As I approach graduation, I’m looking forward to new opportunities and challenges while also reflecting back on the experiences I’ve had during the past two years. Transitions are always difficult. I’ve found it particularly hard to know what to expect moving forward when I’ve learned in my courses that everything should follow best practices and have intentional learning outcomes. Call me a pessimist if you want, but I’m hesitant to believe that happens everywhere. If that’s the case, what does that mean for me?
Given these uncertain expectations, I don’t know how to prepare to make meaning from my first experience as an SAPro. Instead, I thought of three ways that seasoned #SAPros can help rising #SAGrads prepare for this transition.
Please don’t say that my experience was “JUST a graduate position”
Though I understand the impulse entirely, try to avoid the assumption that you know what I did in my graduate student positions. The responsibilities in GA positions differ at other institutions. All positions are different to begin with, and the experience really is what the #SAGrad makes of it. Plus, lots of these positions are unpaid and require a lot of hours of work to get the most from the experience. People don’t do this intentionally, I realize, but in some cases the benefit of the doubt makes a huge difference.
Mentor new #SApros
Offering to mentor a newly graduated #SAPro doesn’t have to be a high maintenance ordeal. It could be both rewarding and enlightening to hear about their new ideas. New perspectives (even from someone less experienced) can only help your creative juices flow a little bit more freely. Plus, you can see their growth as a professional and know you’re making an impact on the field. They will be forever grateful, and definitely return the favor at one point or another.
Reflect on your own path
While not in direct support of new #SAPros, reflection on your growth as a professional is never going to hurt you. Instead, it can give you insight into where you’ve been so you can re-evaluate how you are progressing towards your goals. You may find that there are professional development opportunities you want to take advantage of. (You could even invite a new #SAPro to share the experience if you’re feeling ambitious!) Or, you could find that it’s time to challenge yourself in some other way. Reflecting on your path is a great way to make sure you are still working towards your goals. It helps you assess how intentional your work has been so you can see where there’s room for improvement. By maintaining this self-awareness, you are in a better place to act as a role model to new #SAPros.
At the end of the day, there’s really no wrong way to do it. I hope you’ll support the new #SAPros in your life in any way you’re able!
This month is a grab bag, with no particular theme – writer’s choice! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.