When I was choosing a graduate program, the majority of my focus rested on the assistantships being offered. Before my on-campus interviews, I poured over position descriptions. I took meticulous notes on each position, exploring their websites, and becoming familiar with all of their intricate nooks and crannies. I have to chuckle when I reflect on the amount of time I spent researching for this experience. Because, of course, I ended up working in the office that conducted my very first graduate school assistantship interview at my very first campus interview session. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The serendipity of the whole affair doesn’t mean it’s not surprising where I found my assistantship fit. While my background rests heavily in Residential Life and Orientation, I chose to work in Student Conduct. In my role as a hearing officer, I navigate conversations with students addressing policy violations that occur both on and off-campus.
I can almost always see a small, but visible, cringe when I tell people I work in Student Conduct.
I don’t blame them. Prior to working in this office, I had my preconceived notions about conduct. How can people spend their entire work week having difficult conversation after difficult conversation with students who don’t want to be in that conversation at all? Isn’t that tiring and emotionally taxing?
Entering into graduate school and recognizing these internal fears, I approached my role with an open mind. I tried my best to check my nerves at the door. I told my supervisor my concerns, we talked through them, and I moved forward. Yes, some days it is emotionally taxing. It can still be hard to shift a conversation from a perfect model of student development to discussing disciplinary next-steps. However, I sought out a graduate experience because I wanted to be challenged. I could have sought assistantships I knew I would succeed in without reservations. However, only seven weeks in, I can already tell I am developing a professionalism I never would have ascertained by staying in my comfort zone.
Yes, hesitations are definitely valid, but listening to my gut and acknowledging my fears allowed me to address them upfront. Once these fears were said out loud, they lost their ability to grow and foster from thoughtful concerns into roadblocks. If hesitations stop you from taking a leap that could lead to full on flight, it might be time to tell those hesitations to shush. I’m beginning to fall in love with conduct and I am grateful I’m facing the challenge head on. If I had listened to every fear, I wouldn’t be in my graduate program. I definitely would have missed out on some remarkable opportunities for growth.