#atozchallenge: opportunities are out there

In today’s economy, it can be difficult to achieve the goals and aspirations you set out to achieve. Things are different now. It is rare for a student to graduate from university, obtain a full-time permanent job and stay with that company. We are all too familiar with contract or internship work, unemployment or under-employment, and a lack of benefits and security.

After I completed my undergrad, I went to teachers college, with the intention of becoming a secondary school teacher. I missed the teacher shortage in Ontario by just a few years and so when I graduated with my teaching degree, jobs were scarce. Having been involved in residence life as an undergrad, I knew that student affairs was another rewarding career choice that would allow me to utilize my education background. After submitting a number of applications and going through multiple interview processes, I joined the housing team at Trent University in 2006. I didn’t realize at the time what opportunities would come from this, but looking back, this was the start of something big.

As a relatively small operation, our professional team wore many hats. We were encouraged to sit on institution-wide committees and connect with colleagues outside of our office (both on and off-campus). This is where my understanding of opportunities began. By saying yes, I took on roles I had never thought possible.

Seven years later, I have a much better idea of the opportunities that come from saying yes. Recently, a colleague asked me how I got so involved in ACUHO-I. It was a great opportunity to reflect on what I had said yes to and the impact those moments have had on me.

By saying yes, by raising my hand and saying “I’ll do it!”, I have had the opportunity to work with some phenomenal people and on some pretty neat projects and tasks. By saying yes, by serving our profession, I have become a better professional. I continue to say yes to continue learning and growing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this.

Now, I know that we hear a lot about “work-life balance” and that we need to learn to say no. It is important to know your limits and to not over-extend yourself to the point of exhaustion. Through this, I’ve learned to say yes to the things that bring me joy and add to my toolkit.

Opportunities are out there. Sometimes, the skills we need to advance in our careers are not developed through our full-time positions. We need to seek out, and say yes to, external opportunities. Join a committee, put your name forward to sit on a board of directors, write an article, or mentor a new professional. The opportunities are endless.

How do you make the most of the opportunities around you?

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