So you’ve recently started your journey towards a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. CONGRATULATIONS! As an instructor in one of these programs, one of the topics I like to review with my students is how they can begin to network and gain valuable professional development… digitally… and often for free. Going digital really isn’t an option anymore, and with that in mind I wanted to give your three tips that can start you on your way:
1. Follow ACPA/NAPSA on all social media channels
As the two main professional associations within the field, you should stay abreast of all that they are doing. Follow them on Twitter (ACPA, NASPA). Connect with them on LinkedIn (ACPA and the ACPA group, NASPA and the NASPA group). Become a formal member (ACPA, NASPA). In addition to these umbrella organizations, there are many other functional-area specific associations you should connect with as well. These include groups focusing on housing, alumni work, career services, etc.
To get you started, head over to www.studentaffairsresources.com, and take a look at the associations pages. The largest and most primary national associations are highlighted in yellow. You’ll also find many area-specific associations. These listings include all of the social media accounts for these organizations that we could find. START CONNECTING. And don’t forget your local and regional associations as well! There is a local/state/regional listing of associations too. Don’t see an association listed? Add it.
2. Start working on your online presence NOW
If you don’t start curating what others find out about you online, Google will. Go “google” your name right now and find out what comes up… then come back here………………………. What is the first link that comes up? Is this what you want your students or potential employers to find? You can’t “remove” this information, but you can flood the internet with information you want to be found and make these links rise to the top. Start taking the opportunity to define who you want to be.
To get you started, take a look at this post on creating infographic resumes and establishing an online presence. Creating a simple landing page through About.me or other web tools is a great low-resource low-time-and-effort way to begin your journey in this area. You can also go further by creating your own blog. A number of professionals collaborated on a presentation last year about “blogging bravely” and we’ve proposed to offer this session again next year, along with a “how to” pre-conference.
3. Engage #SAchat #SAgrad chat and bloggers
Groups of professionals have begun to take their professional development into their own hands and are producing content and interacting outside of the more formal networks of the major associations. Begin to engage in these communities. Many have their own hashtags that you can follow. Some also offer weekly chats and opportunities to engage. You’ll be surprised at how open and welcoming these spaces can be.
To get you started, take a look at this list of higher education and student affairs bloggers and start following a few. Subscribe to a weekly digest of blog posts. Write comments. Reach out to them. They will be more than willing to interact with you. Start following and using some of these hashtags that focus around topics, interests and areas within the field. Check out the Student Affairs Collective’s weekly chats and try one out or participate in an #SAgrad chat.