My First Year Reflection

This is my story. A story that is an important one, for me and my journey, as I continue on in my career. A year of ups and MAJOR downs. This is a small part of my life and when I look back…I know  it will be just another building block that helped me become who I will become and help me to inspire and encourage the students I will be working with.

This isn’t the story of my first year as a professional. Because I haven’t had one yet. This is my first year post grad reflection. A different story than most.

One year ago I was walking across the stage at graduation. Excited to have completed 19 years of education but also nervous because I had no job lined up. Nothing in sight.

Not something I had imagined for myself during graduate school. Not something I had pictured. But it was happening. I was still under contract for my internship until the 17th of May. I didn’t think this was the way I wanted my graduate journey to end.

The #SAsearch had started in about November of my second year of graduate school (November 2012) and I attended C3 at the 2013 ACPA. I had interviews set up before I arrived- I was excited! When I got there I studied in my room (in Vegas)- reread chapters in my development book and researched the schools I was interviewing with (3 very different schools). But those interviews came and went.

More interviews came and went. I had some (two) on-campus interviews. Those came and went. And now it’s September. 4 months after graduation and 10 months after my initial start. The toll really got me down. The rejection emails…months later- stressful.

I started to HATE my resume. HATE my cover letters. HATE filling out applications. I stopped for a while because I was getting depressed. I was crying myself to sleep 6 of 7 days a week. Was I EVER going to land a job? Did I make a mistake in choosing this path for myself? I was beating myself up so hard. I was depressed. I’m not very close to any one back in my hometown and I was living with my parents again, it was great don’t get me wrong but after being on my own it was kind of a kick to my ego. I had secluded myself from the world. I was making my time as a 24 year old seem so much better (on social media) than it was and I was just sitting at home on the red sofa.

During September 2013, my hair stylist asked if I needed a part-time job and I desperately did (I have bills to pay). I had worked with her last summer on a festival in our town she had been running and she knew this job would be temporary and at any moment I could be leaving. Honestly, I never thought I was going to leave. I started to work 4 days a week at the salon. It was a great time for me to stop thinking so much about the job search and how hard it was for me. Those girls I worked with at the salon are honestly a HUGE part of the reason I didn’t lost it and have a complete breakdown.

I had this job at the salon until I left for NYC in March. Sometimes you don’t know  where you will get your breaks from. Mine came from working at my hair salon in little Ashtabula, Ohio. Who knew a coworker (aka my savior) there would be a sister-in-law to someone working in Higher Education here in New York City (one of my dream cities to live).  After a year and 3 months of searching I got THE phone call (well actually it was a voicemail because we were having a hair class at the salon and I was a model for it and had my hair in foils…but I listened it and immediately broke down).

Now, I have to admit. I’m nervous. You see…I enter to job search again in June. My current position is only temporary and it will end come the start of September. I decided taking this position would help me in the long run. Being advised from my very trustworthy mentors and family this position would be the stepping stone to jumpstart my career as a Higher Education professional and the turnaround in my personal life I so desperately needed.

I wish #SAchat and my program and professional associations talked about this (maybe they do but I I learned how to conduct phone interviews (and had plenty of practice calls with mentors), how to prefect my resume (I also had/have professionals looking over my resume), or how to do this-or-that. I can only recount one time I had heard of someone taking a little longer (8 months) to land his first job from graduate school.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news (or news that isn’t pleasant to hear) but the 2013-bright eyed- walking across the stage at graduation Kari would have loved to hear more about how it is ok to not land your first position ASAYCTS (as soon as you cross the stage) or how to keep the fire going when it has been a year and you have made no progress OR how to be happy for your friends when they land jobs and not completely break down after you send that CONGRATULATIONS text or tweet (or even the simple like on a Facebook status).

I want to be the person grads know went through a hard time at the start of her career but came out on the other side better because of it. I want students I have the opportunity to work with to know that times get tough but grabbing on to your experiences and opportunities as they come your way, no matter how big or small, can help you and help you become a better version of yourself.

I’m owning the fact I am an intern. I am an intern who will make the most of her time. I will be coming out of this experience a better person, a better outlook, and a clearer mind that I am exactly where I need to be.

 This is my second attempt at writing this but I completely erased what I had because it wasn’t as truthful. This shows a better light into my last year…a very tough year for me to experience but a year I am glad I had experienced. It kicked me when I was down and I know how to over come so much more. My hope wasn’t to discourage anyone but to tell my story. My story…



3 thoughts on “My First Year Reflection

  1. For no particular reason, I had a rough weekend with all this stuff and I really appreciated reading about your story. I’m very interested to see where your path goes and how it echoes the anxieties of many others in similar positions, struggling to find their way. There is a whole other post I feel like about stuff we aren’t told in graduate school, but that is a discussion we are told for another time. Thanks for sharing, Kari.


    1. Thanks for reading, Dustin! I agree- we weren’t told (or at least I didn’t hear/see it). I think when we are told to have a discussion ‘later’ it’s one we should be having now.


  2. Kari,
    You aren’t the only one and I too felt it was not talked about. Not having that job in my time line was one of the hardest things I did. Keep on swimming to quote Kristen Rothfeld!


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