The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, But You Should Check Anyway

By: Kirsi

image: green grass growing
Text: the grass isn't always greener, but you should check anyway

I thought I had my post-college life figured out. This summer I received a verbal job offer, determined a location to work, and established a network of friendly coworkers. For seven internship/Co-Op tours, I got to know this job site and found work there that best fit my interests. Out of nowhere I was contacted by a different center of the same organization. They offered a similar job position in an extremely different environment and work culture. I have made a binding offer acceptance with one of these two jobs! Here is how I worked through my dilemma: 

basket of pens and pencils with one pencil on table beside basket.

This basket of writing utensils is all possible jobs I can pick from. The pencil is the first job offer I received at the place I am most familiar with. The pencil is sturdy, predictable, and perfectly fine. I am so happy with the pencil I found I do not feel the need to try any of the other writing utensils.

Basket of pens and pencils with a pen and pencil on table beside the basket.

Out of the blue, a multicolor retractable pen gets chucked at my face. Unexpectedly, I experienced an “ooh something shiny” moment. This pen is the coolest and I can’t believe I was happy with a pencil. Suddenly the new opportunity seemed to be the best opportunity – but I wasn’t sure why and if that was true.

My Worries

  • Was the appeal of my well known option only more attractive because it was a safe? I was not sure if this was true or not, but I was aware familiarity can be a fallacy while determining what is best.
  • FOMO (fear of missing out) – I wanted to be sure I chose to work where I would be useful and where there were the most projects.
  • Will I enjoy life outside of work at xyz location?
  • Will where I work value me and assign me projects beyond busy work?

How I Explored The Options

  • I talked to trusted advisors and mentors about what my options were and what questions I should ask each job site.
  • I evaluated my values I want to practice at work, in personal life, and hobbies.
  • I imagined in more detail what my day to day would look like at each job.

and most importantly….

  • I interviewed and toured onsite at the new job offer. 

Touring the site of the new job offer was invaluable. Every worry, preconceived notion, rumor, and assumption melted away. I felt I gathered enough information to feel confident about making a decision. I walked around the location, drove around the area, tried food nearby, shopped in a grocery store nearby, and spoke with prospective supervisors and team members.

After a lot of thought, reflection, and advisement I accepted the first job site’s offer. Ultimately, I made this choice because I found the work at the first job site most interesting. I feel self-assured that the decision I made was truly mine and not influenced by anyone or force with bias.

Of Possible Interest
UMD Health Services & Career & Internship Services – chatting with a mental health or career counselor can be a great way to help with the decision-making process
The Basics of Salary Negotiation
How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Chang Qing & Kirsi

Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Myself

By: Katie

In a previous post, I talked about the lessons I learned about others from reading and watching Harry Potter. Now, I will look at the wisdom of Harry Potter through what it taught me about myself.

Living in a cupboard isn’t fun.

I mean this literally, but figuratively as well. It’s easy to feel confined by the walls you or others have built around you, but those walls shouldn’t become your prison. It’s easy to hide parts of you or not acknowledge them to others out of fear of rejection, embarrassment, or regret, but no one deserves to live cramped and uncomfortable inside a cupboard with a ceiling that sprinkles dust on them when people walk overhead.  Hiding yourself seems like the easier option at first, but it’s likely going to hurt you as time goes on. Whatever it is you’re hiding, whether it be that you turn into a werewolf at the full moon or something a little less extreme, that thing doesn’t define you, so don’t let it dictate how you live.

HP Quote

Don’t be afraid of your darker parts.

Fun fact: J.K. Rowling created dementors as a metaphor for depression. For her, these haunting figures represented a very real darkness she had experienced in her life. Everyone has experienced darkness, whether that darkness has passed or it follows them around, sucking all the joy out of their world. For many of us, the instinct to ignore or hide from such parts is natural. However, these parts of us are just as important to who we are as the parts we love. Whether it be something you aren’t proud of, a secret you’re holding, or something difficult that has happened to you, these things can build up in precarious piles around the edges of your life until they inevitably fall down on you. Instead of waiting for them to collapse, embrace the darker parts of you and your life. Confronting the cobwebby corners of your mind forces you to acknowledge difficult things, yes, but through the process, you learn that those things have helped make you who you are. Take a note from Rowling and banish your darkness with a patronus charm. Or, you know, a more muggle-like coping mechanism. Whatever works.

Don’t sacrifice your values.

If you’ve ever been in a position which required you to forego your values to meet expectations or requirements, you know it isn’t easy. And if you’re like me, it’s painful. It’s easier to cave in and follow expectations, no doubt, but there are times when obedience isn’t the answer. Consider our favorite magical trio. Harry, Ron, and Hermione chose to begin Dumbledore’s Army to fight against the restrictive and ineffective teaching policies of Hogwarts during the Umbridge days (shudder). If you’ve seen the movies or read the books (and if you haven’t, stop reading this now and go do that), you know this endeavor wasn’t without challenges or consequences. However, the students’ magical training helped keep them alive. While the related situations in your life probably aren’t of life or death importance (and if they are, I would advise you to stop reading this now as well and seek help instead), this same idea applies. It may be easier in the moment to do something you don’t believe in, but the regret that may come later just isn’t worth it.

The challenges, failures, and successes of the Harry Potter characters may be more magical than the ones we face (unfortunately), but they still can provide us with lessons we can apply to our own muggle lives. In my next and last post in this series, I will talk about the lessons the wizarding world taught me about success.

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Your Motives for Doing What You Do

By: Emily

There is a lot of conflicting career advice out there that puts certain types of motivation in right and wrong categories. The idea of following your dreams, for example, is often considered noble, but to pursue a job solely because it will make you a great deal of money might be viewed as the “wrong” motivation. The truth is, we are people with different personalities, backgrounds, values and needs. In the end, only you can determine whether or not you are being true to your own values.

Career Values

When you are considering where you want to work and what you’d like to do, it can be helpful to step back and assess your motives. Here are a few types of motivation that you might identify with:

Security

Who do you hope to provide for in the future? Some people’s primary concern is whether or not they will be able to provide for themselves. They know with personal financial security comes the freedom and independence they that need to feel happy. For people motivated by security, money might be seen as a way to provide for the people they love either in the present or future. This motivation is common among personality types that are considered “planners”. If you have a tendency to think about the future, a dislike for transition periods and uncertainty, and enjoy working in a structured setting with clear expectations, you might value security.

Money

What type of lifestyle are you hoping to obtain or sustain? Money opens doors and can be a way to achieve your dreams of traveling around the world, or starting up a business or going to the Olympics. Having a lot of money is tied not only to security, but also to status. If you are motivated by money, it might be important to you that you have nice things and are seen in a certain way. To some, working is a way to achieve a luxurious or comfortable lifestyle.

Passion

Do you love what you are doing? This motivation type is more based on emotions and the present moment. People who pursue their passion are genuinely enjoying the process of getting where they’re going. Since it is emotion-based, this type of motivation is subject to change or expand depending on your experiences.

Competition

Do you have something to prove to yourself or someone else? Some of the most amazing human feats were accomplished through competition. Competition is often tied to ego and even though it can push you to do your best work, it can also produce many emotional highs and lows. For instance, it may be difficult for you to find contentment if you are not the best or you don’t view yourself as “winning”.

Fear

Are you doing what you’re doing because you’re afraid of judgment or uncertainty? If there were one type of motivation that I would consider “wrong,” it would be to make your future decisions out of fear or insecurities. Nobody wants to fail, but if your fear of failure or disappointing someone else renders you incapable of taking risks, you might not be living your life to it’s fullest potential.

Impact

Do you want to make a difference? Whether you want to feel like your life has meaning and significance or whether you want to be a part of a collective effort to produce a better future, impact can be a strong motivating force.

Although we are all looking for happiness in this lifetime, we all have different beliefs on how to find it. Depending your personality and values, you may disagree or identify with certain career advice. Just remember to take your own motivation into account when you are in the process of making life decisions and stick true to what you believe will be the most fulfilling.

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