On this Labor Day, allow me to celebrate by presenting this blog to you, officially announcing my new position (or as I like to call it, my first big girl job): I am the new Admissions Recruiter in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor! The past six weeks, I have been going through training in Ann Arbor, but starting tomorrow, I will be in my true work home, the Detroit office! Let's all take 10 seconds to appreciate the beauty of the picture to the left, on my first day of work...
OK, now that you've had time to dwell in the glory of my revamped first day of school picture, let's break down the abundant blessings and subtle challenges of a life change as big as stepping into your first career:
1. Every Connection Matters
In the four months between my past job and this one, I'll be honest, I only spent maybe three or four days actively job hunting. On one of those days, I decided to go onto University of Michigan's career website, which is where I found this position. I saw there was the option to work in Ann Arbor or in Detroit. Due to Detroit being closer to my home, and moreover due to my heart wanting to help the students in the inner city more, I chose to work in the Detroit office.
When I told my parents that I applied for the job, they were stunned and said that the position was open because the person who last held that specific position in the Detroit office, just moved forward in his career to work elsewhere, and that was a person that they not only knew, but it was a person who is in their Jackson State University Alumni Club! Anyone who knows my family knows that JSU is the college of our hearts - both sides of my family up to three generations back, graduated from JSU. My parents both have incredible leadership positions within JSU, including my father having been the President of the Detroit Alumni Chapter for the past 10 years, and he is now passing his role down to none other than the young man who just left the position that I was applying for. Through that connection, I was able to gain valuable insight into the details of the position. I am eternally grateful to God for this young man who was more than willing to give a good word to my interviewers on my behalf.
God has such great foresight! All of my life my parents wanted me to go to JSU, even though I knew that wouldn't be my place. Yet, due to all of their service to the University that they love, it had a great impact to benefit me in the eyes of the University that I love. Another great connection that I found was that my current boss happens to be first cousins with my prophyte Soror, who also spoke well of me when called upon. Moral of the story: treat everyone well; it will always come back around to you, even to the generations coming after you.
2. School Spirit
Who is ready for the next football season? The next school year? The next incoming class of Michigan Wolverines? THIS GIRL... This girl is ready. I've definitely splurged on Maize & Blue everything - shoes, nails, clothes #dontjudgeme
This past Friday, the office had a fun fashion show called the Flare-Off, where we all wore our best Maize & Blue professional attire and the top fashionistas won prizes. I won 3rd place (I didn't have my nails done yet. I'd like to think that if they saw the picture posted above, I would've walked away with 1st) and received this dope football shaped candy dispenser that I can place in my office. If this doesn't entice children to apply for college, I don't know what will.
I loved my time as a student at UM, so it makes my heart beyond glad that I have a legitimate reason to hang around campus without it looking like I'm the old woman trying to relive her golden years.
3. Enjoying What You Do
I love to travel! On my fourth week of the job, I was sent to a new professional's conference with two co-workers. Now although the conference was still in MI and it was only a two hour trip away, I was so excited just to go somewhere! This was my first time having a hotel room all to myself. Small steps of growth like that make me very happy, so for that, I had to snap this picture.
The main parts of my job are 1) to visit high schools around the state, giving informational sessions 2) handling walk-ins, phone calls, and emails to advise students and parents 3) to review incoming freshman applications to build the next freshman class 4) hosting programs for prospective and admitted students throughout the year to encounter them with UM campus culture. With all of these different pieces, there is never a dull moment. I love that my mind is always engaged and that all the different parts of me (the speaker, the customer service specialist, the intellect, the event planner, the reader) are satisfied. Last week, I was sitting in a meeting and thought to myself, "I can't believe this is my life, that I get to come here and affect change everyday. Abba, I'm so thankful."
4. God's Forewarning
The Wednesday before my first day of work, I went to Bible study and the Word certainly was cutting everybody up that day LOL! We were talking about getting out of the poverty mindset and coming into the wealthy place. Some points that were spoken about:
When God was bringing out the Children of Israel from Egypt, the main thing that kept them from crossing over into the Promised Land was the fact that they couldn't get out of the slavery/poverty mindset. There are new places that God wants to take you, but if you keep the mindset of the old season, you won't be able to possess it.
Beware that when you come into the wealthy place, you forget who brought you there. Stay humble and be a GIVER!
Release your finances to God and be diligent and faithful with what He gives to you
Through this message, all I could repeat over and over was "Lord, I repent! Lord, I repent!" I repented for the times I didn't give and was stingy, and for how often I dealt in a poverty mindset. I was so grateful that He would point these things out BEFORE I made my big leap into the working world. Through the Word, I thought differently about my finances and have been very intentional about choosing my benefits plans, saving for retirement, paying off student loans, etc. Literally the next day after I repented and told God He could have my finances and all of me as well, I not only got my tax refund (which came so late, that I just gave up on the thought of it coming at all), but I also was summoned to meet with one of the Vice Provosts of the University of Michigan to speak about giving finances to my new poetry collective, The International Writers Guild (see bottom of this page for our upcoming event)! Repentance is powerful!
1. Student vs. Employee
I love being on campus, but it also reminds me that I'm there in a different way now. It is exciting to work, but part of my heart still feels like a student, especially because I have close friends who are still students. I myself remember what it felt like to get rejection letters from different Universities and how I was so upset as I couldn't understand how people who never met me, felt they had the right to tell me that I was somehow not good enough for their institution. Now, I am in that same position. How perplexing.
One day as I walked to the bus, I ran into two friends from undergrad. They now are taking Masters programs and I was wearing a suit. We took one look around our circle and just laughed at each other. We all felt that we were playing some sort of role or taking on a character that wasn't even us. Were we really old enough to be Masters students or have actual careers with benefits? I suppose it's more than just me who is going through such a transition. It's not bad, it's just different.
2. Navigating the Office While Never Losing Yourself
I am learning how to mesh and flow with a new culture, a company culture. I am aware that office politics probably exist, and for this reason, I have been very cautious, almost to a fault. For our all staff meeting, there was a surprise impromptu introduction of all of the new staff. There were about five of us who were new Admissions Counselors. As everyone was going down the line stating their names and all of their experiences within the last year and their ties to the Admissions office, I got nervous. I thought about how I am the only new hire that has never been an intern within the office and also the only person who does not have a direct tie with higher education. In thinking of my own experiences since graduation, all I could think of were some abroad experiences and my heart for the arts - all of which had nothing to do with Admissions, so when it came my turn, I said, "Hi. My name is Mikhaella. I graduated from here last year, and since then, I took a gap year." Later that week, the person who was part of the hiring team, asked me why I said I only took a gap year, when in actuality, she knew my past references who gave me glowing reports, and I even had to postpone my start date with the office due to my experience in Poland! I responded that I thought that wouldn't be a good answer since it didn't sound like the other answers that were given.
The truth is, my heart has always been in the arts and will always be there, so that is my background. Yet, I also have a huge heart for children furthering their education! The truth is, I don't have the background of my co-workers. I am the youngest person in the office and there are even interns who are older than me. I am learning, this is not something to be ashamed about. This is something to rejoice over because it directly shows the favor of God on my life. I am here for a reason. I am here for a reason - not the fake me who sanitizes her life for the appeasement of what others may want - just me, and all of who I truly am.
3. Loving the Journey
At the end of my first week, another co-worker was having her last week in the office, moving to another state after working there for a little over 5 years. The question then hit me: "how long am I going to be here?" It's funny how, if you allow it, you will always find a reason to worry. I used to wonder if I would ever get a job, especially one that I enjoyed. Then, just after one week of having one, I was worried about how long I would be there. I realized suddenly that I had never before had to be faithful to something longer than a 4 year increment. Is it even possible to stay in the same place for longer than that? 5, 6 or 7 years, taking me all the way up to my 30th birthday? Am I stuck?
In the end, I felt God calming me down, simply asking me, "Have you enjoyed yourself this week?" To this, I responded in the affirmative. "Then come back next week, and together, We will take it from there." Yes, Lord.
To end, I'm happy to say that even with this great new career, I'm still being truthful to myself by staying engaged with the arts community! Please come out and support me and my poetry collective, The International Writers Guild on this Friday, Sept. 8th for a FREE show at the Study Lounge in Ann Arbor! Keep supporting, keep loving, keep living your Freelife!