Hit or Miss

The 2003-2004 academic year may seem like a long way’s off, but it’s time for me to start my search for a new college Hall Director job in earnest.

[warning: way over-indulgent post to follow]

When I searched for my current job three years ago, fresh out of grad school, I was less than secure about my abilities and took the first job that was offered to me. But I’m a lot more confident of my position in the job market now. I don’t want to brag, but three years of experience, a masters degree, and my level of computer skills should be enough to secure me a job wherever I’d like to move. And therein lies the rub: where do I want to live?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s much that I enjoy about the sleepy rural town I work in: no traffic, friendly people, a nice summer community theatre… Sure there’s no shopping mall, but I can order most anything I want to buy over the internet, right?

However, I’ve missed the culture and excitement that a larger college town (like Bloomington, where I went to grad school) can offer. And I haven’t had a peer group of single gay men to share common interests with or date. I didn’t realize what I’d be missing when I left IU, and most of all I realize I wasted my time not being more serious about the guy I was dating.

So part of me feels like I’ve wasted the last 3 years of my life here in smalltown America. I gained a lot of invaluable job experience, but my personal life has been completely stagnant, if not regressive. Connecting with another person emotionally and intimately now frankly scares me, and it’s been far too easy to hide out here in Kirksville.

So now I’m at a crossroads. I can almost literally find a job in city I want to. The easy thing to do would be to stay here in the Midwest. But even if it was a larger town, I don’t know that it would be easy to break out of my self-imposed rut of emotional celibacy. So where to focus my job search then?

I’ve been an avid reader of the New Yorker for years. I’m amazed week after week by the sheer amount of happenings around the city. A single day holds more entertainment and culture events than I’ve had access to in the past three years. I have a friend from grad school out there who’s invited me to visit, but I’m far too intimidated. So why do I have this crazy notion that I should try to find a job there?

Everyone has their comfort zones. Sometimes it seems like my entire job as a Hall Director consists of nothing but trying to challenge my students to confront and expand their own comfort zones. So why haven’t I practiced what I preach?

I have absolutely nothing tying me down to any region of the country. I already live outside of driving distance from my family. Getting a job as a hall director means I don’t have to worry anything about finding an apartment, setting up utilities, etc. All I have to do is simply apply and interview for jobs. Then you just have to show up and everything’s pretty much taken care of for you. There’s no reason I couldn’t move to New York, (or Boston or San Fransisco or Minneapolis…)

But I’m intimidated by the idea of living in a metropolitan setting. There’s just SO many people. Everywhere. Meaning, I’d be forced to confront my fears of connecting with people (which is pretty humorous, when I think about the emotional isolation that people can still experience even in a place like New York — scroll down for the Sondheim lyrics…)

One might suggest that I simply get a job at a nice small college in the suburb of a major city. But it would be all too tempting for me to retreat into the bubble of that academic community and not take advantage of my proximity to the city. To make a long story short, I guess what I’m really looking for is a way to break out of the mindset I have working on a college campus: I’m no longer a student. I’m an adult and it’s important for me to find a way to relate to the larger adult world. Being a hall director can be a very time-consuming job, but no one can keep from getting burnt out in this line of work unless they have their own personal life outside of the dorms. And do I want to have that personal life be in the middle of a corn field spending yet another Friday night at Super Walmart shopping for a new toothbrush? Or do I want to stroll down to the corner coffee shop and get a mocha latte before going on a date to the opening of a new show on Broadway?

Maybe I’m romanticizing “the city” too much. I just don’t know how to to find a comfortable halfway point. But I feel like I’ll never change unless I completely turn my world upside down. Maybe that’s a foolish and/or selfish way to conduct my job search, but maybe I need to be completely foolish and/or selfish right now.

Anyway, I’m at a crossroads. I never really made a choice about going to undergrad at DePauw — a friend’s alumni parents suggested it and told me they’d help me get a scholarship. I went to grad school at IU because my librarian mentor went there and helped me get an GA position. I interview with Truman State because my old boss used to be director of Res Life here and plugged me to the guy who hired me. I used to think that these were all divine signs pointing me in the direction of where my life should go, but now I realize I was simply taking the easy way out.

Now I’m looking for advice. Not simply for someone to tell me where to go and what to do, but to gain some options to choose from. I’m all ears.

4 responses so far (Respond)

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My suggestion: Boston. It’s got all that NYC offers, plus neighborhoods… not to mention 250 or so institutions of higher learning.

vis10n | 10 Oct 2002
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how about Seattle? I think it’s great here.

I hadn’t realized that Hall Director was a job people stayed in for very long.

Anita Rowland | 11 Oct 2002
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Not that many people stay in the Residence Life field, which makes me all-the-more likely to stick with it to ensure my own job security because universities like to hire people with experience. And could there be any easier way to move to a big city like New York besides landing a hall director job which would provide me with a rent-free, furnished apartment?

Matt | 12 Oct 2002
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Washington University would be a great place to work. I plan on applying there via Oshkosh, if I am able to do so. It’s near St. Louis’ cultural heart — the University City Loop, and it’s also very close to downtown and Forest Park. You could also utilize your connections at SLU. Webster University is also really nice. Then again, if you want to get out of the midwest, why not look really far away — like Hawaii? Culture, night life, sun, sand, and lots of Hawaiian shirts. I really think you’d like it.

Bob | 21 Oct 2002