Practicing Self-Care at Work

by Tiffany Waddell Tate

If you’re like me, you may often wonder: are we living the values we encourage our students and colleagues to live?  When we are in career coaching sessions, workshops, and meetings charging others to show up with intention, work hard, and also integrate strategies into daily practice to promote wellness… are we living examples of what that looks like?  Part of my role in the career center includes managing an awesome group of student staff who assist with the front-of-house office operations and client engagement strategy.  For some, this is their first job, and they are constantly juggling academic and co-curricular expectations alongside it.  It’s important to me that they each show up with intention each day—but also have a safe space to explore what it means to develop professional competencies and balance multiple expectations even when their days are full, knowing that it will not always work out perfectly, but the goal is to learn and grow along the way.

When one of them asked me recently if I ever “unplug,” I was taken aback by the question.  As a recovering “workaholic” or someone who takes a great deal of ownership and responsibility in seeing projects through (whether for pay, volunteer, or fun!) while being a quality teammate—the concept of self-care seemed a selfish one earlier in my career.  Over time, I learned that not actively addressing it could impact professional outcomes and have negative health implications as well.  Particularly in a profession where interpersonal engagement is a large part of the work, taking care of self ensures your ability to adequately and healthily support others.  As a relatively new mom, I have also been forced to recalibrate how I use literally every hour of the day to ensure that I am fully engaged both professionally and personally.  I have thought a lot about what balance could or should look like in the next phase of my career as I continue to take on more leadership. It’s imperative to take time to consider these things, or burnout is inevitable. For many, that may be easier said that done if you have always been successful juggling many different priorities without a tiny human, partner, or aging parent depending on you at the same time.  As I seek to continue to lead and inspire, how I show up and live my values is critical to how I create space for others to do the same.

Practicing self-care at work is crucial to maximizing productivity, focus, and promoting a culture of overall wellness. Here are a few strategies that I employ in my day to day to actively practice self-care at work:

Water, Water, Everywhere.  I love water. I have found, though, that if i’m not careful—I could go hours or even a whole day without drinking enough of it! When my calendar is stacked with back-to-back meetings and no built-in breaks, I have even been known to forget to eat. Terrible, right? One trick I’ve found is to find a large water bottle or cup (24-36 oz.) and fill it up at the beginning of the day. That way, even if I have limited transition time between coaching sessions or other meetings, my water is handy to sip throughout the day and i’m less likely to dehydrate. I especially love bottles with visible measurements so I can track my overall intake, too.

Take a Lap. What professional hasn’t seen articles on how awful sitting down for hours is for your body? A quick Internet search can provide you with a wealth of knowledge on the health implications of not getting enough movement throughout the day. I have some colleagues who take advantage of walking meetings (meetings on foot while walking around campus), but I have been known to take a quick lap around the main floor of the student union where I work in between meetings as time permits.  It provides a quick energy boost, a change of scenery, and a chance to see more friendly faces that I could go days or even weeks without seeing!

Peaceful Tunes. Prior to sharing an office space with another colleague, I regularly used an Internet radio platform like Pandora or Spotify to play “focus music.” Upbeat, but generally instrumental playlists were great for certain projects or work tasks when I wanted to focus in but still have ambient noise.  Now I pop out into flexible spaces if I need to focus in on a project or e-mail management with music sans headphones, and typically have a white noise machine blowing at all times to eliminate background noise or interruptions.

Phone a Friend. Lunch time is a great time to connect with friends or mentors you don’t have a chance to talk with during peak times in your life when time is simply limited. Scheduling phone or Skype time during lunch break is one way I try to be intentional about staying connected to those close to me, but also hold myself accountable for actually taking a lunch break away from my desk or work. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s always something to look forward to when planned ahead of time.

One and Done. Prioritizing tasks is vital when you want to accomplish a lot with limited time.  Typically, I am very good at this—especially when I have the opportunity to manage my workflow and time as needed. I am also aware that if i’m not careful, e-mail management could quickly become an all day thing!  Rather than multitasking on 500 different individual things, I create action lists and prioritize by what’s most important that day, week, or month.  If a project or meeting requires full attention, I have learned to shut my e-mail down until I’m done working so that I’m not tempted by new message notifications! I find that this increases efficiency and presence in the moment with individuals and projects at hand.

I would love to know what you do to actively practice self-care!  Please share in the comments below.

Tiffany Waddell TateTiffany Waddell Tate, Associate Director for Career Development, Davidson College
Personal blog:
http://www.tiffanywaddell.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tiffanywaddelltate Twitter: @tiffanyiwaddell

A Week in the Life of a Career Services Leader

board-christiangarcia

Christian Garcia, Associate Dean and Executive Director, Toppel Career Center, University of Miami LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christiangarcia     Twitter: @christiangarcia

“What the heck do you do all week?” Yeah, I’ve been asked that question here and there (insert eye roll emoji), so here are some highlights from a recent week on the grind. I didn’t include everything because a guy’s gotta have some mystery, right? Oh, and head on over to HireACane.com to learn more about the programs and initiatives I reference below.

MONDAY

8:00 a.m. Doctor’s appointment to get test results from annual physical (aside from a Vitamin D deficiency, all is good).

8:45 a.m. Quick stop at Starbucks on the way into the office: Trenta Iced Coffee with cream and six Equals, oatmeal with nuts and brown sugar. Repeat Tues. – Fri.

9:00 a.m. Toppel huddle, which happens every Monday, is a quick lightning round where each staff member shares what is on their plate for the week. The huddle occurs in the career center lobby (regardless of visitors present) and lasts no longer than 10 minutes. 

10:00 a.m. Strategic planning meeting with my leadership team to discuss where we are currently and next steps. For the past year, the entire Toppel staff has been immersed in the strategic planning process, which kicked off with a visit from career center innovators: Amjad Ayoubi (Tulane), Christine Cruzvergara (Wellesley/previously George Mason), and Joe Testani (U. of Rochester). During Meeting of the Minds, which we dubbed a “modern day external review,” each team within the center presented a pitch of their vision for Toppel in 2025. A number of brilliant ideas were presented and have been molded and shaped since last March, culminating in the soon-to-be-unveiled Toppel 2025: Career Services is Everybody’s Business. That’s all I can share at this point…stay tuned!

Afternoon set aside for planning a presentation to the Parents Council later in the week. The Parents Council, a group of about 80 influential parents, meets a few times a year and I have been invited to share with them my vision for the future of career services. Little do they know that they’re getting one of the first glimpses into Toppel 2025…

TUESDAY

9:00 a.m. Strengthening teams meeting. For the sake of brevity, check out my previous post All Play and No Work?

11:30 a.m. Lunch planning meeting for the 2nd Annual Lavender Celebration. Toppel was a proud sponsor of the inaugural graduation celebration for LGBTQ graduates last year and will continue to support this important event for years to come.

2:00 p.m. One-on-one with my boss, Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education. Discuss recent accomplishments, update on strategic plan, brainstorm topics for his speech to a group of 21 career center directors visiting U.M. next month, and I’m quickly outta there.

3:00 p.m. One-on-one with my Associate Director of Assessment and Communication. This meeting basically consisted of me gushing over all the extraordinary work he and his student intern team have been producing!

WEDNESDAY

11:00 a.m. Skype call with one of my NACE mentees. Jeffrey (College of Brockport-SUNY) knows about my undying love for Madonna and today, he created an agenda that used a different Madonna song for each agenda item. #hegetsme. This year, I hit the jackpot with not just one, but TWO, pretty amazing mentees who I know will be future leaders of our profession! The other one is Ryan from Muhlenberg College. I’m planning a future post all about our experiences in the NACE Mentor Program which is going to be cool!

1:00 p.m. One-on-one with my Associate Director for Career Readiness, who is one of the most genuine and positive individuals I have ever met. And by the way, she’s been talking about career readiness before career readiness was a thing!

2:00 p.m. Run all over the building to make sure it’s clean and tidy. See next entry.

2:15 p.m. Visit from Patricia Toppel. Yes, our namesake dropped by with her son and two granddaughters who wanted a tour of our beautiful building, which would not have been possible without the generosity of the Toppel family. Mrs. Toppel is a class act and I always love when I have the opportunity to see her.

6:00 p.m. Happy hour with our Associate Director, Employer Development, Washington, D.C. Hilary lives and works for us in D.C., but spends two weeks in Miami each semester. As always, the staff gathers for a happy hour in her honor before she leaves. Miss her already!

THURSDAY

9:00 a.m. One-on-one with my Director of Career Education, who is doing a phenomenal job managing his area and empowering his team of career advisers. He led our recent transition to Chaos Theory as our department’s theoretical framework and it’s already transforming the work!

11:00 a.m. Meeting with Gapingvoid, the organization responsible for the amazing artwork at Toppel. Discussed ways to continue our partnership and some exciting upcoming collaborations. Check out our building and artwork here and an article and video about how art has transformed culture at our center here.

3:30 p.m. Retirement party for one of U.M.’s most iconic and longstanding faculty members and administrator (more than 40 years of service).

FRIDAY

9:00 a.m. One-on-one with our Assistant Director of Graduate Student and Alumni Career Programs. We discussed a program she co-leads, Professional Development Academy, which is for juniors and students, and uses NACE’s Career Readiness competencies as its guiding framework. It’s an excellent initiative!

12:00 p.m. Phew…my presentation to the Parents Council was a big hit! They loved the five pillars that encompass the vision for our future of career services at U.M. I also garnered a lot of interest in launching Career Crawls across the country and our first international Crawl to London. Cheerio!

2:00 p.m. Meeting to discuss progress on pilot program to integrate academic and career advising. This has been and will continue to be lots of work but we will get there!

3:00 p.m. Meeting with a vendor regarding a potential partnership on a pretty cool and innovative assessment tool app. That’s all I can say right now…!

4:00 p.m. Video shoot to welcome parents and family to the Toppel Insider: Family Edition e-newsletter. After over 20 takes, I finally nailed it but we have decided to include some bloopers in the final video. Should be interesting!

7:00 p.m. A nice bottle of red wine (Cabernet) is removed from my wine fridge and cracked open to enjoy and ease into the weekend! That’s it. You’re not following me into the weekend!

 

 

NACE Mentor Program Brings Passion to the Profession

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc. and Vice-President – Employer on the NACE Board of Directors
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

The concept of mentoring has been on my mind a lot lately. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself reaching out to several of my own personal mentors. These mentors come from many walks of life. One is an old fraternity brother from my college days who always encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. Another is a former line manager from one of my first recruiting jobs who inspired me to become more creative. And then there are my unofficial NACE mentors who encouraged me for years to get more involved in this organization (admittedly, it took me a few years to follow their advice). Once I began to get more involved, they made themselves available for advice and encouragement whenever I’ve needed it. Truth be told, I know that I wouldn’t be holding my current NACE position were it not for their encouragement. These are relationships that I treasure.

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to be a mentor to a number of NACE members. My first interactions as a NACE mentor came about during my first year as a member of the NACE Board of Directors through the NACE Leadership Advancement Program (LAP). Participants in this year-long program are assigned a mentor who is either a current or former member of the Board of Directors.

In a few instances, I had previous dealings with my assigned mentees, while in others, we  formed a relationship from scratch. As a mentor, I was there to provide my mentees with different viewpoints on leadership, opinions about their work challenges, or advice for getting more involved with NACE. I’m especially pleased that many of these mentor/mentee relationships have continued to grow well after the completion of the LAP program, and I know that many of my fellow Board members have had similar experiences.

My most recent mentor/mentee engagements have occurred through the NACE mentor program. There are about 40 NACE members who volunteer to work with members seeking a professional mentor. I only recently volunteered to serve as a mentor for this program and was shocked at how quickly NACE assigned me new mentees.

Within only two weeks of signing up to mentor up to three members, I found myself with a full dance card. I’ve reached out to all three of these individuals (none of which I knew beforehand) in the last few weeks and I’ve been really impressed by the passion that they bring to our profession. These mentees have varied functions (some in university relations, some in career services) and different levels of experience (some are brand new to our industry, others more established). That said, there are several universal themes in their day-to-day challenges that we can all relate to, from feeling under-resourced to seeking stakeholder approval to optimizing business processes, just to name a few.

So by now you might be asking, “What’s in it for the mentor?” To that, I would answer “plenty.” I get inspired at the passion that so many of our newer members display for both NACE and our profession. I get excited talking to people who might be assuming leadership positions within our organization in a few years. And sometimes, I find it therapeutic having offline conversations with people who understand both the joys and frustrations of what we do.

To my fellow members: we need more mentors—we have more mentees than mentors! Please consider volunteering as a NACE mentor. You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s how to get involved: Go to MyNACE and apply through your Account Profile by completing the Mentor/Mentee Information section. Choose to be a mentor or mentee and indicate the type association you prefer and your interests. Matches are made on a bi-monthly basis.