I’ve got a lot of career left, and a lot of growing and development to do! I am evolving like many others. Through this process, I have come to appreciate the critical role that reflection and reassessment play in my career development. To be mindful is something that I constantly strive towards. I now understand that to be successful, I need to be aware of myself and of how I interact and engage with my work, those I work with, and the individuals I work for.
In identifying moments that were celebratory, those in which the hard truths about working in the field became evident and challenging, and things that I think a future #SAPro should know before committing to this work, I found a topic, that for me, fits all three—faculty!
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with faculty in all of my roles in higher education so far. That’s right—I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with faculty! It is a cause for celebration. Faculty are a critical component of our work and they can be excellent supporters, mentors, and coaches. The vast majority of the time, I really enjoy my interactions with faculty. And sometimes, whether real or perceived, working with faculty has had its challenges. It is how you face those challenges and move forward after these experiences that can be the make or break. What is it the wise people I know say? You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your response.
I’ve reflected on my years working with faculty—the best—and the worst moments and boiled them down into the items below. I hope this will help those who are considering the variety of career paths within student affairs!
Most faculty want to be included!
The more faculty you can include across initiatives and efforts, the more buy-in and support can be generated. This ultimately enhances success and leads to positive outcomes for students.
Choose the faculty you involve wisely. Working well with someone is really important. For many items, you want to work with faculty who will help champion efforts. Though, do consider building bridges with faculty who challenge. The differing lens, the devil’s advocate, someone’s sheer desire to turn something into Swiss cheese, well, you may need that! And just know, most of the time, it makes it better. It is not personal—even though it feels that way at times.
Timing is everything
Don’t let the faculty be the last to know—just don’t. When you think you have communicated information—communicate it more. Recognize there will always be someone “who hasn’t heard about it.” But, if you do not plan communication well—your work can be shut down. This does not feel well after you have invested time and effort, and when you know that students would have experienced a benefit or gain.
Be specific and succinct
Concisely provide existing data or metrics to help convey your idea, a challenge, or a change in process. This helps you use time wisely and makes meetings productive. Faculty will appreciate seeing that you have a clear plan and goals. It also displays the benefits to students, other faculty, the campus community, etc. Plus, faculty can suggest someone better suited to assist you if they aren’t the best person to be involved in your project.
Maintain a Curious Nature
While not a faculty member, learning as much as possible about faculty roles, constraints, and needs allows you to pair your efforts in a way that more holistically supports students.
This can be hard, but my final thoughts are, know when to say you were incorrect, made a misstep, that you do not know the answer, or that you’re sorry. People see through lies and it is okay to not know everything and to seek guidance from others. Faculty can provide strategy for moving forward and may be able to help you navigate a situation with one of their colleagues. Seek growth, and try to refrain from complaining or speaking negatively.
We’re all better when we are working together. I’m really fortunate to work at a large medical institution, with basic scientists and biomedical science trainees who work very hard to change the lives of people they have never met through their research efforts. I find that very powerful and very inspiring, so I want to do my part to foster success and development for everyone. I know to do that, I need to collaborate with faculty.
I’m thankful to a part of this community and getting to work with these faculty is very rewarding, encouraging, and challenging—but, in the best way. If you land in a role where you work closely with faculty, I wish you the same— good luck in your career as a #SAPro!
October is Careers in Student Affairs Month (CSAM). While increased awareness of entry-points into the field are important to highlight, CSAM also serves as a way to discuss the larger culture of student affairs. Our pursuit of ensuring student affairs staff is representative of diversifying student demographics can’t come at the cost of health and well-being of staff. Add your voice to the conversation by using #CSAM17. Have ideas about a future series for the Student Affairs Collective? Contact Nathan Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org.