Student affairs is an incredibly dynamic and diverse space – it’s constantly evolving, changing and improving, which makes it critical for those of us in the industry to similarly evolve, develop and grow in the same way! The best news – engaging in student affairs is relatively simple – namely because the vast majority of people who work in the space love to connect, learn from each other and get involved both locally and globally. As someone who personally embraces every opportunity to keep up to date with the latest news and developments and connect with colleagues near and far, here are my four key ways of making the most of the student affairs space:
* Jump online and make the most of your institutions’ journal subscriptions. Keep up to date with the latest research in your area of interest and if you find something good – share it with others by email or forums like blogs or Linked In.
* Keep a close eye on the news – ‘favourite’ national and international online newspapers like the Telegraph, Guardian, Time Higher Ed (UK), the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed (US), the Australian (Australia) or University World News (Global).
* Subscribe to Linked In groups relevant to your interests and passion, and join in on the discussions.
* Compare and contrast what happens in your own institution with those in your neighbourhood, or at the national or global level. Look at ways to learn from what others are doing, adapting ideas to suit your own student cohorts or environment.
*Follow up with authors of articles of blogs, or key influencers with questions and queries – they get to talk about their work and most really appreciate the interest and interaction.
* Speak with colleagues about their key achievements, challenges and lessons learned, and apply them in your own context.
* Organize ‘meet and greets,’ tours or visits when travelling interstate or abroad either as part of work or personal reasons. Even if I’ve only had a spare hour or half day, I’ve tried to make the most of opportunities to visit other institutions and develop new connections.
* Make time to stay in touch – be it through email, a quick phone call, Skype or all the others forms of communication available. It’s always nice to touch base and see what’s been happening and share a few laughs.
*Think about your own experiences and skills and share them with colleagues through informal chats, attendances and presentations at conferences or networking events.
*Write your own blog or contribute to an online network (like the Student Affairs Collective!)
*Conduct research and write articles for journals – peer review or otherwise. Yes, it’s time consuming but it’s a great skill to develop and showcase your own professional skills and development whilst highlighting the great work being undertaken at your institution.
* Comment on blogs and articles – share your viewpoint or reflections on others work or thoughts. It creates dialogue and stimulates discussion which can often lead to really interesting conversation whilst further expanding your network.
* Explore options for working with others, across institutions or departments, on collaborative or joint projects, research or conference presentations. I love nothing more than when someone contacts me with the request to work together on something which I know will not only be interesting but also of great value to my work (…so get in touch!)
* Seek out a Mentor – someone whom you trust and respect, or who has the professional experiences you would also like to develop. Look to them for advice, guidance and feedback, asking them what they would do or say in particular circumstances. Where appropriate, ask them to introduce you to other key influencers or contacts in your field.
* In the same way, when you can, provide mentoring to someone you know who might just be beginning in the industry. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship but you’d be surprised how much wisdom you can impart to someone in the very early days of their career.
What methods do you use to keep connected and engaged in student affairs? What advice would you provide to those wanting to stay in the loop?
> BONUS <
Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles