A Week in the Life: Skylar Dash, Office of Personal and Professional Development

This blog post was written by Skylar Dash, Systems Manager of the Office of Personal & Professional Development on our Santa Fe campus, to give you a picture of a week in his life and work here at St. John’s. Skylar started it on Thursday, because he is not afraid to break with convention and innovate in the workplace.

Thursday

Good morning! The first thing I did was meet with a junior who’s applying to the Ariel program for Internship funding to volunteer at a school in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. We reviewed his statement of purpose and discussed his long-term goal of becoming a teacher. His application materials were already strong, but I enjoyed learning more about his career ambitions and his desire to contribute to his community.

I then met with a managing director from Deloitte who was visiting campus to run a case competition and discuss careers in consulting with students. It turned out we had both attended The University of Texas at Austin for graduate school, and he commented on many campus improvements that had taken place since he was a student.

We then went over to Peterson Student Center and he presented the business case to the competition participants. We had five teams competing, and each team had 24 hours to research and prepare a presentation addressing the marketing problem presented.

After the case presentation I met with a student to discuss law school. Because this was the first time I was meeting with this student to discuss law school, I made sure the student understood the realities of law school and the legal market. There are some good reasons to attend law school, but for many people it is not the best option. I am the main point of contact for law school applications because I came to St. John’s for the Master of Arts in Eastern Classics after graduating from The University of Texas School of Law.

I finished my day by attending the Deloitte visitor’s presentation on the case interviewing method used as part of the application process for all the major consulting firms.

Friday

I started Friday by creating a more detailed scoring rubric for the case competition. After it was revealed that I would be one of the judges for the case competition, enough competitors made personal appeals reminding me of our “friendship” that I felt it was necessary to create a more objective scoring rubric based on observable criteria and checkboxes.

The competition was tight and the margin between the teams was thin. One team won, but only a few points separated them from the last team. Nevertheless, all three judges scored the same team highest and agreed that this team had done the best job of addressing the client’s concerns.

After the conclusion of the competition, I went over an optional statement for a law school application with a senior. I have been supporting this senior in the law school application process since spring of last year. Any serious graduate school application process requires a great deal of time and energy. In addition to statements of purpose, there were idiosyncratic statements—both optional and required—for many of the law schools the student was considering attending.

 Monday

On Monday morning we had our regular staff meeting to coordinate for the week. After the staff meeting I blitzed through my follow up tasks such as setting up announcements, reserving rooms, etc.

I spent the afternoon reviewing drafts of additional application statements with my dedicated law school applicant. She is a very thorough individual and reviewed multiple drafts of many application components with me.

Tuesday

On Tuesday morning I had another meeting to outline the pros and cons of attending law school for another student. It is frequently the case that another type of graduate program is better suited to the student’s professional ambitions, but in this case the student realized a dual JD/PhD was much more in line with his ambitions than a JD or PhD alone. Because of the type of PhD program he is interested in, this helped him narrow down the range of schools he was considering.

I then welcomed an off-campus recruiter from a classical high school in Colorado to our campus and helped him get set up for his interviews. After that I set up our office’s supplies for an Effective Interviewing workshop in Peterson Student Center.

In the afternoon, I coordinated with a staff member in Alumni relations regarding incentives for completing a survey and fine-tuned the survey questions.

Wednesday

Today I had appointments with two separate law school applicants who are at the beginning of the application process. We had established in prior meetings that they knew what they would be getting themselves into and that law school still seemed like the best option for getting where they wanted to go professionally. They are each determining their target schools, but their targets are very different. One is very focused on environmental issues and plans to practice. The other is interested in political philosophy and an academic career, but wants something more connected to the practical world than a philosophy PhD.

For each appointment like this, I spend more time preparing for the meeting and following up than on the meeting itself. While it is most beneficial to students to teach them to do their own research, different resources are relevant for different students, so identifying the categories of information that are relevant to a student’s particular situation and communicating why those categories are important still takes a good amount of time.

Skylar Dash

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