Many people set ambitious resolutions at the start of the new year, but often don’t follow through because they don’t reflect deeply about why they are trying to make those changes or act intentionally to fulfill them. Creating professional resolutions from a firmly rooted understanding of your professional philosophy and practice ensures that these goals don’t become optional and are true to what matters to you. Therefore, my goal is to spark a dialogue generating ideas about professional philosophies and implications for NYE resolutions and practice in career services.
One helpful framework to conceptualize professional philosophies in student affairs is Gregory Blimling’s (2001) four “Communities of Practice,” which breaks down the vastly different functional areas within student affairs and higher education, delineating purpose, process, outcome, and theory for each. Including both educational perspectives (Student Learning and Student Development) and management perspectives (Student Services and Student Administration), these communities of practice provide a platform for shared language to better understand what student affairs and higher education do overall, and define your role within it.
Blimling (2001) argued that this understanding of your personal philosophy and department’s philosophy within these four communities of practice contextualizes incoming demands, and provides a versatile framework to set goals, prepare for new mandates, and actualize visions. While professionals constantly have to competently execute responsibilities and shift priorities with all four frames, I agree with Blimling’s (2001) challenge that, as individuals, we must define our roles in career services grounded primarily in at least one frame. These philosophies will vary for each professional based on personal and professional contexts, but, overall, we cannot be everything (educator, developer, customer service guru, and administrator) at all times to everyone, so we must establish priorities. With this clarity, creating and remaining committed to intentional resolutions can be transformational.
Upon reflection, I realized that while working in career services, I tend to slip into the Student Services community of practice, but this often conflicts with what is central to my professional philosophy. Students seek customer service from our offices, often asking us to do the work for them, and the structure of our services are usually most conducive with this model. Although necessary, this often sacrifices Student Development and Learning philosophies I believe are most important regarding career development. By simply maintaining the daily demands of the career services environments I’m a part of, I have to work harder to keep Student Development and Learning at the forefront of my work with students. I know I’m not the only one who experiences this particular conflict, and this does not prescribe a qualitative weight for the community of practices. However, knowing where I stand, my department stands, and where career services does and could fit into the higher education landscape, I’m setting these goals, and invite you to consider what this looks like in your experience. Does the way that you approach your work with students reflect your professional philosophy? How does this fit into your NYE resolutions?
Cheers to 2016!
Ringing in the new year with no particular theme, this month is a grab bag, where contributors can share any topic of interest. Because nobody puts baby in a corner.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Jennifer Keegin on Mid-Life Career Choices