Well today officially marks the last day of classes! As Finals Week and Closing quickly approaches, I can’t help but feel reflective on my first full semester as a Residence Director. In the past several months I have learned so much as an Emerging Student Affairs professional. So, as I continue to reflect on my experiences I decided that I should share with you all the top five things that I have learned from my first semester on this SA journey.
One… give thanks.
Saying thank you can really make someone feel appreciated and can help you realize how kind people are. However, sometimes it’s not enough to just say thanks. You should add why you are thankful, which will help you reflect and allows the person to feel truly appreciated. I did ’30 Days of Being Grateful’ and chose 30 people in my life to appreciate. I called, skyped, wrote letters, or dropped off goodies to those people because there is no greater joy in life than bringing happiness to others.
Two… get rest and pursue your passions.
Taking care of YOU is probably one of the most important things I have learned on this SA journey of late night duty calls and long days. I have realized that I really can’t give back to my community when I am constantly craving a nap or alone time. Physical and mental energy are essential to a successful work day and when you take care of yourself, that allows you the ability to take care of others. Now, I don’t get 8 hours of sleep every single night, but I make sure that I find the time to exercise, eat healthy, and enjoy a cup of coffee when I need a little pick-me-up!
Three… ask questions.
Over the past several months, I have kept a running sticky note every week of various questions that I have had. I even saved those notes so when we train new RDs I can help them with their questions. I remember coming into this position being overwhelmed by all of the questions that I had and I thought that my supervisor or fellow RDs would think less of me for asking so many questions. But, I have learned is that it is so much better to ask those questions, than just assume you have all of the answers.
Four… keep a to do list.
If I don’t write something down, I will forget it and thus will forget to follow up on something important. So, I have a giant legal pad that sits on my desk where I keep my weekly to do lists that are dated. Once a week goes by, I file it in a folder so I can hold onto them for next year. It’s important to be task driven… but, it’s also important to remember to take time to do things that won’t give you the pleasure of striking off items on a to do list. For example, while I was working this morning, I had two of my old residents swing by my office. I was in the middle of writing up a report and was completely in the zone. However, when they swung in and sat down I felt my heart sink at the thought of not being able to finish my report and cross if off my to do list. But, then I realized… wow that is not why I chose to go into Student Affairs at all! So, I snapped out of my funk and enjoyed a thirty minute visit with two old residents. After they left, I felt like an energizer bunny had just visited my office and I cranked out the rest of the report before my lunch meeting.
Five… challenge yourself.
I have grown so much over the last few months. I have learned so much about my interests in student affairs and about my supervisor style. But, I have also learned that I should never stop challenging myself. Less then a year ago, I was an RA who thought I knew everything about my RD/AD. But, I am learning that there is so much more to this position then I thought, and that is both humbling and exciting. So, I will continue to challenge myself. I will continue to learn more about my students’ development. I will push myself out of my comfort zone and work with students who come from very different backgrounds than me.
Do you have any tips to share that you have learned?
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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