Sunday, January 31, 2016

14 Months of Chaos

My Experience with the Post-Grad Job Search

This was taken at the NASPA national conference in
New Orleans in March 2015. I had social media on lock!


It’s been over a year since I blogged about anything related to higher education, student affairs, professionalism, or life in general. I took some time away so that I could focus on my job search, and so I could keep my voice out of the conversation for a little while.
Sure, I just finished a MASSIVE 200 album countdown of all of my favorite music from 2015—which was a nice way to keep myself occupied during a year full of job searching excitement, disappointment, and depression.
Alas, here I am.
A lot has happened over the last year and I am eager to share much of what has been happening in my life; however, the way I have chosen to share all of this is by recounting all of the months since we last spoke, dear reader.
For now, I will shift to focusing on my life in fragments of months—with some pictures spliced in, and plenty of feels to make you wonder how the hell I am still alive.

The following fragments are brought to you by eager optimism and excitement—

December 2014

Fresh off of being awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from NASPA Region 1, I felt GREAT entering the job search. I was eager, I was optimistic. I felt prepared to enter my job search.

Winning the Richard F. Stevens award through
NASPA Region 1 was pretty darn neat, you guys.

My third semester in grad school was my most difficult segment of any level of schooling I have received to this point in my life. I was taking four grad-level courses, doing an independent study, conducting original research, and working 35 hours in assistantships. All in an effort to have a relatively clear schedule at the beginning of my final semester so that I could solely focus on the job search
At the culmination of my third semester in grad school, I had applied to three jobs. Three. I was excited to see the job search on the horizon. I spent my winter break relaxing because I knew it was gonna be a rough final semester—sure, I wouldn’t have many classes, but I DID have my integrative thesis project to complete, and I knew the job search would be tough.

Having just watched my partner, Katy Hamm, finish their job search in October—after about nine months of searching—I knew I needed to be PREPARED for anything.

So I enjoyed the calm before the storm.

This was the first of only TWO months in which I did not apply to a single job.

HOWEVER! I was offered two interviews from the initial three jobs I applied for back in December.

My mind was racing—
what if my job search can be over before I even felt like it began?
what if I get an offer and have to split time with my grad program?
what if I am not ready for this yet?
what if I get to be the first to complete my job search?
what if all my early fears about the job search were for nothing?
what if I can just coast the rest of the year knowing I have a job lined up?
what if I am just THAT DAMN GOOD?
what if I had nothing to worry about?
what if this would save me months of frustration and anger?

—what if, man?

For my first interview, I was brought onto campus to meet with a few folks in an initial interview, but I got completely in my head—thinking this was a better sign that what it truly was.

In reality, I went in prepared. I went in confident. I went in eager to prove myself.

I felt very good about the interview, but was told merely a week later that the job was offered to an internal candidate. So, for a few weeks, I educated myself, I prepared, I psyched myself out, all for an internal to be offered the position.

Look, I understand that the many elements go into a hiring decision, but this did not start my search off on the right foot.

I was too in my head. Already.
In my head, I went in unprepared. I went in arrogant.
I went in looking like a fool.

For most of my life I have been told that I wouldn’t amount to anything.

So most of my life has been spent trying to prove those people wrong.
And immediately into my first true professional job search, I was confronting those frustrations firsthand.


While I applied to a couple more jobs in February, this month was for focusing on my thesis work and networking. And it was spent dealing with A LOT of snow, since Boston had it's larger snowstorm in the city's history.

Lots of snow. John Cena couldn't handle it.
I was a networking machine in my preparation for my job search.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE talking to people and I what love even more is taking words of advice, words of wisdom from my colleagues. I thrive on those relationships.

So I called up folks, talked to them about their advice and tips on how to approach interviewing, how to approach applying, and how to approach the field. I got lots of advice that meshed with my style, and a lot of advice that made me really consider how to manipulate that advice to maintain my level of authenticity.

That proved to be one of the biggest struggles of my year.
The first REAL wave of job postings went live. So I was BUSY applying to many jobs in March. I really felt like my job search was truly starting.

I was interviewing for a few jobs here and there, and I felt like I was gaining some real confidence in my interviewing style.

However, it slowed down for a bit when I got braces.
That was a physical toll I wasn’t aware of when I signed up for it.
The braces wrecked my mouth early on, to where I had to reschedule an interview because my mouth hurt so much.

While at NASPA 2015, I presented with Paul Gordon Brown on
social media usage in higher education.
This was a cool opportunity, because it was broadcast live!
CLICK HERE for the video
March marked my trip to New Orleans, and the NASPA national conference—where my first bit of job search reality hit me like a ton of fucking bricks. I met with many of my graduate colleagues interviewing tirelessly for jobs that many of them didn’t seem terribly excited about, but were taking interviews just to practice—a concept I hadn’t really considered yet, since, at this point, I was only applying to jobs that truly interested me because I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time interviewing for a job I didn’t care about.

Yet, everyone was so prepared and so on-point with their shit that I felt like a child in their presence. While I felt confident in my abilities to competently interview for jobs and to present myself, I felt like an imposter. But then I thought that these colleagues are interviewing for HOURS EACH DAY, interviewing for dozens of jobs back to back—they can’t afford to be off during TPE. While I’m able to sit at home and prep for one interview here and one interview there.

So I brought myself back down to my own reality that MY search was not THEIR search.

I met up with one of my favorite humans, and one of the best
supports of my job search, Kameron Winters! Also, being tattooed
badasses is certainly something we have in common.

Yet, the reality of watching many of my colleagues go through the wringer of TPE made me realize how much work I still needed to do on myself. I was going at this all wrong. I was trying to just do my thing, but that wasn’t being realistic.

I needed help. I needed support.
I couldn’t do this on my own.

I continued networking throughout the New England area!
My buddy, Ed Cabellon, was a great source of knowledge.

I went back to Massachusetts with a renewed sense of purpose for the search. So I reached out to anyone in the area that I could think of to either do mock interviews, or get resume support, or to just talk about the process. I was dedicated to getting a job according to how those around me said I should go about it.
[Note: This is probably a good time to mention that due to my partner having accepted a job at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass, my job search was limited to a one-hour radius of the Greater Boston Area. And while this gave me many options in the city, I quickly learned the competitiveness of the Boston area is very very very very intense. More to come on this reality in a later blog post.]

The following fragments are brought to you by over-confidence and self-aggrandizement—

I had many interviews in April, but I started realizing that interviewing was hard for me. Even with all of the advice I received from my colleagues, I struggled.

As I said before, I have ADHD. Really bad ADHD.
I know many people use it as an excuse. I just try to rise above it, but sometimes I can’t. People who know me, know what I’m talking about.

There were many times in interviews where I would get distracted by something in my apartment, or my office, or by my cat, and I would trail off with too much context for an answer and it would fail. Countless times this would happen. I would start an answer and then my brain would swirl with better answers or doubts in my answer, or the desire to share more than I needed to share, or the clutter of ALL OF THE ADVICE would pile up and I wouldn’t know exactly how to make sense of it all.

Having anxiety and ADHD is also a difficult combination because I would just panic.
I would resort to just talking myself up in self-aggrandizing ways, instead of focusing on the job itself. It wasn’t helpful for anyone. I did this out of fear. I did this out of fear of not impressing the interviewers enough.

There were many times during interviews where I honestly felt like I blacked out while answering the question and came-to on the other side—haha.

I realized that being too context-heavy is NOT a good thing whatsoever. And being a high-context person (AS YOU CAN TELL BY THIS MASSIVE BLOG POST), I needed to learn how to trim down my answers. So I would work on my answers with my partner almost every night. It helps that Katy is also in the field. Ugh, they’re the best.

Me with three incredible #SAKliq colleagues:
Steve Curtright, Matt Carpenter, and Matt McGrath.

Also, during the first week of April, I did something I had wanted to do FOR MONTHS! I started a Facebook group for all of the Student Affairs professionals that also happen to love Professional Wrestling—the #SAKliq. This group wound up being my biggest support outside of my relationship with my brilliant and patient partner.

The #SAKliq started small, with a vision of creating a truly inclusive space for those select student affairs professionals that genuinely love the theatre of the absurd—professional wrestling. Over the last year, it has developed into a larger group with daily conversations about wrestling AND our field and the intersection of social justice therein.

I’ve also felt more comfortable sharing with those humans about my mental health and my job search than I have with any other group or colleague, because while we are all fans of the absurd, we are able to be comfortable with sarcasm, real talk, and critical thinking. This group was a major motivation for me throughout the year.


Graduation was an exciting time for me. I had done it! I got my Masters!
I was so proud of myself and of everyone in my cohort.

We had been through SO MUCH over two years and I was excited to see where the future took all of us. We were all balls of nerves during our final semester, not only for our integrative presentations [Note: you can access my integrative project, of which I live-streamed on Youtube by clicking here.], but we were nervous for the job search. All of us. It was rough.

I received the Grennan Award for Contribution to the Higher Education program at UMass Amherst, which was due in part to my recruitment of applicants and for being the main contact for interested graduate students. This was a very exciting recognition to receive because it was awarded to me by the faculty that I came to know and love and trust over two years.

Something cool also happened, I got an email for an interview offer for an exciting job DURING graduation! This put an extra bounce in my step that day—as it did anytime I got an interview offer.

Each interview offer gave me hope.
Each interview offer gave me something to look forward to.
Each interview offer renewed my excitement in my own existence.

I continued honing my rejuvenated and focused brand of interviewing. Making sure I watched my words, watched my context, and kept on message.

This helped because at the end of the month, I attended NESAPC (New England Student Affairs Placement Conference), in hopes of getting some more interviewing experience and to possibly land a residence life job.

Sadly, this experience was an absolute shit-show and I do not recommend it to anyone. That may seem harsh, but it was hardly a conference, and more of an awkward version of Student Affairs meets the Bachelor (which I’ve been told is what TPE is like, and no thank you—that is not how human beings who are seeking jobs should be treated). We are not cattle.
I quickly learned throughout the course of my eight interviews that Residence Life jobs are not for me whatsoever—which is the majority of jobs featured in NESAPC and most large-scale conference experiences like TPE and OPE. Even though I had interviewed for a few jobs, and gained some traction with them, I was not feeling the vibes I got from any of those interviews or even the lifestyle of always having to be on.

I was an RA as an undergrad and kept trying to convince myself that I would be fine as a full-time professional in a upscale RA role, but I was just lying to myself. [Note: Before getting bent out of shape for my overgeneralization of the RD role, I'm doing that on purpose. Because that's how my brain viewed the role at the time. I wasn't being serious about the potential, so I didn't take it seriously. I know the role is hard. I know it takes a lot out of a person and it takes a specific person. But I am not that person.]

I know that Residence Life isn’t for me.
And I am glad I realized this because it helped me focus on the jobs I applied for throughout the rest of the year—later on, I decided to only apply to RD roles if they were close to my partner’s institution, for their sake. Not necessarily mine.
I had my first true on-campus interview after 15 phone/skype interviews. This was also my only interview of the month, which was a huge bummer.
Yet, since I didn’t really have that many interviews this month, I continued applying to jobs—the second wave of job posting was alive and well in June and July, and for some of August.
This is the point where, after having a handful of interviews, my mom and dad would constantly ask why I didn’t have a job yet—which weighed on me tremendously.

I felt like I was not only letting myself down, but also my family. But I had to explain to my parents how the process of applying for jobs in higher education works. I explained the resume/cover letter stage, the phone/skype interview process, the on-campus process, and the HR stuff. And the political stuff [Note to Higher Ed folks: Don’t even pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say this].

Their response, consistently, was, “that seems like a lot to prove if you’re good enough for a job.”

They weren’t wrong. It often felt like a pretty ridiculous system of having to prove myself time and again, constantly feeling like whatever answer I gave wasn’t good enough.

This is around the time when I realized that I needed to do something about the fear and depression that was taking over me. I couldn’t think without being reminded of my constant failures, and my heart was taking a major brunt of the frustration because I hardly wanted to do anything but sulk in my sadness.

I also realized that my money was depleting since I didn’t have a job. And since I didn’t want to get a part-time job and have to quit it once I got an offer from an institution—being optimistic—I didn’t know what to do in order to pay my bills.

So I started painting again.

I’ve painted for a few years now, but really stopped during graduate school so that I could focus. But I found that painting is the most calming way for me to distract myself and to feel like I was in control of something for once.

During the job search, you are virtually only in control of whether you apply for a job or not. That’s it.

I needed to feel like I had SOME sort of control over my depression. Painting gave this to me.

I reached out the often contentious Student Affairs Professional Facebook group to see if anyone wanted some office art. And by the end of that day, I had commissioned over 20 pieces of art!

This tree of life is one of my favorite pieces.

Colleagues from past and present gave me so much support
during this rough patch of my life.

I WAS SO STOKED! I felt so supported by my colleagues in the field, and it gave me a renewed sense of purpose during my job search. I got to work right away. And as I posted finished products, the commissions kept rolling in! For the first time during my search, I felt like I was in control of my mental health.

But when you struggle/live with a combination of ADHD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation like I do, those feelings of being in control can seem fleeting.
The following fragments are brought to you by depression, fear, and anger—
Being home alone every day while Katy was at work really started to take its toll on me. I watched my cohort colleagues, and other #SAGrad colleagues starting their new jobs all over the country—while I was at home, depressed and disappointed in myself for not being done with my job search.

Sure, I was consistently painting every day, but I had to keep my eyes off Facebook and Twitter for spans of time so I wouldn’t let my anxiety and jealousy overtake me. My depression was so thick that there were times when I just had to mute or unfollow or hide certain folks I was connected with—folks that I genuinely like and admire as human beings—JUST so I didn’t have the reminders of my own failures every day.

But I kept getting rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection.
After rejection.
After rejection.
After rejection.
After rejection.

So many rejections.

I almost attempted suicide again in July—this time Katy was there to stop me before I went through with it. I came home and collapsed to my knees and told Katy, with tears in my face, “I give up. I’m done. It’s over for me.”
I couldn’t see going on any longer.
Rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection.
I was over it. I couldn’t do it anymore.
My cynicism towards the field grew as I realized the oversaturation of the job market was clearly in line with the mass influx of student affairs grad students that had been encouraged to enter the field. That, and Boston is a massively popular place to work—and the fact that I was very limited in my stretch.
My anxiety forced me to dwell on literally ALL OF THOSE THINGS EVERY DAY!

But I kept painting—
I created this quad-piece for a colleague that loves trees!

July was my best month for commissioning paintings—I commissioned 38 paintings during that month. I was working on paintings at a rate of nearly three paintings per day—about ten per week.
I was still applying to jobs, of course, but I was keeping busy. And the painting kept my mind off of suicide. And the painting kept my mind off of my failures. And the painting kept my mind off of what was out of my control.
The painting gave me control. The painting let me be in control of my work, my destiny, my creativity.
The painting saved me.

I had a few interviews in August. Many of which were probably my greatest interviews of the year—one was for a social media-based job, another for a startup, and another for an AD gig at a local Ivy League school. I felt like things were heating up for the ol’ Crigster.

I interviewed with a higher education startup—that many of you know, but for anonymity, I will leave nameless as I have with all institutions in this post—and felt SO GREAT ABOUT IT! The struggle was that I was locked to only searching in the greater Boston area. And yes, that was a big barrier for me, regardless. It cut down on travel costs for interviewing for jobs, but it also limited my reach.

I found out a few things about myself around this time—amid all of the chaos of constantly interviewing—a major piece was that I was done applying to jobs I couldn’t see myself actually taking. Another thing was that I needed to be more humble, I needed to be more chill, and to calm down about all of this search.
Interviewing was hard, but I pushed myself to be on top of my game.
And yes, this meant EVEN WEARING A TIE!

I gave up on applying to RD jobs completely because my level of cynicism toward the field had engulfed me to the point where I couldn’t even bullshit my way through an interview without feeling like I was wasting the interviewers’ time.
It’s really hard to interview for jobs with any level of excitement when you have a brick wall of cynicism and self-doubt that is so excruciatingly difficult to break through.

I would stay up on Facebook chat with some of my colleagues, complaining about my search. Wallowing in my sadness. Contemplating leaving the field. Giving up on everything. And just moving on to a different venture. That's how bad my cynicism got during this time.

But this is also when I really challenged myself to FOCUS in phone and skype interviews. My ADHD is very challenging to deal with, so I found that sequestering myself to a corner of my bedroom or living room helped. I could have no windows, no pens, no nothing in front of me except for notes on the job I was interviewing for.

Yet, another issue I struggled with during interviews was that I was getting desperate. I felt fake in almost every interview. I felt like I was focusing too much on what the interviewers WANTED TO HEAR, rather than what I genuinely felt or had experienced. I just wanted to say things that I felt would get me on to the next stage in the process. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn’t.

One thing is for sure, I wasn’t being myself.
And it hurt.

The following fragments are brought to you by desperation, anxiety, and forgiveness—

At the beginning of September, Katy and I moved out of our cramped apartment in downtown Boston, and secured a new, larger place in Quincy. However, we had a gap of two weeks where we experienced homelessness. We had to give our cat, Tux, to some of Katy's students to watch over him while we left all of our possessions in the unlocked garage of our future home.

Tux had to live with some of Katy's student while we
experienced homelessness.

For a few nights, we were able to stay with some friends and colleagues in town, and then we had no options. So we spent a night sleeping on the floor of Katy's office. It was a pretty big low for us, especially since I wasn't feeling too confident in myself or our immediate options for housing.

And then a beacon of light shown down in the form of one of Katy's Associate Deans opening up her home and spare room to me and Katy for as long as we needed it. They even gave me access to their basement so that I could continue painting!

I created this painting while in their basement!

Eventually, we were able to move in to our new place by the middle of September, which was a nice change of pace to be outside of the city.

During this time of homelessness, I was invited on-campus as one of two finalists for a social media job that I felt I was a shoe-in for! I know that I rocked my phone interview—I actually turned down an offer from the startup to work remotely in Boston because it wouldn’t have fit my work style or needs at that time in my life.

I was also told I was the top candidate in the search.
That might not have been ethical, but I figured they told me so that I would continue in their search.

So I did.

And it was hard turning down an offer after months of CRYING for an offer, and there one was. But it didn’t seem like it would fit my needs in my current mental health and professional state.

But then, after a couple of weeks of feeling toyed with—at some points feeling like any communication with the hiring coordinator was good news better than not—I was notified that I did not get that job.

I was devastated. Katy and I were SURE that I was getting the job.
I turned down a job to take a risk and follow through with a job I figured I was getting.
It was my best showing as an interviewer to that date, but it fell through.
Like many of my other previous rejections.

I was once again feeling pretty low about myself.

And then my dad died…

This is the last picture I had with my dad.
It is from August 2014.
However, I do have his image tattooed on my calf.


I abruptly flew home to Oregon at the beginning of October to be with my family for the final week of my dad’s life. My dad spent nearly 15 years struggling with lung cancer and his time was drawing nigh.
He knew it, I knew it.
We all knew it. But only my mother and I truly were at some sort of peace with it.
My siblings clung to this belief—in g_d, in something—that he would pull through.
I didn’t want him to pull through. I wanted HIM to be at peace.
I had grieved a good deal for the previous months, years, and had even written a short essay, and a song about dealing with the inevitable loss of my father.
Through a number of conversations I had with him during his final days, he consistently told me that he had no regrets, and there was nothing more for him to do with his life on earth. He was ready.
He was not afraid. I admired that about him.
As I watched my dad die, and as I said my goodbye, I challenged myself to take care of myself. Seeing the man who graciously adopted me into his family cling to his last few breaths will stick with me forever, and it’s a memory that will remind me to always take care of myself.

I challenged myself to forgive myself of the last few months.
I told myself that I am stronger than my fears.
And the revitalization of Crig started the moment I returned to Boston in October. My friend, Katy's coworker, and fellow #SAKliq member, Mike McCarthy, took me to see Monday Night RAW in Boston on the very night I returned. It was exactly what I needed to get my mind back on track.
Two days later, however, I was on-campus interviewing for an Assistant Director position at a campus in which I DESPERATELY wanted to work.
Two days after my dad died. Two days after I watched my main confidante of my family leave the earth. Two days was not enough.
I pushed through the interview—letting those I interviewed with know my circumstances, not for sake of pity but for the reality that this was my situation. I know my father would have wanted me to go through with the interview, so I did.
Two days was not enough—I was distracted. I was tired.
I was unable to be myself.
I had made a miscalculation in my perception of my own strength and ambition.
I didn’t get the job, clearly.
The next week I decided that I was no longer just going to wallow in my own sadness anymore. I was going to be active. I applied to about 25 more jobs—the third wave of postings had hit in September, and I felt good about many of my applications.

My relationship with Katy had hit our lowest point in our two years of knowing each other, and I felt like I was going to spiral into another suicide attempt if I didn’t do something about my depression—and since I didn’t have health insurance, I found that running needed to come back into my life, that I needed to paint even MORE, and I needed to be around people again.

So I looked into a seasonal job with Newbury Comics—which is a record store/comic store/Hot Topic scene store/chain in New England. I love this company and I was glad to be hired the day I interviewed for a seasonal warehouse gig.
The month started terribly. But by the end of October, things were looking up.

We even brought a NEW cat into our lives so that Tux would have a friend to play with while we were gone all day. Our new cat is named, Football (or, FB), after BMO's imaginary best friend on the cartoon, Adventure Time.

FB and Tux have made a created a good friendship,
and having an adventurous kitty around the house
really turned up my spirits a bit.
For the entire month of November, I had one interview. But I honestly didn’t mind that too much because I was busy spending my days around people again. It felt great.

I’ll admit that at first, it sucked. A lot.
There I was with a Masters degree, folding t-shirts, tagging records, and sorting socks.
I felt pretty low, but I knew this wasn’t forever.
As did those around me; many of which I learned a lot from.

Sure, I was seasonal help, but I made the most of it and got to meet some very interesting people. Virtually everyone that worked in the warehouse was pursuing some form of creative art in their personal lives. I worked with musicians, painters, animators, comedians, writers, a real smorgasbord of creativity and apathy all wrapped into one massive warehouse.

I got to listen to music all day, every day. And I got to have some cool conversations on social justice, anarchism, and the political system.

All in all, being able to hold down a seasonal job was an incredibly helpful aspect of my job search. The hours were long, but I was able to pay my bills while painting, and the store discount helped me snag some records and shoes on the cheap, which was a cool bonus while it lasted.
One thing I told myself at this point in my search was, “fuck it—I’m just gonna be me.”

I knew working in the warehouse wasn't the end of
the road for me, but it was a nice stop along the way.

Thanks to my time in the Newbury Comics warehouse, I decided to ditch all conventional wisdom that had been bestowed upon me by all of the advice of my colleagues because I felt so fake when I was interviewing.

I didn’t like that about myself. I had grown to despise setting up interviews.

However, by the end of the month, I had interviews for four jobs lined up for December—which felt great! While I was nervous about timelines and warehouse fatigue, I was eager to just be myself—in my new fearless mentality.

BONUS: November was also my birthday, and Katy had my
friends send in video messages to me and compiled it into
an incredible 25-minute package that I consider the best gift
anyone has ever given me. I felt so loved amid all this chaos.
The following fragments are brought to you by fearlessness—
December, again
I did not apply to a single job in December—funny how the second month and the second to last month were the ONLY months I didn’t apply to jobs. Weird.
However, I couldn’t apply to jobs because I LITERALLY had no time to do so. I was either working so much at Newbury Comics or I was busy preparing and/or interviewing for four VASTLY different jobs—again, a product of my own ambitious background of not focusing on ONE-specific functional area in higher education.
When I changed my mentality once more to focus on being myself and nothing less—in all of my energy, opinions, and feelings, I was able to be more comfortable.

This renewed sense of confidence in myself felt great, and it worked! I moved through all four of those searches—taking time out of my Newbury work day in order to make interviews happen within the city, and racing home to do a Skype interview, or to change when I forgot dress shoes and a belt that one time.

Alas, I was finally interviewing comfortably. And while it felt risky [Note: It was risky, but I figured—what do I have to lose?], I finally felt good about my answers. I felt untouchable. I felt like the end was near, especially since two of my searches were for jobs that I REALLY wanted. That made it easier to to be myself in those interviews.

I quit worrying about getting a job or having a title, and simply focused on being myself and in knowing that I have a lot to offer, I wanted to be hired because I was going to be a good fit for the job. Not simply because I said the right things to get the attention of the interviewers.

However, I was at the point to where settling for a job wasn’t really an option either. I wasn’t just going to accept a job that I wasn’t going to be happy with just to have a job. What good would that have done for my health?

Actually, it could have made things worse for me.
So I was in no mood to settle for a job.
Thankfully, I was stoked on two my options at the time.

I had interviews run all the way up until the day BEFORE Crimmus Eve, and even had one directly after New Year’s. So this was crunch time.
January, again
January started with great news and I had no need to apply to any more jobs!
I got my second official job offer during my job search—an Assistant Director position that I turned down due to fit, and because…I had ANOTHER offer at the same time!
That’s right! Both of the offers I felt very good about panned out completely!
It goes to show that I was able to change up my style for the better and have it be fulyl authentic and work out for me!
My third offer, and the offer I am grateful to say that I DID accept was with the University of Massachusetts Boston, where I will be its new/first-ever Health Education & Promotion Specialist!

This was my pie-in-the-sky job!

I never believed I would be able to obtain the exact job I wanted when my search began.
But here it was—mine for the taking, and I accepted it!

I am excited to finally begin a job that I am in love with for its opportunity to engage across so many different topics. This is pretty much a dream job for me at this point in my young career. I am eager for this position for a number of reasons—specifically that I will have a good amount of freedom to create a peer health education program, focused on enriching the mental health, physical health, sexual health, and social health of students. I will also focus greatly on drug and alcohol intervention, as well as sexual assault awareness and bystander intervention work.

So there is A LOT of work for me to do! Not to mention, I will get to serve one of Boston's most diverse student populations, which is really exciting.
A major plus of this position is that I get to stay in the UMass state system, where I will be unionized, qualify for the Public Service Loan forgiveness program, and have some pretty sweet benefits. AND the campus is only a quick train ride from our place in Quincy, and I'll be able to bike in the spring and summer months!

The search was long, it took a lot out of me, and it certainly taught me a lot about myself. And I would not have survived the last year without the support of my incredible partner, Katy Hamm. Katy was fortunate [Note: terrible word choice] to see many different shades of me during this search and spent many nights crying with me as I struggled with my constant rejections, and celebrated with me each step of the way through my successful processes.

Alas, I am excited to finally uphold my end of the rent and bills paying!
Huzzah to being adults!

Katy is very much the reason I am alive today.

In total, I applied to 79 jobs. I obtained 41 interviews for 26 jobs—which is a cool ratio of interviewing for nearly one-third of the jobs I applied for. It’s also incredibly sad the amount of rejection I felt due to all of the missed opportunities and failure I felt when a job didn’t work out after getting invested in it.
38 of my applications were sent into the wide world of the the INTERNET with no response whatsoever, except for when to tell me I didn’t get the job.
This blog post—in all of its massive detail—goes to show that even with the most preparation possible, nothing can truly prepare you for what you will experience on the job market.

Yes, my search was limited to one location—the greater Boston area, where there are many institutions, but it is also the most competitive market. With over 30 HESA graduate programs in the New England area—an area completely accessible within a few hours, i was competing with what felt like EVERYONE.

That didn’t help my self-esteem, but I never stopped.
I kept applying. I persevered because I knew what I wanted to do and now I get to do it.

It might have taken me a while to get to this point of comfort and excitement for the future, but here I am. I am ready to start my new job next week. I am ready to kick ass. I am ready to be the future of Student Affairs in Higher Education and I will not let anything get in my way now.

Bring it on.

And to EVERYONE that commissioned a painting from me during the last seven months, Thank you SO MUCH! You kept me on top of my bills, on top of my sanity, and gave me many much-needed distractions from the reality of the job search. I would not be alive today if it weren't for all of the painting that kept me afloat.

Also—since I still another month or so until my first paycheck, THIS is the ideal time for you to commission art from me!! I plan to keep painting when my job starts, obviously—it's so great for my mental health, but this is perhaps the last time I can solicit knowing that I'll have time to create freely! So please reach out of you would like me to paint for you! I still got bills to pay!
UPDATE: I am now 16 months into my job, you can still commission art from me, but I suggest checking out my nonprofit if you would like to share a story of trauma with us and receive a FREE piece of art! Check out The Art of Survival by CLICKING HERE!

This is the beginning of a new life in 2016. I wish my dad were around to celebrate with me but I know he's crushing it in the afterlife with Elvis and John Wayne or whatever. Alas, I am ready to move forward—it's been a long time coming for me and this is just the beginning, man.

Thank you. Be well. Stay curious.


I did a Pecha Kucha talk at the 2016 ACPA Convention and I discuss art therapy and job searching! Check it out!