By: Leslie Silva, M.A., NCC, Temple University
About three years ago, I began working in Career Services in Higher Education through my graduate program in professional counseling. While my program was focused on mental health counseling, I found my niche in career counseling. Helping students as they navigate one of the most challenging periods developmentally brings me a lot of joy. Using a strengths-based approach, I truly love collaborating with my students and watching their growth as they achieve their goals. After a year and a half as Graduate Career Coaching intern at Temple University’s Career Center I was ready for my new role as Career Counselor at the College of Engineering. Same University, very specific population.
As I began my new role the ever dreaded “Imposter Syndrome” followed me from intern to professional. I had the passion, education, and training to excel as a career counselor, but the imposter syndrome followed me in my counseling appointments, workshops and networking opportunities. About a year into my role, a colleague from Temple’s Career Center reached out to me about the EACE Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship and encouraged me to apply.
Throughout my time as a graduate student I had wanted to attend professional conferences. One topic that came up repeatedly in my studies was the idea of job burnout, and how professional conferences could help mitigate that. But they always seemed so unattainable to me, largely for financial reasons. Applying for this scholarship thus seemed like a no-brainer, as it would allow for the following:
- An opportunity to network with other professionals in my field
- An opportunity to generate new ideas to better serve my students
Now that the conference has passed and I have had some time to reflect on my experience, I can say that the 2019 EACE conference exceeded all my expectations. As I rode the train to Hartford, Connecticut that imposter syndrome was ever present. But as the conference began and kicked off with the Welcome Lunch, those fears began to dissipate. With each conversation I engaged in, I felt a part of something bigger than myself and my individual role as a career counselor. I was surrounded by professionals in my field who like me were striving to improve student outcomes and experiences.
During the conference, I attended as many sessions as possible. For a newcomer like me, the EACE conference app was incredibly useful. After the Welcome Lunch I dove right into sessions. Lighting up Introverts on the Job Search really set the tone for me for the rest of the conference. I left the session armed with new ideas and renewed energy for the work I am doing with students.
It didn’t stop there- Women and the Gender Pay Gap, Why Can’t We Be Friends: Strengthening Faculty Partnerships, Team Access and Team Success: Supporting First Generation Students, Empowering International Students Toward Career Success: Strategies for Addressing the Specific Needs of This Unique Population- all provided me with invaluable ideas and resources to better serve my students. At the end of the day, that is always the goal.
The conference organizers did a great job at balancing intentional learning and social activities which also foster learning. There were so many small tidbits I picked up from my casual conversations at the welcome lunch, newcomers’ breakfast and entertainment night. I was also able to develop relationships with some of my own colleagues at Temple University that will only serve to help our students succeed. I look forward to my next EACE conference, and I can’t wait to see what the organizers will be planning for us. As I left the conference a few weeks ago two things became clear to me. I am better equipped to prepare my students for their professional journey’s, and I am more of a career counselor than I am an imposter.