I’ve Been Busy Working

No, seriously. You might have thought I disappeared from the blog world because I became a jobless recluse, hiding in my apartment and wasting away my days watching Glee marathons, but the exact opposite is true. Well, part of that is true. I have been watching a lot of Glee, but I am so excited to report that between Glee episodes I found a job and I have literally been busy working!

A lot has happened in the past year and there is so much to blog about in my happy life besides our wonderful Breckenridge wedding 11 months ago and our exciting move to Denver Colorado seven months ago. Not only did I find a new job in Denver exactly four months ago, but a month prior to that, hubby and I decided to buy a new home in Denver. And by new, I mean, brand-spankin’ new! I’m so anxious to blog about all of this, but first things first! My new job!

I am a Development Assistant at the University of Colorado Denver…. and I love it! Here is one reason why.

It doesn’t get any better than this westward view of the snow-capped mountains in Colorado.

Every day is another interesting view out my window from clear skies to developing storms in the mountains that head our way!

Every day is another interesting view out my window from clear skies to developing storms in the mountains that head our way!

Isn’t that view incredible?! I work in downtown Denver on the 13th floor of a building and get to see the mountains of Colorado every day!

The building I work in on the edge of downtown Denver.

The building I work in on the edge of downtown Denver.

So what is a Development Assistant? That’s a good question, because even I had no idea what it was initially. Development is basically a fancy word for fundraising. I don’t do the actual fundraising in the office; that’s the role of the Development Officers, who I assist. My job is to support the Development Officers, which is a great gig for me because it’s an entry level office job doing something other than manning a front desk and answering phones, like what I did at my last job.

For some people I know it’s hard to imagine getting excited over an entry level office job, but for me, it’s the next best thing to having a dream job. As many of my friends already know, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2006.

Not knowing what on earth I would do with a degree in Kinesiology — since I knew I didn’t want be a personal trainer — I decided to continue on in graduate school and study Exercise Physiology. I loved exercise and I loved studying about how exercise affects the body, so why not just keep learning more and figure out the job situation later!

It wasn’t until I got out in the real world to find a job — during the economy crash in 2008, mind you — that I realized I was never going to figure out what I could do with a degree in kinesiology or exercise physiology! Going to school only allowed me to put off getting a meaningless real world job.

The one great thing that graduate school taught me though was a great work ethic and amazing multi-tasking skills, which I used to land myself a not-so-glamorous receptionist job.

From then on, I realized that a dream job would probably never exist for me.

Over the years since graduation and after having worked a crummy, dead-end receptionist job for four years, I have had to redefine what a dream job is for me. In this reassessment I realized that a dream job is not necessarily using the degree that I paid lots of money for and it’s not even necessarily doing what I love. For me, a dream job was to work with happy people and to be in a happy, challenging work environment.

When hubby and I decided to move to Denver, one of the biggest reasons driving our decision to move was the need to change our jobs…. completely. No, not a complete career change though! We could have changed jobs in Albuquerque, but we would still not have achieved the entirely new & happy work lives we were trying to acquire. We needed the whole package. New city. New job. New co-workers. New outlook on life.

I really only had two simple criteria I wanted to meet for my new job. I wanted to work in a university environment again — like my old days working as a teaching and research assistant in graduate school — and I wanted to work in downtown Denver near hubby and in heart of the city where so much was going on. I figured both of these requirements would get me the new dream job I had redefined.

Truth be told, before we even moved to Denver, our wedding planner had practically begged for me to move to Denver so I could work with her. At first, I thought she had told all of her brides this to flatter them, but then I came to realize that she probably wasn’t kidding.

I had seriously considered a complete change in jobs. I could finally do a job I wanted to do. And I mean, who was I kidding, this was my dream job!!! To do what I loved to do – be crafty and create beautiful weddings.

But after our move to Denver, I decided that even though this could have been a dream job doing what I loved, I wouldn’t always love the greedy wedding industry work environment or the bridezillas people that I worked with. And I wouldn’t love the crazy schedule that would come with being a wedding planner assistant. So I decided I would stay in the office job world unless the Universe told me otherwise.

….and it didn’t! The perfect office job popped up!

Applying for the Development Assistant position and going for in for the interviews was very nerve-wrecking. It seemed like the dream job I was looking for (the redefined dream job, that is) – it was at a university,  it was downtown, it had great benefits, and the work itself (fundraising) seemed rewarding. I wanted the job so badly, but, for once in my life, I felt like I didn’t know how to pull something off flawlessly to get what I wanted.

Thankfully, I had advice and support coming from so many different directions to help me through this new stage in my life to get what I wanted. I had my two best friends giving me great interview advice, along with my hubby’s cousin helping me network and giving me insider advice on the position (since she had previously worked there). On top of that, I did countless hours of research on the internet so I could be fully prepared for the interviews to land the job.

For many of the other jobs I had applied to in Denver before this one, I had put an average amount of effort into tailoring my resume and cover letter. Each job I applied to was a work in progress. But for the Development Assistant position, I needed to up my game! I had one chance to make a good impression to get my foot in the door and I couldn’t ruin it.

I prioritized the task of creating a unique and sincere cover letter that wouldn’t sound so cliche and boring, and would help me stand out in a good way, while still looking professional. With lots of editing and peer reviews, I crafted a kick ass cover letter and was called back for an interview!

Yep, that’s my handwriting! I normally don’t like to brag about it, but in this case, I had to use everything in my arsenal to get this job!

For my first interview, I followed all the tips suggested by my crew and the interwebs. First up was getting a new suit. It’s odd that you need money to make money, but when they say you should dress for the job you want and not the job you have, they are not kidding. I wasn’t going to mess up this simple instruction… no matter how odd I felt in a suit or how much that price tag on the suit crushed my soul!

My outfit for the first interview. I looked pretty great until I stepped out the door and got blown away by the ridiculous wind.

I also did a million Google searches for specific interview questions that I might be asked and made sure to prepare answers and all kinds of examples of tasks and responsibilities from my previous job.

Since I didn’t know much about the type of work I was applying for with the university’s Development Office, I made sure to also do as much research as I could to find out what Development was, along with recent news about the department and university. I wanted to ensure the interviewers that even though I didn’t graduate or attend the university, I still took a sincere interest in it.

And lastly, I made sure to prepare questions for the interviewers as well. Most of these questions were clarifying what I would be doing and asking a little more about how they truly felt about their jobs with the university.

The first interview was more nerve-wrecking than I expected since I was required to give more examples of past work situations and responsibilities than I could think of. I met with the three development officers I would be assisting and they spared no mercy in drilling me to make sure they were choosing an assistant that would know how to assist them well.

I was so nervous afterward that I had squandered my chance to work in a great position and office. The people I had met so far seemed great to work with and the office seemed like such a great work environment, so a lot was on the line! I sent thank you notes immediately after my first interview begging for the job thanking the interviewers for meeting with me.

Thankfully, although I had little confidence in the performance of my interview, my interviewers were impressed by my interview and I was called back to a second interview with the Vice Chancellor of Development.

I had to prepare another interview outfit and more questions and examples. But this time I felt more ready and confident! This job had my name on it!

My second interview ended up going much more smoothly and I was swooning at the thought of working for such a sane, friendly boss!

My second interview outfit was not as snazzy as my first.

That same day as the second interview, I got the call that I got the job! And the rest is history… actually the rest is not history, it’s been a lot of work!

Me at the train station on my way to my first day of work at University of Colorado Denver.

Me at the train station on my way to my first day of work at University of Colorado Denver.

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