Myra M. McPhee
Current Position and Institution:
Director of Residence Life, Division of Student Affairs, Sarah Lawrence College
First Position and Institution:
Resident Coordinator, Community Development, La Salle University
The career lesson I learned from my first job was the importance of having collateral assignments as a form of professional development. My primary role was to manage a residence hall and supervise RAs but I diversified my experience by volunteering to advise a Spring Break service trip to the Appalachian area, developing presentations for new student summer orientation and counseling international students on culture shock and adjusting to life in the United States. When my primary responsibilities were stressful or I was unhappy with something in my department it really helped that I had sought out other opportunities on campus that were fulfilling. I connected with students on long-term projects and really saw their development and ways I could be a resource outside of my role as a supervisor and conduct officer.
Collateral assignments proved very beneficial to my emotional well-being. Additionally, my experiences added a diverse set of skills and accomplishments to my resume. As a new professional, it is very easy to focus on doing the job you are hired to do, but for me, I had to try multiple things from the very beginning of my career. It was sometimes difficult to juggle everything I signed up for but I’ve always had the big picture in mind. I’ve continued to seek out additional responsibilities/ committees/ assignments in every job I’ve had since my first job. I am glad I started doing this in the beginning and now it is a natural part of how I function. Learn good habits early in your career. It has benefited me greatly.
The #SATBT series asks higher education and student affairs professionals to share a picture and reflect on a memory and/or one of the most important lessons the learned from their first job in the field.
Consider contributing your story for potential inclusion in the book version…