That’s right. ‘Tis the season: for snow and ice and long afternoons spent artfully avoiding that noisy item on your perpetual to-do list: the Personal Statement for Graduate School. Just putting it on the to-do list hasn’t gotten it done. Neither has eating every cookie in your house and your neighbor’s house (although, I applaud you for trying and urge you to continue as that is a delicious way of practicing avoidance). The bottom line is, the personal statement has to be written. And, it has to be written by you.

A personal statement has to be personal. It is one facet of the diamond of you that ywriters blockou will present to whatever institute(s) of higher education you choose, and it is an important one. The practice of writing a personal statement requires honest reflection, constructive self-criticism and provides a chance to sit with yourself and truly understand how you got here and where you want to go. If I write it for you, or your friends write it for you, or Google writes it for you, then you’ve skipped the process and missed the point. And, that graduate school committee will see right through it. They’ve read thousands of these.

As a professional with actual interest in writing, I still find constructing a personal statement to be extremely challenging, because there is no prescriptive way of doing it. If you look around, there is a lot of advice on how to put one together, a lot of it seemingly contradictory: “Start with a personal story that will grab their interest” and “Don’t get too dramatic and tell a story for shock value. That’s off-putting”;  or, “Don’t repeat your resume” and “Be sure to include experience and education that is relevant and has impacted your decision”. It is, justifiably so, difficult to know exactly what to include. So, look at all those suggestions, reflect on some answers to a few broad questions (Why do I want to go to this school? What do I bring as a student and professional? How do I see myself using and enhancing this education? Why didn’t I become a florist instead?) and then, do this . . .

Just start writing.

This is the best piece of advice I have ever received from a writing mentor. If you don’t know what to write, staring at a blank page is not going to help. Just write something down. I wrote a personal statement for grad school that started by typing the following words: “I’m writing a personal statement for grad school and it will probably suck because I can’t write and I don’t have anything to write about.”

I’m not kidding. (That line didn’t, unbelievably, make it into the final draft.)

I went on to list all the reasons I’m a terrible writer and that I have nothing to offer the programs.  I even got a little angry with the process (“Why should I have to prove that I fit with this program? I’m supposed to be a counselor, I can be a counselor, I want to be a counselor, what other proof do they need?!”) As I typed, I realized that soon, through all of the muck, some actual gems of information started to shine: some of my motivations for pursuing school again after I said I would never go to graduate school; some of my goals for what I would glean from graduate school; some of my turning points and learning curves that impacted my ability to be successful in a master’s program.  And most importantly, it was all my voice.

Once you’ve gotten the flow going a bit, then start adding in some of the things you’ve been instructed to do: talk about coursework that you think is important, show some of your strengths and abilities and examples of you using them, talk about impactful personal and professional experiences and explain your interest in a program’s characteristics. Don’t worry about format or structure yet. Those are things that can be edited and worked with after you feel that some of the integral parts of your content are already on paper.

Try that approach as a start if you haven’t already started writing. And perhaps start rationing the cookies a bit more strictly, to avoid a complete brain overload and sugar crash.

And if you want more, try out these tips for preparing a statement:

Do your research. Know the programs and the schools to which you are applying. You ought to be able to identify and articulate a thorough answer to the question “Why do you want to complete your graduate studies in this particular program?” If you are struggling to come up with anything to answer this question, then take the time to look into the program more. Utilize their web page, contact the program and graduate school main office, read the mission and vision statements and learning objectives, look into the archives of the program’s projects, coursework, research topics and more. Anything you can do to better understand why the program exists the way it does will help you understand whether you have sincere interest in being part of it.

Follow directions. Please read the instructions for the personal statement. Oftentimes, programs will include a specific question or set of questions to answer or address. If not, and it is a general personal statement, it still needs to be written in a way that is directed toward what you learned from doing your research.

Avoid canned phrases and ideas. I would wager that you are all aware of this, but might want a reminder now and again: almost every person who wants to be a doctor likes science and wants to help people. Unearth some other reasons you want to go to medical school. And likewise for your field of interest. Get creative.

Show instead of tell. Anyone can say “I’m awesome and I have all these skills and interests that you should care about.” Instead of listing why you are awesome, show them: concrete illustrations of initiative you’ve taken, hard lessons you’ve learned, instances that have inspired you and how you’ve played a role in the world. Connect the examples to the program and continued education and active learning.

Don’t throw a pity party. If struggling through something in life has impacted you in a way that is significant and speaks to who you are and how you plan to be, that is ok. The struggle is ok and often ends up being rewarding in one way or another. However, the struggle is not always the reason that you want to go to law school, or get a graduate degree in public health or history. It might be, or it might be part of the story, or it might have nothing to do with your graduate school goals whatsoever. If the latter is the case, please don’t make that experience the main focus of your personal statement. Pulling at heartstrings is not the most direct way into graduate school.

Good luck and come see us in Career Services for help, encouragement, and to share those cookies . . .!


posted by Malia Arenth, Career Counselor

blog photoHow do You Know When it’s Time to Go?

Graduate school requires a commitment of time, money, and energy. Determining the ideal time in your life for pursing a graduate degree is often difficult, however; if you are asking yourself whether or not now is the time for graduate school that may be an sign it is at least an appropriate moment to seriously consider applying to a graduate program.

For individuals in any situation three important factors to consider before applying to graduate school may be motivation, financing, and feasibility.

Defining your motivation for enrolling in a graduate degree program requires you to think about the things you hope to accomplish by earning your graduate degree. These goals will be different for every individual, but having a general understanding of your motivations for pursuing a graduate degree may help you evaluate if getting a graduate degree is the best way of achieving those goals.

Attending graduate school costs money, thinking about the ways you plan to finance your graduate school education is an important step in determining if it is financially possible and responsible to attend graduate school in the near future. Upon inspection you may discover you need to develop a longer term plan to explore scholarship, grant, or assistantship/fellowship options or build up your savings to offset the costs of school.

Determining feasibility entails taking a look at how graduate school will fit into your life, this includes consideration of the amount of time you expect to be in graduate school, and other personal goals you may have such as starting a family or moving to a specific city, state or country. It may also include determining the amount of debt you can reasonably acquire and your current situation in the workplace.

After taking time to think about the factors discussed above you may have a clearer picture of the appropriateness of attending graduate school in the near future and the type of program you would like to apply to. It may also provide a starting point for establishing a plan for success in graduate school.

Graduating from an Undergraduate Program

If you are currently a college student, you might be thinking of going straight to graduate school. Your area of study and your professional goals should help you make this decision. You may want to pursue a graduate degree because it is absolutely required for your intended career path or you may feel a need for more training in your field. These are good reasons to consider immediately enrolling in graduate school following completion of your undergraduate degree.

Some undergraduate programs offer advanced standing graduate programs enabling students to earn a graduate degree by completing 1 additional year of study immediately following completion of their undergraduate education.  If your program offers an advanced standing option it may be worthwhile to consider continuing your education without taking a break between your undergraduate and graduate studies.

Even if you are certain graduate school is in your future, it can also be a great idea to get a little real world experience prior to enrolling in a graduate program. Spending some time in the real world may give you a better understanding of the area of research you would like to specialize in as a graduate student or you might want to see how much you really need a graduate degree to follow a particular path.

Assistantships are a great option for students thinking of enrolling in graduate school immediately after earning their undergraduate degree. Earning an assistantship means you may be able go to school without paying tuition. You can also gain valuable work experience.  Even though the stipend you receive for that work might not be great, the free education and benefits might outweigh the small amount of pay – especially if you are not already accustomed to a higher salary and you do not to have too many financial demands.

Experiencing Difficult Economic Times

Earning a graduate degree may be a good strategy to help change the course of your career. Even during healthy economic time’s unemployment, underemployment, and job dissatisfaction are causes for concern among the working population. Graduate school may offer individuals the opportunity to network, gain new knowledge and skills, and refocus their career. Graduate school may enhance a person’s current resume helping them gain advancement within an organization or grab the attention of a hiring manager at a new firm. The time and financial commitments of a graduate degree make it important for individuals making the decision to enroll in graduate school to make a full commitment to the process and do everything possible to get the most out of their time in a graduate program.

There is some controversy in the blogosphere about the benefit of graduate school for unemployed individuals concerning whether or not it is a wise decision to take on additional debt during a time of financial hardship, however; while the decision to advance your education is timely and costly it may be a good option for individuals who are truly invested in the idea of gaining more knowledge and expertise in their field or interested in entering into a new career path. Be sure to carefully consider your personal circumstances before enrolling in a graduate program. Carefully weigh the costs and benefits of graduate school against your personal and career objectives and explore a variety of program offerings and formats before making your final decisions.

During your Career

If you have been working for a while and feel compelled to get more education, see if your employer will pay for you to earn a graduate degree. It isn’t an option in all fields, but it makes even more sense financially than an assistantship; you will be gaining the same work experience while you earn your degree, but you will be getting paid a regular salary rather than a more meager stipend. The downside, of course, is that it can be very demanding on your time. (Assistantships are built for graduate students; most other jobs are not).  Still, if you have the motivation to get your school work done in your spare time, it can be a great option.

Some programs are designed especially for working professionals; they might not be tuition-free, but they might enable you to earn your degree quickly enough that the out-of-pocket cost to you will be manageable. For example, summer programs are increasingly available for teachers who wish to earn a master’s degree. They can go to school full-time while they are not working and thereby finish the degree in just one or two summers. Evening programs are also popular in a number of fields. You might need more time to complete one, but you can probably afford the monthly part-time tuition if you are still working.

Individuals who plan to work full time while attending graduate school should also find out if the graduate program they are interested in has any field work, research, travel or practicum/internship requirements. These requirements may affect a person’s ability to work at their current job during normal office hours and may create additional time constraints. Discuss any potential conflicts with a school advisor and your work supervisor in advance to determine the feasibility of completing this type of educational requirement while maintaining a full time job.

If working and going to school at the same time seems like too much of a time commitment, you might want to consider taking some time off for full-time study. This is an especially good idea if you are thinking of some sort of change in your path. It will undoubtedly mean a financial sacrifice, though you can still benefit from an assistantship or fellowship as well as from your own personal savings.

Information compiled by the team – January 2013


This post was written by a guest blogger and the content for the post approved by Oregon State University Career Services. We are not responsible for the content on the guest blogger’s personal website and do not endorse their site.



Falling and Flying

You are graduating! Congratulations! Think back on the enormous amount of work, time, and energy you put in to achieving this goal. You should be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. But, maybe in addition to the relief and excitement and pride you feel, the whole idea of finishing college and starting something else is scary. It was for me.

Even with all the celebration, it’s important to realize that this is a huge life transition. You may be moving, which entails possibly losing touch with some of your friends and best supporters here at OSU. You may be entering industry or the job market and unsure of what to expect. You may be continuing to graduate school and nervous about the academic rigor of a graduate level program. You may be starting a year of service program or traveling somewhere. Or you may not know what’s next for you. A lot of graduating seniors aren’t sure what’s next for them.

So, how can you manage all this flux and change? What is the best way to approach this transition?

  • First, remember to talk to your friends and family about how you feel about graduating; sometimes the easiest way to relieve anxiety is to simply tell someone else about it. If you’re nervous about losing touch with a particular friend or group, let them know that you don’t want that to happen and make a plan to stay in touch.
  • Second, get that job preparation process underway! Do research on your industry. Perfect your resume and cover letter. And work on figuring out what’s next. If you have something, travel or work or an internship, lined up, you will feel less fearful. It is never too early or too late to put together a plan. (For more on this, check out our website.)
  • Third, begin imagining yourself as a non-student, especially if you don’t remember a time when you weren’t one. One way to do this is to list the differences you see between student life and professional life. Once you have your list, you can find substitutes to fulfill the needs that these essential student characteristics fill. For instance, if one of your favorite things about being a student is the social group you’ve established through the Management Club, than finding a regional professional organization in your field and attending their meetings can provide a substitute.
  • Fourth, you will want to really think about these kinds of questions: How will you grow and continue to learn? Who are you without your major to define you? What could you do with your time now that you will be without papers, exams, and group projects? What skills do you have to give to your community? You may not come up with full formed answers yet but asking is still important.
  • Lastly, if you can look at finishing college and beginning your professional life as an adventure, instead of as something to fear, you will probably relax about the process. In an adventure, you don’t always know what will come next, what will be around the bend, or what’s in store. Instead of fear, what we feel when we’re on an adventure is excitement and exhilaration. We feel alive and awake! Inspire yourself to look at this transition like a fabulous adventure movie with you as the star. The difference is you only get to do it once; so try not to spend your time worried about what’s to come. Just live it!

Posted by Jessica Baron, Graduate Assistant Career Advisor


Ready to get inspired for your job, internship, or career search? Each month we will spotlight an OSU student that has inspired us when it comes to their career development. Check out their success stories—besides inspiration, they also show that academic major does not have to restrict your goals and that there are many ways to define success.

Want to nominate an OSU student or alum for the Student/Alum Spotlight series? Or do you want to share your own success? Then please fill out this quick form and Career Services will contact the person nominated.

Name: Maria Garcia
Major: Human Development and Family Sciences
Year in school: Senior
Graduate Program: College Student Services Administration (CSSA)


1. Tell us about yourself (include your background, career goals/aspirations, etc.).

I am a first generation student who comes from an agricultural family. I was introduced to the idea of Student Affairs as a career from one of my mentors during my first year as an undergraduate.  I loved the idea of working with students who come from marginalized groups and providing the support that they need to succeed in college/higher education.  I hope to one day work within student recruitment, orientation and retention and provide students the resources they need.

 2. How did you decide to apply to grad school and what did you do in your undergrad to make you a strong applicant?

I applied to graduate school because the thought of having to look for a job after I finished my undergraduate scared me.  I feel like I need the specific information that only a program, such as CSSA, can provide.  I also really liked the cohort model and ability to have assistantships and internships as I completed my master’s.

I can definitely say that I took the extra time to put myself in different experiences that would shape my ability to work with others as a whole.  I volunteered my time at the local elementary and high school and ensured that I was involved on campus.  My two main jobs as an undergraduate also shaped my opportunity to learn as I engaged with others at the OSU Writing Center and the Campus Visitor Center.  Two of my internships at the Dean of Student Life at OSU, and the Independent Living Program at the Corvallis Community Consortium, influenced me to help others who might need extra help.

 3. What advice do you have for others when it comes to their career search and ways to find out their passion?

Explore!  Go out and try new things.  Sounds easy, but you will only know what you like and don’t like if you give it a shot.  You also have to prioritize stuff when it becomes too much or have additional responsibilities.

4. Did Career Services assist you anyway? If so, how?

Career Services was part of my success in the process of filling out my application!  Initially I worked with Jessica Baron on my resume, and later on established a partnership with Jen Busick to work on my essays.  I found it amazing to work with Career Services because they were flexible and willing to help.  My appointments were also very personalized to my needs and was able to be very productive.

Thanks Maria for being our Student Spotlight! If you are interested in graduate school there are many resources available to you on the OSU Career Services website, including a specific section on graduate and professional school. Be sure to check it out!

Make Sure You Do Your Research to Find the Grad Program that Fits!

Week 9, can you believe it?? The Career Changer is back to tell the penultimate episode of her wavy career path, a career path that continues on in this moment, as I sit here at my desk in Career Services at OSU. But cutting right to it, when I left off last time, I was working as the Director for a nonprofit in Colorado. Yet no matter how much I enjoyed that work, I knew that I wanted to be in higher education, advising students, using some of the administrative, leadership, and team building skills that I was cultivating in my work as an office manager for a real estate agency and a nonprofit administrator, as well as my teaching and tutoring background. I realized, as I was applying for the jobs I really wanted at colleges and universities, that I might not have the degree that most applied to my field of interest. I was definitely competing against applicants who had a degree directly related to advising and educational administration.

I needed one of those degrees if I wanted one of those jobs. So, I began the search for my next graduate school. This time, my process of searching was much more intentional. I took note of the degrees that colleges and universities preferred their applicants to have. For instance, many of the job descriptions I looked at that sounded exciting to me would say, “Preferred Master’s in Higher Education, College Student Personnel, Educational Leadership, College Student Services, or Related”, so I was looking for one of these degrees. To search, I found professional organizations associated with higher education, several of which have databases that list graduate school programs in the field. I examined programs’ courses of study, their placement statistics, their requirements, and their mission statements and values. A priority for me in a school concerned location; I didn’t want to attend a school in a community in which I did not want to live. The opportunity for funding was a huge factor as well, as I did not want to graduate from a program with an enormous amount of debt in my mid-thirties, and I also wanted job experience to help me get my first position out of school. Graduate programs will often offer assistantships, for research, teaching, or administrative work, in exchange for a monthly stipend and a tuition remission. These assistantships are amazing opportunities for students to fund their own education.

In the end, I applied to just four institutions; four schools that I thought would give me the total package to graduate with the experience and knowledge to get the position of my dreams. When you are considering graduate school, it is important to do this level of research. Because graduate programs can last 2, 3, 5, or even 7 years of your life, you want to ensure that you will learn and grow in the ways that you intended and also in ways that may be surprising. Ask yourself what your goals are and how each program will help you achieve those goals. Also, talk to current students and faculty. Do you fit with the program and the campus culture? In my case, it was clear to me after my interviews that I wanted to be at OSU. This worked out well, since here I am, blogging to you all!

Have a great end of the term, and I’ll be back finals week with some closing thoughts about what it means to forge your own wavy path through your vocational life. There isn’t a right way, just a right way for you!

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Me Near the Colorado Sand Dunes After Graduating

Welcome back, everyone! Can you believe that we are already in the third week of spring term? Hope your courses are going really well, and you’re enjoying warmer, sunnier weather every day.

So, I’m the Career Changer, Jessica, and I’ve been writing all year about my wavy career path to illustrate that the straight path isn’t always the right path to a rewarding life’s work. The last time I wrote, I told you about how I was teaching composition and creative writing in an MFA program, enjoying my students, and learning about myself every day. Although stressful and busy, these three years were an amazing period of my life!

As I was finishing my thesis, (a 120 page book of poetry!) I began to realize that the moments I most enjoyed with my students were one-on-one. As part of my writing course curriculum, I had several conferences set up over the course of the term with my students, and I loved when they would come into my office and tell me what was going on in their writing AND in their academic lives. It was exciting to hear about the diverse paths, interests, and goals of my students, almost like getting to experience all these things myself by learning about their strategies to find their way in the world. I began to provide my students with feedback and resources so that they could make more informed choices, and it was really fun!

When I graduated from the program, I knew that what I really wanted to do was advising of some sort. At first, this was disappointing because I had spent the past three years preparing for a career in writing instruction. But I valued the experience, and I felt that a lot of to skills I learned in those three years applied directly to advising. But since this was a shift in my plan, I needed some time to regroup. I decided to go back to the Creede Repertory Theatre to work as an actor for the summer again; I’d figure out what was next after that.

What was next was a wedding and a winter in a very cold house and a couple of new jobs that taught me a ton along the way. I’ll fill you in on these next time.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” focuses on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

It's me on a good teaching day!

Can you believe it is week ten? This term has flown by for me; I wonder if it has for you too. Terms didn’t fly by like this in my previous graduate degree. We were on semesters! Sixteen weeks to delve deep into subject matter or get tired of subject matter that no longer interested you. In my last Career Changer post, I started my graduate program at Colorado State University in Creative Writing. My first year, I spent tutoring in a writing center, but I really wanted to get a teaching assistantship, so that I could teach and try out my chosen career path. So, I worked really hard my first year and applied for my second year. And I got one! A graduate teaching assistantship meant that I would teach one or two sections of college composition (similar to OSU’s Writing 121 Course) each term, and I would receive a tuition remission and a monthly stipend.

At the beginning of my second year, I went through an intense training course for two weeks to prepare for my first class. We were given a syllabus, readings, and lesson plans to follow. We gave practice lessons to each other and wrote personal teaching philosophies. This experience, I decided, was going to be great fun. And it was fun. Looking back on my first semester teaching college composition, I truly enjoyed the interaction I got to have with my students, learning their stories, and working with them on their writing. Each day I was teaching, I geared up to seem confident and act like I knew what I was talking about. That is the crazy thing: a lot of the information I was teaching to my students was information I was learning along with them. Not to say that I wasn’t a good writer, I was. But I hadn’t learned the rhetorical strategies, the structures, the genres, the ways to learn how to write. I just knew writing was something I was good at, but I didn’t always know the best way to teach it to others.

This fact became especially difficult in dealing with one particular student in my first semester. I had one older than average student in my class. He was in his mid-50s, and for most of his life, he ran a successful photography shop. He could see the direction that the industry was moving, however, with more digital and online media, so he retired and closed the store. Now, he wanted to begin again in a new career. But sometimes it was difficult for him to take direction from a teacher more than 30 years younger than he, and sometimes it was difficult for me to have the confidence to teach someone with so much more life experience than me. It was also tricky for him to have patience with some of the traditionally aged students in the class, who sometimes came to class late or fell asleep in the back row or didn’t turn their work in on time or didn’t come prepared for a peer review day. I learned a lot from this student, and this learning is why I most enjoy teaching and working with college students. I end up learning more than I end up teaching, about myself and about other people.

Happy Week 10, Everyone! I’ll be back in the spring term with more episodes about my wavy career path. Have a great finals week and spring break!

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Sometimes we need to stop and reflect about what comes next.

Career Changer, Jessica, here, ready with another episode in the tale of my wavy career path. Last episode, I was in Colorado, working at the Gifts & Gas, when I decided I would go to graduate school. I made this decision for a couple of reasons, some good and some not so good. First, as part of my winter in this small mountain community, my favorite memories occurred during a Women’s Writing Group that I helped create. Six or seven women would gather at one of our homes on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night, share things we were writing, respond to creative writing prompts, and share those impromptu writings as well. I really enjoyed coming up with writing activities for the group, challenging myself with writing, and the whole experience allowed me to share things through writing that I might not share in casual conversation. So, I thought, why don’t I go to school to do this as a job? Why don’t I get a degree in creative writing so that I can be a writing instructor and do this all the time?

I mentioned that there were good reasons for me to go back to school and a couple of maybe not so good reasons. One good reason was that I was truly going to pursue something that I loved doing. Another good reason was that I could see myself in higher education, working in some capacity at a college or university. I loved college towns, and I could see myself raising a family in a college-centered community. However, some of the other reasons I went back to school involved a lack of knowledge, about myself and about the field I would enter. I didn’t quite know what was next for me. I felt a little lost, and thought, why not more school? I wasn’t a person who was motivated by writing; I didn’t need to write, but I enjoyed it. Also, the creative writing instructor market is pretty saturated with MFA graduates trying to secure professorships. I didn’t know then that it can take 10 to 15 years to find a secure creative writing job at a college or university. I probably could have done a bit more homework investigating my own strengths and ultimate goals and what I could expect afterward.

Without acknowledging all my reasons, good or bad, I applied to 9 programs across the country. I applied so many places because creative writing programs can be competitive. Only three of the nine schools admitted me, and I decided to go to Colorado State University.

In August of 2006, I began my first graduate degree, an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. We found a house to live in, and I settled into the fast pace of graduate level coursework. Let me tell you – it was intense! I tutored for several hours a week in the writing center and spent all day Saturday and Sunday each week reading and writing. Remember that I’d been out of school for 6 years; it was difficult. But I eventually found my footing and made it through my first year, studying poets I’d never heard of before, writing my own poems and critiquing my peers work, and investigating theory, something I’d never engaged with before. Next time, I’ll tell you about my 2nd and 3rd years of school and what happened when I graduated. Have a great Week 8, OSU!

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Here at Career Services, not only do we offer professional one-on-one career counseling, resume/cover letter critiques, mock interviews, and career assessments, but we also house a new well-renovated, cozy space that serves as the Career Resource Library. The new Resource Library has been a great addition to the lobby of Career Services and it offers a variety or career-related resources that specifically help with career development, career decision-making, and career exploration.

If you have  an interest in exploring the world via an internship abroad or volunteering in another country, we have information that helps you to explore many different types of career related work that you can do. Peace Corps is one of the programs that is supported by OSU Career Services and we have a Peace Corps Representative who specializes in helping students who have a passion in gaining an experience aboard. Peace Corps information can be found in our Resource Library along with information about Teach for America, the JET Programme, AmeriCorps, and the IE 3 Global Internship program. Come check it out!

We have many books and guides that allow you to do career exploration, occupational researching, and gain information about the job search process. There is a great series of books that is currently on our shelves published by VGM Career Horizon titled Great Jobs. These books are tailored specifically for an intended major, ranging from Art, Business, Engineering, Psychology, and everything in between.  These books focus on how you can:

  • Discover all your career options
  • Target your ideal career
  • Set a path to advance your career
  • Assess your strengths and interests
  • Explore unusual career paths
  • Set strategies for getting the job that you want.

If you are interested in careers that focus on environmental issues, we have Green Careers resources that can be beneficial for your success. Special career focuses such as Non-profit organization work, Social Services, and Entrepreneurship are all great resources that we offer for those that are interested in these career fields.

We have the Job Choices magazine series that allow you to focus on the job market of certain types of career fields. Its features tips on how to succeed in interviews , job search techniques, things that employers are looking for in an employee, resume and cover letters tips, along with the ins and outs of certain career pathways.

If you’re looking for a place where you can sit and relax on a comfy couch and read about your career of interest, our Career Resource Library is the right place for you!  Resources are updated  frequently, therefore you’ll get the latest news in the job market and information about your career of choice. These resources are super useful in terms of helping you gain confidence of obtaining the dream career that you’ve always wanted.

Posted by Phi Vu, Career Services Assistant

Born and raised in small town Iowa, I grew up watching many people follow a similar path.  Most completed some form of college while also meeting a future spouse, found a job in the Midwest, and settled down in time to begin a family.  Beginning college at the University of Northern Iowa, I too thought I was destined for this type of future.  I pursued and received a degree in elementary education, and soon after took a full time job teaching 2nd grade in a near Iowa city.  I was well on my way to obtaining all the pieces involved in the traditional Iowa picture of adulthood.  However, I always felt like something was missing.
During college and my first year of teaching, I began to discover facets of myself different than the life ahead of me.  I became a camp counselor for the world wide organization Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services and fell in love with international travel as I worked in Hawaii, Japan, Spain, England, and Germany.  Through this travel, I also found I enjoyed being outdoors, and dreamed about living in a place with mountains, an ocean close by, and opportunities for biking and camping.  I began researching places in the Pacific Northwest, toying with the idea of uprooting my life in Iowa.  During the spring break of my first year of teaching, I decided to take a trip to Oregon to attend a career fair for teachers.  I hoped to find a teaching job in the northwest that would allow me to move to a place more conducive to the lifestyle I imagined.  Attending the fair, though, I realized very few school districts were in a position to hire, and without any contacts in the area, my chances of finding a job were small.
I decided to stay in Iowa for another year, understanding that moving across the country without a job would be foolish.  However, Camp Adventure had caught wind that I was interested in living in Oregon.  While teaching that year, I was offered the chance to take a side job as the Staff Development Coordinator for the state of Oregon.  I was tasked with the recruitment, training, and supervision of one hundred college students from the three state universities.  I spent the year teaching Monday through Friday and flying to Oregon every other weekend.  While working in this position, I found that even more than elementary students, I enjoyed working with the college age group.  Trying to juggle such a hectic schedule, though, I knew it was time to take a close look at my life and decide what I really wanted.
While recruiting at Oregon State University, I quickly grew fond of the city of Corvallis.  The charming city, the nearby Pacific Ocean, and the short drive to Mt. Hood were all characteristics that made me envy those who lived there.  In early October of that year, I decided to explore OSU’s website for potential graduate programs, hoping for a second try at moving west.  I stumbled upon the College Student Services Administration graduate program website.  The program would be two years in length, would prepare me to work in the field of higher education, and had opportunities to gain funding through assistantship positions.  I was immediately intrigued.  I emailed the coordinator of the program and set up a visit during one of my weekend trips.  I decided to apply and promised myself that if I were to get accepted and received funding, I would take a leap of faith and make the move.
I spent three months completing the application process.  The application itself was split into two pieces, a portion for the Graduate School of OSU, and a portion for the actual program.  The process involved creating a quality resume, working with my references to draft recommendation letters, researching the program and its competencies, creating a personal statement, and writing short essays.  I only applied to one graduate school, but it is more common for students to apply to many to ensure a successful outcome.
I turned in my completed packet of materials for review in January.  During the beginning of February, I was notified that I had been selected to interview for the program.  I spent two days interviewing in February.  To prepare for the interviews, I purchased a professional suit, practiced mock interviews with my mentors, gathered as much information as I could about the program to ensure I could tailor my interview answers, and created a list of questions I had for the interviewers.  Having taken a large amount of time to prepare, I entered the experience with more confidence.  The interview session was two days in length.  I spent the first day interviewing for assistantship positions, and the second day interviewing for the program.  All interviews were in front of a panel of representatives.  Upon returning to Iowa, I sent follow up thank you notes and then hoped for the best.
Near the end of March, I received word that I had been accepted into the program and was also offered an assistantship through the Career Services office.  I was hit by a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and a bit of anxiety.  Staying true to my promise, though, I accepted both offers and put in my resignation from my current teaching position.  I spent my remaining months in Iowa creating a budget plan, searching for apartments, and lining up summer work.
I moved to Corvallis in mid June to set up my apartment.  Once settled, I spent six weeks in Europe with Camp Adventure supervising the students I had worked with throughout the year.  I then began my assistantship and the first term of my program in September.  My first term consisted of four classes.  I took each class alongside 19 other students, forming a tight-knit cohort.  The courses were rigorous and involved a higher quality of reading and writing than I was used to, but I found the information to be extremely interesting.  I also found out how lucky I was to be offered an assistanship with Career Services.  I became a part of a very friendly office and now have the chance to advise students, give outreach presentations, and supervise the work of undergraduate employees.  Transitioning from my undergraduate years to graduate school, I am adjusting to and enjoying the higher expectations, being treated like a professional, personal responsibility, and a more focused curricula.  My life here has truly come together.  After finishing up my first term, I spent ten days back in Iowa for the holidays.  While it was wonderful to be home, I was reaffirmed that I had made the right choice.       Transitioning to a new location and into life as a graduate student can be a daunting experience, but with preparation and planning, the payoff is great.

Posted by Bobbi Meyer, Career Services Graduate Assistant