CES Application Report
1. Career Planning
Career planning is something I thought I had a good grasp of until taking this course. Career
planning extends much farther than a job you may want, but rather encompasses elements such
as: job demand, tentative career interests, salary potential, work conditions, education required,
skills needed, work/life balance, structure of work, and career ladder. By recently changing my
major, I had to put an intentional emphasis on drafting my career plan before graduation. After
doing the career planning assignment and looking at resources, like the Bureau of Labor
Statistics and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, I have a much clearer picture of my career
ladder and how each step will contribute to my overall career goals. Before taking the time to
construct my own career ladder, I had a pretty fuzzy picture of my professional future. I know
now that the universal title for the position I am ultimately working towards is that of a
“postsecondary education administrator”. Each university has its own creative title for this
position, but this is the general term as it relates to my dream job. After interviewing Chris Sligh,
the Director of the Office of Student Engagement at WMU, I was able to hear about his personal
career ladder and the opportunities that have shaped him as a professional in the field of higher
education. With all of this, I feel much more confident going into graduation this December!
2. Problem Solving
I consider myself to be more of a big-picture thinker rather than a detail-oriented thinker. With
this, I like working to solve bigger problems rather than fuss over the nit-picky details. I do my
best thinking either in the moment when discussing an issue as a team or even hours later, when
my mind drifts back to the problem and creates a solution when it’s no longer at the forefront of
my mind. Granted, I am not an “outside of the box” thinker, I am confident in my ability to
remain calm in times of crisis when a quick solution is needed. Through my various experiences
as the President of three different organizations, there were many occasions where members
would approach me with a problem and I had to work quickly and efficiently to draft solutions
with them. For example, for a Mother’s Day event held at the chapter house, we quickly realized
that we didn’t have enough chairs for each sorority member and their mother, as people were
arriving at the house. I gathered my e-board together to devise a plan where we would switch the
idea of the event to more of an open house. I suggested to some chapter members that they first
give their mothers and other family members a tour of the house before finding seating for
brunch. For the members and their family members who were already I seated, after they ate, I
prompted them to give their moms a tour of the house. By doing this, we were able to cycle
moms around the house enough where there was never a true shortage of chairs because not
every person was trying to sit at the same time. The skill of problem-solving would certainly
come in handy for just about any job/position; however, it would be crucial for someone working
as a Director of Student Affairs at a university, like I plan to do.
3. Organizational Skills
Before taking this course, I thought that organizational skills were only related to how you
organize your time in order to get tasks done. Although I still consider myself to excel in the area
of organization, I now know that organization skills are also comprised of how you organize
money, people, and materials. This makes sense as you can organize your time perfectly, but if
you are lacking the funds to put on an event - your ability to timely organize the event doesn’t
matter. Additionally, under the topic of organization skills, we discussed the difference between
having bridging ties and bonding ties with people. It is important to build both of these types of
relationships as you enter the professional, adult world. You want to have your select people that
you can celebrate and have emotional ties with, like your close friends and family, but you’ll also
want to establish relationships with people who will help you up your career ladder. Even though
there is potential for some overlap between the two, it is important to maintain all of these
relationships consistently. When applying for the Leadership Consultant position, I had to get
three letters of recommendation: one from a Sigma Kappa advisor, another from a Sigma Kappa
volunteer, and one from any employer of your choice. I am lucky that I had more than three
people that would have fit perfectly into each of these categories and had to consider which
people would be seen as the most “impressive” to those reading the letters of recommendation.
As I am entering into my career field, I need to keep these contacts close for any future needs as
well, may it be an additional letter of recommendation or even asking for career advice. And of
course, keeping my bonding ties close will always be at the forefront for me too!
4. Developing and Presenting Information
How you develop and present information is just as important, if not more so, than the content
itself. When I was the President of my sorority, I often had to be conscious of my body language
and intentional with my words when reporting messages out to the chapter women. More
commonly, some other ways to ensure the quality of presenting information are to: credit any
sources, use an attention-getter, organize the information in a way that makes sense, engage your
audience in conversation, and be prepared to answer any possible questions. Although these
skills are often components of great teaching, my use of these will probably now fall under
developing and giving presentations to student leaders about topics such as time management or
how to create budgets for events.
5. Understanding Systems and Using Technology
Understanding systems is an important skill that may come with time and understanding of an
organization. Knowing the chain of command for an organization is important when deciding
who to reach out to about a particular issue or question. For example, when I was President of
my sorority and had a question about the voting process, I would contact my advisor. If my
advisor did not know the answer, she would email our Collegiate District Director. If that person
did not know the answer, she would then contact the person above her. Sometimes it would take
hours to days in order to get a finalized answer, but understanding and following the chain of
command is important when wanting to remain professional and respectful. Understanding the
proper process makes you appear to be educated and knowledgeable about the organization and
how it functions. Also, when it comes to using technology, it is important to do trial-runs with
the technology beforehand. For example, for my video interview for the Leadership Consultant
position a few weeks ago, I had to download the video software, Zoom, in advance to
troubleshoot any problems before the time of my actual interview. Understanding systems and
using technology is applicable to just about any career.
Knowing how you work in a team setting is just as important as recognizing how your other
team members work best too. When first being placed in a team, it is crucial to lay down a few
ground rules, such as the best form of communication for everyone (texting, GroupMe, Remind),
set goals for the project, assign tasks/roles to each member, ask who feels comfortable taking the
overall lead for the project, consider skills and personalities, set expectations for each task/role,
set a realistic timeline for tasks to be completed, establish check-in times (physically or
virtually), and lastly, even talk about what-not to do. By doing all of these things, you are setting
yourself and your team up for success. I enjoy working independently, as well as in teams. For
my future field, it is important to be able to excel in both facets dependent on the task at hand.
Team leaders are often the “go-getters” and “cheerleaders” of the group; I am often seen as the
team leader and am typically very comfortable in that role!
7. Applied Academic Skills
As it is rather common to need a certain level of math and English proficiency for just about any
job or profession, in my future field of higher education, I will need additional academic skills,
like writing and speaking professionally, knowing the history of Panhellenic (Greek life), etc.
Even as a member of my sorority, our history is very important to us and who we are, so
knowing historical details past the typical “when were you founded” can be encompassed within
these academic skills. If I were to get the opportunity to serve as a Leadership Consultant for
Sigma Kappa, I would have to use these skills when completing detailed write-ups for
headquarters after chapter visits, giving articulate presentations to chapter members, and running
professional meetings with Executive Council members.
8. Negotiation Skills
The area of negotiation skills was arguably the one I can see myself struggling the most with. As
it was highlighted in class, it is important to remember that negotiations are not confrontational.
It is important to have the mindset that negotiations are not always a win-lose type of
arrangement and that being optimistic can serve you well. Some tips when it comes to
negotiating are to do your homework (know the statistics/numbers), see the situation from all
angles and not just your own perspective, determine the best time to have this discussion, ask
clearly for what you want, and remain calm without getting emotional. For me, knowing I am an
emotional person, I certainly would need to focus on remaining calm and being optimistic before
walking into the discussion. It is important to speak and appear confident and relaxed while
negotiating. Additionally, it is important to note that you should ask for more than what you’re
expecting, so the employer can better meet you in the middle, especially when negotiating your
pay. I hope to get more comfortable and gain more confidence in this area as I enter into the
9. Personal Management
The activity that stuck out to me the most during the discussion of personal management was the
exercise about the areas of fun, talent, and demand. When doing this activity, I found that my
connecting pieces connected to education and my future goals of higher education as well.
Additionally, when analyzing my results of the 16 Personalities Test, I came across similar
findings that fit both my past career of education, as well as my future career goals. After I
changed my major to begin this semester, I remember asking myself how I could have gone
down the wrong path for myself for so long. After this course, especially after these two
exercises about personal management, I realized that the aspects of teaching and education that I
loved are also present in the things I now want to do. I wasn’t going down a “wrong” path, but
am rather using my background in education to propel myself into my next career field.
Ultimately, I want to go into a career that helps people, and although I could have done that as a
teacher, I can now do that by working with and influencing the lives of college-aged student
10. Using Employability Skills
As a former Elementary Education major, none of my courses or undergraduate experiences
aligned with being taught how to use employability skills post-graduation. As a current
Education and Human Development major, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about
using employability skills, such as how to construct a concise resume, build a strong cover letter,
practice interview skills, and participate in discussions around how to get a job after graduation. I
was able to put the assignments in this class to good use by writing a resume and corresponding
cover letter to fit the Leadership Consultant position that I ended up applying for, and using
those documents for, in mid November of this year. I felt much more confident submitting my
resume and cover letter after they had been reviewed in class. Additionally, knowing the kinds of
questions that could be asked in an interview is helpful when preparing for any type of interview,
so you can have the ability to practice some of the things you would like to say beforehand. I
hope that the combination of these employability skills, as well as the rest of the ten soft skills,
will help me land my first job after graduation!
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