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You Asked, I Answered!

Hello Everyone! It’s Q and A time! First, thanks to all of you who sent me questions—I have plenty to talk about! In true blogger/blogger fashion, I’m going to give you my written responses AND you can tune in to the video. Enjoy!

How did you get started with consulting?

Well, the idea was really born out feeling stuck and realizing that no one really controlled my professional fate—that’s why it’s my first video. I’d been working for quite some time, and I was in a space where I wanted to do different things in education, but felt stuck. I had expanding interests, and I wanted to explore those. Unfortunately, as I began looking for work, I found that positions were limited in the expectations, and I wouldn’t see the kind of impact and professional growth I was looking for.

I was in my early 30’s, and I realized that I had a LONG way to go before I hit retirement age, and I was determined to enjoy my professional journey as opposed to let it be dictated by someone else. After my last class dismissed one day, I sat in front of my computer and decided to record a video based on a blog that I’d written and ABANDONED—just like that. That was the beginning.

After that, I decided to use my blog, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to just create a dialogue about education. I essentially created my own path. Initially, it was scary because opening your opinions up to the interwebs makes you vulnerable to public opinion, but I’ve found that it has enabled me to speak more confidently about topics that I’m passionate about and to become more reflective about who I am and what I stand for. More important, these platforms have allowed me to create a portfolio of my work that is now becoming EXTREMELY useful for me professionally.

I found my first client because she initially hired me on to work for her summer program. I couldn’t keep the position because I was hired for a 12-month position at the end of that school year, but I loved her program, loved her mission/vision, and wanted to be a part of it, so I asked her how could I continue working with her. That was how my first client emerged!

With her organization, I’ve been able to really begin crafting what my consulting business looks like and what I can actually offer others. I’ve also been able to hone skills that I have not been given the opportunity to practice in my 7 to 7.

I also opened my mouth about what I wanted to do. I changed my LinkedIn to reflect my new role, I’ve rewritten my job roles to highlight skills that align to being an educational consultant, and I tell people my professional goals. Now, people will reach out to me about potential opportunities or tips to help me build my business.

There are still many things I have left to do, but I have started a slow momentum. My advice to you is to determine what your mission/vision is, create a platform that enables you to talk about your mission/vision and share your expertise, and market yourself as a consultant.

That was a long answer...geez!

The GRE???

Well, I’m going to be super honest—I wanted NO PARTS of the GRE. Because of that, I only applied for programs that didn’t require it, and they actually exist. I did ask a friend who has taken it and he said he just jumped right in after undergrad and took it since the scores last for 10 years. We also talked about the requirements. We determined that taking the GRE depends on the field, depends on the program, and depends on the school to which you are applying. I realized that I have not gotten a degree that was not centered on education, while he has gotten degrees that were not traditionally related.

Based on my conversation with him, I would advise that your take the GRE right out of undergrad. This way, you are still in the mode of study—which does pass as years pass—so that you can take some time to determine which grad program would be best for you, then you can apply for the programs at your leisure without the stress of knowing you also have to take the GRE -OR- you can find a program that doesn’t require it because they definitely exist.

Good luck!

Hi Xica! I have a question about study habits and time management . I will be starting an online graduate program in September...yay me! But my concern is about how to organize my time. I have a full time job, two kids, and can't pull the late nights/ all nighters like I once did in undergrad.What are some things I can do to use my evening hours (weekdays) wisely? What would you suggest as a good study routine? My weekends are free, but I need to help with keeping up with things during the week. Thank you!

Okay—managing time once you are fully adulting and in grad school is a challenge—not can be a challenge. Recently, I posted a picture of myself on IG getting my nails done and doing homework on my iPad—and that is the life I live!

So here are some tips to help me manage.

  1. Take advantage of EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. The fact is, grad school and adulting is busy, uncomfortable, and stressful. The beauty of it is you know that there is an end in sight! Your free time is no longer your free time. I work during all spare moments. I work during prep periods, I work in car during road trips/commutes, I work when I get my nails done—you have to make every minute count.

  2. Utilize your tech resources. I always have my iPhone, my iPad, and/or my computer. I upgraded to an iPad Pro and have a keyboard. This enables me to be able to work ANYWHERE. I am a collector of books, BUT I have started downloading books to my Kindle app so that I can READ any and everywhere. The cloud is also my friend. I use Chrome and Google drive for everything now so that I always have access to my work.

  3. Preemptively strike. When classes begin, make a note of pouring over your syllabus and creating a plan for how and when assignments need to be completed as well as readings, and stick to that plan and sync this to your time availability.

I hope this helps and good luck!

How do I transition out of teaching?

I began being vocal about what I wanted to do professionally. I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t making the movement that I really wanted to make. Some of it comes with how we perceive ourselves and the profession.

#1: I had to let go of fear of what came with being vocal. I had to not be afraid of being fired or let go because of my goals.

#2: I had to realize that I had a skill set that was marketable that wasn’t just being an English teacher. I began looking at job descriptions and thinking about whether or not I actually had those skills. When I found that I did, I highlighted them.

#3: I had to be vocal about what I wanted. I remember my old boss called me into his office and he said he’d caught wind that I was looking for a new position. I was honest and told him that I didn’t want to die at my desk teaching HS English—that wasn’t my professional path for myself. And that statement led to a conversation about how to build capacity in me so that I could be a more involved teacher leader and that is how my shift began.

#4: I also began looking for fellowships and programs that help me build my network and expand my skill set, which has led to my current position. Doing these things helped liberate me and made me more proactive and solutions-oriented.

Good luck to you!

How do you balance a work life 9 to 5 with running a business and keeping your personal life?

I consulted a friend who is also super busy—doing all of those things too—and we determined that it is a blending act—not balancing act. It’s a matter of blending work and social together. My friend is doing a triathlon—I am not—but we are bike riding together to hang, help her train a bit, and help me decompress. I have had work dates with people. We both meet up for coffee and also get work done. The beginning of the meet is chatting, then we begin work either taking chat breaks or bouncing ideas off of each other.

There was also the realization that we are ALWAYS doing something. There is no such thing as actual downtime. I’ve realized that I am generally doing something. If I am watching tv, I am also making ads that I can post on my social media accounts. If I have break during the work day, I may do some homework or make a business call.

It really is about taking advantage of every minute and blending all aspects of your life so that you are living life to the fullest!

Now go out there and be social!

May you talk about how a graduate student can get the best out of an internship or field placement while at the same time not neglecting classes and assignments? That balance can be difficult. Thank you!

  1. Make sure you have your end goal in mind at ALL TIMES. You are in your program and completing your internship for a reason. The purpose of the two is not to meet other people’s goals, but to make sure you are meeting your own. As you complete your internship, make it clear what you want to get out of it so that your coordinator and advisor can better support you. If you find that you aren’t getting the support, be sure to address that concern—remember, these experiences are only as good as you want them to be. If you don’t know what your goal is, you are going to get whatever someone else wants you to get out of it.

  2. As far as school and your internship, try to make the two relate as much as possible. For example, when I’m working and in school, I try my best to relate. my readings and assignments to work. If I have to do a study or a research assignment, I link it to my professional work.

  3. As I mentioned above, utilize your resources so that you can maximize your time as every minute can be used productively!

Good luck to you!

Again, thanks everyone for sending in your questions, I hope you found my responses helpful or they helped you view things a bit differently. I'll be sure to catch up with you next week!

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