One Year Down, My Entire Career To Go

July 22 officially marked my one year jobiversary. I have survived my first year as a full time professional and contributing member of society, and boy what a year it has been. As I reflect on my first year of work, I cannot help but be amazed at where this job has taken me.

First: Time for a bit honesty. I initially had zero interest in applying for this job. I had absolutely no desire to move home, and I really only applied to get my mom off my back (one of her so-called “humor me” moments).

Once I applied, I put it out of my mind and went back to my regularly scheduled job search. When they called me to set up a phone interview, I had forgotten that I had even applied for the job because it was months later. It was pretty typical of my job search to that point to apply for a job then find months later – after it had faded from conscious memory – that the position had been filled when I got the “thank you for you interest” email, and I assumed that this position was another of those. Of course, I accepted the invitiation for a phone interview. By this point I had graduated and moved home to help around the house while my parents dealt with my dad’s illness.

After scheduling my phone interview, I read up on the position again in preparation. Reading the job description, my first thought was, “This position is for somebody with an established career and likely a PhD, not somebody fresh out of their MEd program.” I also became pretty excited about what the creation of this position could mean for the students I had worked with while I was at LBCC as well as for South Dakota. With that mindset, I entered the phone interview with no nerves because it was just an opportunity to practice interviewing since they would likely never hire me anyway. Imagine my surprise when I was called back and invited to do an in-person interview.

Once again, I walked into that interview with the “another fantastic opportunity to practice because there’s no way they’d hire me” mindset. Thinking back, it is odd how much more confident I was knowing I wasn’t going to get hired than I was in interviews where I thought I had a shot. Reverse psychology, maybe? Who knows. Any who, complete shock when I was called and offered the position. I actually still have the voicemail on my phone from when my now boss called.

My first day of work, I had no idea where this job would take me. In the past year, I have had conversations with university presidents, attended an inauguration at one of our campuses, given a preliminary report to the Board of Regents, visited California for the first time, been appointed to five different advisory boards, and witnessed the search for an executive director. I have met some incredible people who I am honored and humbled to call friends and colleagues. This job is more than I could ever have imagined for my first real job.

This year certainly has not been easy though. As much as I have enjoyed the work, there are so many challenges I have faced. I did not realize how much I would miss being on a campus. Having grown up in a college town in a house right across the street from campus, this is the first time in my life that a college campus is not a part of my daily life. I miss the hustle and bustle of a college town. I miss being surrounded by academics and having critical conversations around topics I’m passionate about every day. I miss having easy access to speakers, museums, musicians, and sporting events. Heck, I miss Starbucks and Chipotle!

I also forgot how completely isolating it can be to be the only person of color in your regular sphere of existence (a topic for a different post). With the events that have transpired around the country this year, that is something I have struggled with more than anything. I have said it before, but that lack of a support system of folks who look like me makes the day to day very difficult.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it over again? Would I humor my mom and apply for a job I did not think I had a shot at? Would I accept a position knowing I would be facing some serious geographic isolation in the face of current events? That is hard to say. I have loved every minute of my time at work. My job is more than I could have hoped for; the opportunity, more than I could have dreamed; the work, critically important. One year in I cannot say if I would do it again, but I can say that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Cheers to one year down, and here’s to an entire career ahead of me.

I’m excited to see where year 2 takes me. Maybe I’ll finally get some business cards.

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