Current Position and Institution:
Assistant Director, University of Central Florida
First Position and Institution:
Resident Director, Lee University
If you told me in my first year of full-time work in higher education just how important my co-workers would be throughout my life and in my future, I am not sure that I would have believed the extent to which this is true. Not only have my colleagues played a crucial role in my professional development, but they have also been essential to my personal growth. In the field of student affairs, we often talk about the power of relationships and the importance of networking. The longer I am in the field, the more I believe this to be true. The relationships that I formed in my first professional position continue to be a large portion of my own “Board of Directors.” Although I no longer work in the same state or region as most of my colleagues from my first professional position, their importance to me has only become stronger as I continue in the field. They have become my sounding board–the individuals I can reach out to for advice, feedback, support, and ideas. Best of all, they are able to be objective and help me see new perspectives that I may not have otherwise considered. We are all in different places professionally–some are still in student affairs, some are in academic affairs, and others have left the field altogether. Each perspective is crucial and valuable to me as I continue in the field.
To new professionals, especially those working in Residence Life, recognize the value of the individuals around you. There are not many times in your life when your colleagues are also your neighbors, so take full advantage of the opportunity! Within Residence Life, we encourage our own staff and students to develop community on their floors and in their buildings. Role model this with your colleagues–they may later become your future supervisors, future staff members and colleagues once again. The field of student affairs is small and it only becomes smaller the longer you are in it. There is so much to be learned and gained from one another. Be open to learning from one another. Embrace community. Invest in the relationships… their value is immeasurable.
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…