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define opposing preferences for personal energy, acquiring information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world (read more on the preferences here). Based upon responses to these questions, an individual is assigned a type preference for each pair of opposites which when combined become one of 16  four-letter type codes.

For the stats geeks among us, this type table shows the national sample distribution of type preferences and also male and female percentages of the population. As an ENTJ female, it was reassuring to find that I really do think differently than the rest of the world.

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Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H. Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Just Say No to Saying No

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When I read yet another article minimizing the value of a college education I am challenged by thoughts of privilege.  Yes, Steve Jobs, an individual I greatly admire, was a college dropout, but at least he had the opportunity to give it a try. Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence and initiative is without question, but how many students can realistically include Harvard on their college wish list? And then walk away from the opportunity?

I do not discount hard work, enterprise, and determination. But for those of us who are simply above-average, or first-generation, or of a marginalized population, college is the pathway to get a step ahead, a leg up, a move toward potential success. Yes, student loan debt and college costs demand answers, but denying the value of learning, but for an elite few, is not the answer. Just say Go. Go to college.

99 bottles…

Fear not. I am certain that I will not post my entire dissertation countdown, but I really like this sign as Highway 99 runs through the city of my birth, Sacramento, California. In a small way, it signifies how far I have traveled on this journey. Whatever journey it may be, or become.

Ninety-nine could be the number of ways that I have found to avoid working on statistical analyses, reading articles, or writing chapter drafts. I loathe many (most) of these tasks but will frequently find them more appealing than working on my dissertation.

99. Clean kitchen junk drawer.

98. Clean craft closet.

97. Empty cat box.

96. Bake cookies. (No loathing.)

95. Clean computer screen.

94. Eat chips and dip. (No loathing, but not a healthy food choice.)

93. Fold laundry.

92. Sort ponytail elastics.

91. Pinterest.

90. Facebook.

89. Twitter.

88. Twitter.

87. Did I say Twitter?

86. Soccer practice shuttle driver.

85. Soccer tournament shuttle driver.

84. More soccer.

83. Parent-Teacher Conferences.

82. Shopping. (No loathing, just guilt.)

81. Shopping for soccer cleats. (Borderline loathing.)

80. Prepare a meal. (No loathing, but it’s a good thing we have cereal.)

More soon…

Resiliency in Student Affairs

Any individual who has dedicated more than a couple of years to a career in Student Affairs understands the power of resiliency. I was reminded of this during our weekly discussion with the Student Affairs Collaborative on the topic of “Duties as Assigned”.

In student affairs, evening and weekend duty are par for the course. Emergency calls and student crises in the middle of the night are routine. In my own career, I have had my position eliminated during financial challenges and once endured seven different supervisors over a five-year span. I have mourned the loss of students, including one killed on campus by a drunk driver (another student). And of course, I have juggled work commitments while spending time away from my family.

Dr. John Grohol writes about 5 Steps to Building Resiliency. He provides great tips for growing your own reservoir of resilience.

  1. Resiliency Means Accepting that All Things are Temporary
  2. Self-Aware People are Resilient People
  3. (Some) Adversity Helps You
  4. Our Social Relationships Bolster Us
  5. Goal Setting and Understanding Your Problems is Important

Student affairs professionals must be resilient to grow, advance and succeed in this field. This same resilience allows us to serve our students when they may be struggling. As you examine your strengths in preparation for an evaluation or interview, be certain to include the resiliency traits that you bring to the table.

Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them. ~H. Jackson Brown


Ever wonder if you share too much on Twitter? Andrew Careaga introduced me to a clever little application that creates a cloud of your Tweets. (He knows a lot about music too, you should follow his blog if you are not already.)

Reviewing the most frequent word of my last year in Twitter, student, has me pondering a career in student affairs. Any thoughts on that?

Happy New Year!

Happy Anniversary #SACHAT

We celebrate a year of #SACHAT this week, our regular water cooler gathering of student affairs colleagues. Each Thursday we take time to pause in our busy workday to share thoughts, ideas, best practices, gripes, and whatever else in 140 characters.

It has been transforming (and frequently laugh out loud funny!) to read the touching accounts of our community members reflecting on their #SACHAT experience. I recall the blank stare that I likely gave Tom Krieglstein when he pitched this brainstorm over a cup of coffee in late summer 2009. The path that we have traveled in such a short time is amazing.

I was certain that I would expound something about MBTI and Type here, but really, at #SACHAT, we are about sharing resources. We are about Challenge and Support (shout out to Nevitt Sanford). And most of all, we are about community. So it is easy to connect what we do to Ernest Boyer and his six principles of community.

The #SACHAT community is…

Purposeful: We share goals to develop our colleagues, our students and ourselves.

Open: Freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and civility is affirmed.

Just: Individuals are honored and our differences are what make us great.

Disciplined: Individuals accept their obligations to the group and guide behavior for the common good.

Caring: #SACHAT is a place where the well being of each member is supported and where service to others is encouraged.

Celebrative: We know why we ritually gather around computers, laptops and Smartphones each Thursday at Noon and 6:00 p.m. CST for this goat rodeowhich has become our student affairs tradition. It is why we celebrate this entire week. And it is why we don’t believe anyone who claims social networks have “weak ties”.

Lurk, Learn, Drink the Kool-Aid.

Love to you all,