Friday, May 22, 2009

What Do I Have to Offer?

I had a job interview yesterday at UT for a student assistant position. The lady I interviewed with told me my resume looked "impressive" and that she was afraid the position wouldn't challenge me that much. After the interview, I wrote her a thank you email. In the email, I told her that even though I did not fit the typical profile of a student assistant (young, 20-something), I have the experience and professionalism they are looking for.

Many nontrads walk onto a college campus and think things like, "What do I have to offer? Will I fit in? Will I be able to make friends?"

"What do I have to offer?" As a nontrad, we have plenty to offer. The main thing nontrads have to offer is experience. We have been out there in the "real world", whether we have been working, raising children, been in the military, etc. We know what it's like to have to budget our money, deal with difficult bosses, be awake all night with a sick child and still have to go to work the next day, etc.

I had a friend who died a year ago this past Easter. He was taking 21 hours. He was 52. He would tell me about the three papers he had to write that were all due by the end of the week, the four chapters he had to read for each class for the exams that he had the next week, the two group projects he was in the middle of and so on. As a retired soldier, his schoolwork was a breeze! And he even had time to bake cookies and brownies for classmates and family members! His military experience gave him the discipline to be a successful student.

What do you have experience in? My experience is in raising children and working in an office. I have to be organized and know how to communicate for both those tasks. That's what I have to offer.

"Will I fit in?" There are times in my college classes when I feel like a giraffe among warthogs - I stick out like a sore thumb. But that's okay because I am discovering that there are more and more nontrads in my classes. Sometimes, the teacher even calls on me because he or she knows I have more life experience than my classmates.

"Will I make friends?" Yes. I have one friend for whom I took notes this past semester because he has MS. I met him in class and we got to know each other over the semester. He helped me navigate the murky waters of Economics. The college campus is a kaleidoscope of humanity - ethnicities, beliefs, nationalities, majors. Take advantage of the cross section of cross-culturalism and make friends!

As a nontrad, what do you have to offer? Plenty!! Stay tuned . . .

1 comment:

E. Sheppard said...

I really liked this post. What do I have to offer... this is really good food for thought. And I'm glad you have made friends, too. I know this is a concern for some nontraditional students. I really enjoyed reading this.