It’s time for a yearly update! My advice for the digital #SAgrad of 2015…
So you’ve recently started your journey towards a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. CONGRATULATIONS! As a former instructor in a number 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 four tips that can start you on your way:
1. Understand your digital identity, reputation and how you are perceived online.
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? The first step in being a digital #SAgrad is to understand your “digital stamp,” or your reputation online.
To get you started, check out Erik Qualman’s book, What Happens On Campus Stays On YouTube. This book is an update to Erik’s previous book, and I, along with other higher education professionals, collaborated with him to update it for a college student audience. If you want a free preview, you can take a look here. The book helps you understand what it means to have a digital stamp and some of the opportunities and pitfalls of being online.
A free resource that might also help is this conference presentation I did with Josie Ahlquist at ACPA 2015: What Grad School Didn’t Teach You About Your Digital Life.
2. Start working on your online presence NOW
So you googled yourself… not happy with what you found? You can’t “remove” this information, but you can generate your own content to push these results down the list. Curate your online presence. Start taking the opportunity to define who you want to be. Depending on the amount of time you want to invest and your goals, generating your own content can range from being mindful of your social media posts to creating your own website or blog.
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 portfolio or blog. Take a look at some examples of online portfolios that were created by the graduate students I taught at Merrimack College. The students created these as a class assignment, but you can easily modify them according to what you need or what you hope to accomplish. For further tips, take a look at this resource page that I created with a number of other professionals when we presented on blogging in higher education and student affairs.
3. 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), and 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.
4. 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.