Andover, and over, and over again

This weekend I spent my time in Andover, Massachusetts and with transportation it’s about 45 minutes from Boston Logan International Airport — not bad at all. I’ve never been to Andover before so I had no idea what to expect. Let’s just say, Andover is a small, quaint little town with lots of green hills and trees, secluded from the likes of anything as “famous” as Boston.


I was in town for an event my program, Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), was hosting at Phillips Academy. It was the 2013 Recruiter’s Weekend — an annual event that gives interested/prospective graduate students a wonderful opportunity to meet with representatives from over 30 universities that are a part of the IRT Consortium. As mentioned in my previous post on successful professional networking tidbits, introductions and a firm handshake can actually go a long way (one of my fellow associates actually got “lectured” by one of the recruiters tell her that her original handshake was not “good enough”).


I arrived at Boston International Airport around 9am and prepared myself for the long day ahead. I didn’t actually get into Phillips Academy until about 12:30 in the afternoon. Five hours later it was time for the Recruiters Fair and with a little bit of luck, I made it out of there alive and feeling mediocre about my performance. Perhaps it was because it was already 9pm and I’ve been travelling from a Redeye out of Long Beach, arrived in an unfamiliar 90 degree + humidity environment, and had to discuss who I was, where I’m from, and what I’m interested in studying for a good chunk of the day. I’m really hoping I made some sort of memorable impact on at least two of the representatives.


The very next day, the second part of the Recruiters Fair began. At 9am we were ready to with slacks and button-ups pressed and professional folder in hand. I felt more confident going into the second round partially because I was able to get some sleep, it wasn’t as hot or humid as the previous day, and I have way more energy in the morning than the evening. And fortunately, I nailed it the second time around. I felt positive, organized, more personable and professional, and really connected with the recruits (you should see how many follow-up emails I’ve written to say thank you and hopefully help guide me in the right direction).

Okay… I can see how this is getting awfully boring and dull. I’ll come back and add some pictures from my trip to make this post a little more tolerable.

My main point of the trip: being around people of color again, especially people of color with similar goals, interests, and readiness for change and academic endeavors, was a blessing and a privilege. I haven’t felt part of a community like that since I graduated from UC Berkeley and working with the Pilipino community there. Honestly, it reaffirmed and validated my belief in the power of individuals of color working together and towards a common goal/area of interest. I found that the most empowering and rewarding part of my trip. I met about 20-30 strong colleagues that were going places and had a statement to make within their field as an underrepresented minority.


I found strength in my colleagues and knew I was heading in the right direction. Being brown and with people who embraced their brown skin as well was a noteworthy moment for me. I can confidently say that I was happy to have gone that weekend with people who “get it” and “get me”.

Lastly, I just wanted to share my ideal schools for my pursuit in graduate studies within higher education and student affairs. By no means is this an exhaustive and sequential list of preference, but just something to help ground me in this long, tedious, and tiresome process:

  • University of Michigan
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Boston University
  • Harvard University
  • Washington State University
  • University of Maryland/College Park
  • Stanford University
  • University of Vermont
  • New York University
  • California State University, Long Beach

This isn’t going to be an easy process and I know I’ll have to constantly revisit this list, do some more research, email professors and staff, and do it again and again and over and over again. Well, wish me luck!


The Sprinkles to Success

I’ll be going to Boston a week from now to attend a Recruitment Event for major universities seeking graduate school applicants. There will be a good amount of schools looking for star students and the question for any potential applicant becomes: well, how exactly do I stand out in this sea of competition?

These are my top two pieces of advice that can make any individual stand out, regardless of what they’re trying to accomplish. I’ll call them the “sprinkles” on an ice cream cone that can give you that little “wow” factor:


  • Your Introduction: By far, one of the my biggest pet peeves is when I see someone timidly introduce them-self. Knowing how to introduce yourself is a necessary skill to have, but is often underrated and overlooked. I think a strong candidate is someone who is confident about who they are, where they’re from, and what their purpose is,Ā and can easily introduce all of the above without delay. The first words that come out of your mouth can make or break a deal. Delivery is important. Why be scared of who you are? This is you. That is your name. These are the experiences that have made you who you are. And this is what you want. Introduce yourself the way you want to be remembered. Granted, you may be teetering the line between egocentric and confident depending on your personality (type),it’s still nevertheless important to have a firm grasp of who you are and the image you’re trying to present. Also, don’t forget to work on your handshake — equally important.

    What I always tell people I work with is to take time out of your day and practice introducing your name and something memorable about you (this can be regarding where you’re from, what you’re scared of, or how you’re feeling). Practice saying, “Hi, my name is (Eric Carnaje) and I’m a (Student Affairs Officer with the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles).” Confidence can be sexy, make you feel good, and it’s contagious. Once you take ownership of your identity, you can take ownership of every interaction you have. Practice it!

  • Your Body Language: Do you ever feel like you’re having a slower, less productive day by the way back slowly droops over your shoulder, hunching over the keyboard, sitting on the bare edge of your seat? That’s because of your body language. Your body language says all, does all, and makes you feel all. You want to feel lazy? Relax your back and let your weigh down the rest of your day. Want to make it a more positive experience? Sit up tall, relax your shoulders, and be mindful of every angle, curve, muscle used in your body. Effectively knowing what your body looks like and what it says about you can make a difference in an interview or in something like a recruitment event. The way you move is the way you feel. Look good and you’ll start to feel good. Also, being conscious of what parts of your body are moving when you speak, when you listen, and how and where they’re placed. If someone is engaged with you and has an open body stance, reciprocate that image. Stay open, be engaged, and don’t cross your arms. There’s a social psychology study done on dating that results in individuals giving out their number more often to strangers who were engaged and mimicked their verbal cues/body language (sorry, I don’t have the link for this one, but here’s another good example)! It may be a little weird thinking about people copying you, but these subtle actions are rarely noticed, but they can be to your advantage if you use them correctly!

*Photo credit: Moo Creamery, Bakersfield, CA; Eric Carnaje, July 2013