No matter where you work in student affairs, building and maintaining relationships is a necessary skill for your career. Relationships with faculty, staff, and campus partners are crucial to providing the right educational opportunities for your students. Starting in a new office, institution, or role is similar to moving into a new home or neighborhood. It takes time to learn the area, culture, and region and how you will fit into the new landscape. Consider the strategies below to build successful relationships as a new professional in your new community.
Start On Your Dream Home.
It is important to go into your first year at your new job with specific projects that you hope to accomplish in mind. Similar to building your dream home, only you are aware of your specific needs and wants as they relate to your new position. Be sure to initiate (and re-visit) a conversation about your professional interests with your supervisor. It is your responsibility to look for opportunities within and outside of your work week to help you achieve your goals as a new professional.
Meet the Neighbors.
When you move to a new city, one of the first things you might do is ask the locals about the area. Who makes the best pizza? Where can I find a good mechanic? The same principles apply to building professional relationships! It is important to ask questions and listen to campus partners to learn about the campus politics, needs of the students, and collaborative opportunities. It can be tempting to immediately jump in and start applying all of your knowledge from graduate school as a new professional, but fight the urge. Listen and learn to build a foundation based on the person or office’s needs.
Build Equity and Invest.
If you’re coming out of graduate school, your graduate assistantship(s) was likely two years long at the maximum. In many cases, it can be difficult to make plans that you see come to fruition as a new professional. As a full-time staff member, you are committed to a longer period of time with an office and have the ability to create more long-term initiatives. The relationships you build with campus partners will be integral to these initiatives! Think of building relationships as building equity- the more you invest, the greater the return.
This month is dedicated to the new crop of new professionals beginning their careers in higher education. Stay tuned for advice on job searching, transitioning into the field, and translating all of that new knowledge to the field.
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.
Vanessa co-wrote this post with Melissa Lyon.
Melissa Lyon is an Assistant Director for Career Exploration and Education at the University of Florida’s Career Resource Center. Melissa holds an M.Ed in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stockton University. As a member of the CRC’s Career Development team, she conducts workshops and individual career planning for students exploring career paths or planning their job search. Melissa provides outreaches and special programming for graduate and international students, and plans graduate school preparation workshops. Twitter: @MelissaLyon28