The One Thing You Haven’t Prepared Your College Student For

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression in college-aged students.  All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Thrill of the Chases. 

Getting ready for college has been a major topic of conversation in our house for a while now. Our teens still have a couple of years before they officially leave the nest, but because they are already attending an early college high school we talk about this almost daily. This means an even greater focus is already being put on college preparedness. This means homework and test grades stay up:; for college. They are aware that a well-rounded portfolio of volunteerism beyond academics is important: for college. Even our summer vacation schedule is dependent on when an additional summer class or two can be taken: for college. 

As parents, we are doing our best to prepare and guide them while still encouraging them to have as much autonomy over their lives as possible. We’ve had excited conversations about potential college tours. We’ve also had heavier conversations surrounding topics of college parties and campus safety. It wasn’t until Med-IQ approached us with this discussion that we considered how important it was to help them prepare their mental health for the college transition too. 

My partnership with Med-IQ allowed me to sit in on a discussion with doctors (John F. Greden, MD, Founder and Executive Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center & Todd D. Sevig, PhD, Director, Counseling and Psychological Services, University of Michigan) to ask questions and learn why this emphasis on mental health during the transition to college is so important. 

Why is talking about mental health during the college transition so important? 

During the call I learned that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. So many risk factors are at play during this transition time that many could simply be overlooked until they weigh so heavily that you and your student is are left dealing with a crisis you are unprepared for. 

Risk factors include:

  • Loss of previous support system and social network  
  • Academic stress 
  • Increased pressure to succeed 
  • Feelings of isolation 
  • Mental illness, especially anxiety and depression 
  • Lack of adequate coping skills 
  • Conduct issues 
  • Previous suicide attempts 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Interpersonal difficulties 
  • History of abuse or trauma 
  • Impulsivity 
  • Fear of mental health stigma 
  • Insomnia

So, where we do begin? What can parents do?

The doctors advised that parents check in with their own level of stigma and their own history with mental health that may be keeping them from approaching the topic with their children. All students are affected to some degree and it is important to gain understanding and education about the realities of college life today. Use online tools and encourage your students to use them to gain insights and assess their own needs. These online tools can help students learn how to track their own stressors and know when to get help. As they transition to living away from their parents, the doctors discussed how the students are learning who they are and who they want to be, and part of that is learning how to take care of their own health.

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with depression and mental health in your college-aged child, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Take the survey here!

 Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

Without this conversation I would have been left without a starting point to begin a conversation. Looking back on my own experiences, I now recognize some factors in play that I probably should have sought help with when I was their age. At that time neither the adults in my life or I were informed enough to make that decision. I am hoping that because of this information our children will not struggle in the same ways I did. In a future blog post, I will share more about how we are planning to approach the conversation with our students, resources you can use, and what our teens thoughts are after the initial conversations. I hope you’ll participate in this part of the journey with us. I truly believe it will be life changing. 

Disclaimer: Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

An Exciting New Job Announcement

Last week I shared about my journey of looking for something new in the workplace after a decade of working for myself. I am thrilled to share that a wonderful position presented itself and my transition back into a salaried workforce has been a delightful one. This week will complete a full month of downtown office space, commuting, and new colleagues.

Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted a new position at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in May 2019, I joined the marketing department managing social content for the Museum.

I am grateful for the many years I spent blogging, writing, and the immense experience I gained starting and growing businesses along the way. While I will still frequently be sharing stories here, this new position will allow me to focus on social media content and community building for another institution which is truly my area of expertise.

It was always my intention that every step of my journey would lead to the next leap. I feel so fortunate to be where I am, with brilliant minds, people who are passionate about what they do and sharing it all with others.

Admittedly my job was really great before and it was going to take something of extreme interest to compare. New dinosaur discoveries, stunning gems, exploring hominids, and inspiring minds through nature and science is a wonderful way to fill your days. It’s an extremely cool gig if you can get it. I’m really proud to announce that I’ll be there to share the stories of discovery and events happening there online now.

If you’re in Dallas or visiting the area, come see me at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. I’d love to see you and always happy to take a tour with you and point out some of the fascinating things I’ve learned along the way.

Searching For My Dream Job

And Now For Something Completly Different….

For the last decade+, I’ve been working for myself full-time whether consulting, freelancing, or blogging. The flexibility that was required to be an involved parent of four children wasn’t something most careers were offering at that time. So I created my own path with exactly what I was looking for. I’m very proud of the work I’d done to build my brand and community but late last year I could feel something stirring. It was time for a pivot. It was time to forge another new path.

What Was I Searching For…

I began to identify key traits I was looking for in a job. Much the same way my teenage girlfriends and I would make lists of attributes we wanted to find in a guy we would date or a partner to marry one day, I started doing that for the job I would be looking for. It may seem silly but it was an essential step. When you are dedicating so much of your life somewhere you need to make sure it’s a good culture fit, the work is fulfilling and that IT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. We did not come this far to settle.

Finding the Right Fit….

Once I figured out what I was looking for, I began profiling companies that had those attributes and keeping an eye on their position openings through LinkedIn and other job sites. I asked questions of current employees who worked there and considered the longevity of leadership. If there was a continual turnover or if people didn’t seem challenged, empowered or passionate about their careers it was a red flag.

On top of profiling and researching, I also dedicated a good amount of prayer to where I was supposed to be next. This would be a big pivot for me and I wanted to make sure I was getting it right.

One of the things I kept feeling after I’d prayed was that the job that was meant for me didn’t exist yet. What I mean by that is that over the last several years my skills in social media, content creation, influencer marketing, and community building had became niched in a very unique way. I knew there was a place for me but many companies weren’t there just yet or they had positioned those roles as part of other positions entirely. I was either going to have to be patient or make modifications to what I decided to accept.

My People Are the Best People.

I didn’t limit my search to my local area. In fact, after talking with Randall we decide this was important enough that we would expand the search nationwide and figure out the logistics if the right opportunity came up no matter where it was. We talked to the children about how they would feel if a move presented itself and after giving some thought to what moving during jr high and high school might mean, they were supportive as well. It was truly amazing to have so much family support to pursue my dreams even if it required sacrifices of them. My people are the best people.

“Almost Good Enough” is Such a Kick to the Ego….

I’d be doing this story a disservice to pretend I got the first or second job I applied for. I didn’t apply for many positions because I already knew what I was looking for was very specific. The ones I did submit and interview for went on for weeks and all got to the final candidate stage. Even when I wasn’t selected, I made excellent connections through the rounds of interviews and it was always an amazing time of self-discovery to talk aloud about myself, especially after working solo or with temporary remote teams. It was confidence boosting to look over my resume and realize I had accomplished a tremendous amount and amassed an impressive portfolio of work. It was also a little disheartening to hear that you weren’t “the one”. My inner critic couldn’t help but whisper “You were almost good enough.” I would never say that to someone else. Why are we so mean to ourselves sometimes??

I limbo-ed back and forth from searching for the perfect job and reminding myself what a totally kick-ass career I had built for myself. I mean, it really, truly was going to take an exceptional opportunity to not make me feel like I had signed over my life. Not to be underestimated, the upside was not paying my own healthcare or as much in small business taxes each year. Working for yourself is not as glamorous as it looks on Instagram, kids.

Sometimes Your Dreams Chase You in the Strangest Ways….

Then it happened. For the sake of making a long story a little shorter… I’ll just jump to the exciting part. I was traveling on my way to meet Dolly Parton (as one does, obvs) and got a notification for a flag on my credit card. I had just been traveling internationally and wanted to take care of it immediately. I stopped in at a coffee shop to use the internet and verify the charges on my laptop. While I was doing that a LinkedIn notification from PR person I’d previously worked with popped up saying her company was hiring for a few new positions. Curious to see who her recent employer was, I clicked the link. Sure enough, one of the positions sounded exactly like what I had been looking for. While I was on hold with the credit card company, I whipped up a cover letter to submit with my resume. I sent it off, closed my laptop, reconciled things with the credit card company and went to meet with Dolly.

It wasn’t long before I was contacted for a bit more information. Then the interview process began. Several weeks, and a few rounds of interviews, later I received the perfect job offer.

YES, I’m still blogging…..

For those of you that are wondering, I’ll still continue to tell our stories here just like I always have. I actually foresee the content getting better and better. Most of that is because I get to have all the fun right along with you. This won’t be the main source of my income and I won’t be so stressed over constantly pitching and hustling. I’ll probably still work ridiculous hours because truthfully I think I enjoy lots of work – blame it on my Midwestern upbringing. If you know, you know.

Tomorrow I’ll share all about where I am and what exactly the new gig is but for now just know I’m really, really happy. If you have a dream or want to pivot, YOU CAN! You can be all the things you want to be. You have an entire lifetime to make your dreams come true- just enjoy living them one by one.

How I Became a Race Car Driver: Skip Barber Racing School and Fiat

I’ve given up trying to make sense of my days and what I’m finally going to be when I grow up. I once told my children that you have an entire lifetime to be all the things you want to be. Don’t give up your dreams just realize you don’t have to be everything at once. I think that’s what happens when you start making wishes and dreaming big dreams for yourself. You start to believe anything is possible, just like you did when you were a child.

If you gain anything at all from this story, I hope it is this: If you can visualize something for yourself, believe it’s possible, then you can begin to pursue it and become it. Nothing is out of reach. You may have to train or make modifications but nothing is impossible. Like the time I went to Skip Barber Racing School courtesy of Fiat, and became a racecar driver for a day.

Yes, you read that correctly. I WENT TO RACING SCHOOL. Spoiler alert: I got track certified thru Skip Barber Racing School at Cresson Motorsport Ranch this April. I’m officially the coolest parent in the 7th and 9th grades.

My decision to go to racing school was worth a good deal more than street cred I earned though. Leading up to this training, there had been a good deal of discussion about driver safety both with our teens and in my professional circles. My occupation is different than the average office worker in many ways. One is that my office is often on four wheels, with the goal to keep those wheels on the road. My colleagues and I often take turns behind the wheel during the drive programs. While I’ve always reminded my children about the importance of assessing the experience and abilities of the person driving them, I had been taking skill and experience as a given in my own circumstances.

After an article was published in my industry regarding a serious accident due to the inexperience of a driving partner, my attention was focused on improving my skills for myself and those that would be driving with me. I am a firm believer that we will only react to the point in which we have been trained. I was beyond thrilled when this opportunity was presented by Fiat hone my skills on the track.

I wasn’t completely new to racing but this would be my first time in the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth and Fiat 500 Abarth on the track. The school began with an in-depth classroom session going over the racing line and vehicle dynamics. Then we headed over to skid pad training and autocross course. After lunch, the program rapidly picked up the pace with the thrill of high-speed lead-follow laps on the race track!

I learned an immense amount that day both about the vehicles I drove and about myself. Not to mention how extremely grateful I am to Fiat for this experience. I left more confident, with sharpened skills and it allowed me to show my children how important it is to stay teachable. We always have new skills to learn or improve upon. I truly believe everyone could benefit from a day or two on the track- with proper training- and if you happen to be driving the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, you are certain to have a whole lot of fun!

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Interested in attending a driving course to sharpen your skills? Click here to learn more about the offerings of Skip Barber Racing School near you.

To learn more about Fiat/Abarth: click here

What To Do After You Win An Award

Iris awards 2018

After you win an award or receive recognition for work in your industry you need to have a plan of action. This advice comes from trial and error experience, not instinctual knowledge. The first time I won an industry award my instincts (and a major case of impostor syndrome) told me to stay busy deciding where to hide my award because I was certain someone was going to take it back as soon as they discovered their mistake. No one gave me a list of what to do next.

Maybe you’re like me and are just so shocked to have won you didn’t think about what comes next. Maybe you are lucky enough to have an on-staff PR team to shout your praises and have already lined up your media interviews…. lucky you. For the rest of us, here is an action plan of things to make the most out of your win.

YOU WON! Now what?

Issue a Press Release: Make the most of your win by writing and distributing a press release to national, local and online media outlets. Don’t know how to write a press release? Someone in your circle does. Just ask. Pay someone to do it for you. It is worth it. This will help you share your story and gain traction radio/podcast, online, print, and news outlets. Share it with everyone everywhere.

Pitch Your Story: Now that you have your release ready it’s time to pitch. Use this win as an opportunity to tell your story of growth, success and future goals. Think local television, radio/podcasts, online media, and print.

Update Your Websites and Bios: Adding this win to your bios, both professional and personal, allows others to see immediately that your work has been recognized as the best in its category. Do not let imposter syndrome keep you from doing this. YOU ARE A WINNER.

Change Your Email Signature: Never forget you are a winner. This is the last piece of information someone will read in your communication. Remind them they are communicating with a winner.

Thank Your Supporters: No one becomes a success on their own. Make sure to spend time sharing your press release and a personal note/email of thanks to friends, family, team members, donors, colleagues, and customers who supported you along the way to this win.

Share Across All Social Channels: If you haven’t already, get out in those social media streets and tell everyone about your win. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat; wherever your community lives, post about it there. If you’ve already told them, tell them again how you are still so excited about winning. Make sure to continue to use the association hashtag to stay part of the conversation.

Leverage This Win For Future Business: Show me the money! Recognition is wonderful and it is an honor to be nominated but it’s time to put this award to work. Add this win to your press/media kits. Don’t forget to add this to LinkedIn as part of your professional portfolio as well.

Hopefully, these action items help you keep the momentum going forward as your heart and head are still swirling in a cloud of “What just happened?” You did it, friend. You did it!! Now keep doing it. You ARE good at it.