In the ever-changing world of higher education, our office environments can have a few too many tasks, projects, and assignments. Whether you’re a program manager or leader within your office, it is critical to evaluate how to best allocate time, resources, and talent. Experiential learning opportunities provide a great segue to involving students within your organizational processes while addressing needs that are important to you. Here are a few beginner’s tips on creating effective and meaningful opportunities for your office.
Conduct a human & organizational resource audit within your program or office.
While this may seem a bit obvious, it is important to sit down and audit where time, energy, and effort is going in terms of your resources and services. When conducting this audit, evaluate items in terms of currency that hold value for your program or office. For example, time, money, people involved in a project, etc. Additionally, conduct a percentage comparison of what this allocation looks like within a standard work week. Are you spending too many resources on one area? Is the lack of investment in another area presenting a service gap? Are there areas of service that aren’t even being addressed within the current allocation? The audit should ultimately bring light to points of discussion and reflection for your program or office. Then, utilize these discussions for action.
Assess where a student presence AND perspective could be best utilized for your program or office.
The beauty of creating experiential learning opportunities is being able to incorporate student presence and perspective into your program or office. After completing your audit, determine what programs or processes could best be leveraged by students. Utilize students because of their presence and perspective and not simply asoan extra pair of hands. Students will be willing to invest their time and talents in opportunities that clearly demonstrate a vested interest in students. Students latch onto aiding the success of other students; how can your opportunity enable that to happen?
Develop strategic learning outcomes which can apply to all students.
Learning outcomes are the definitive factor that separates experiential learning outcomes from volunteering or part-time employment experiences. With this in mind, one should identify skills, competencies, or abilities that lead to student success. Whether outcomes are general, such as an area from CAS Learning Outcomes, or a specific skill or competency from a guided association, such as the National Association of College and Employers, define outcomes that empower students—regardless of major or vocational interest. This will ensure the overall quality of your experience while monitoring items within your locus of control.
All in all, the process of creating experiential learning opportunities may be laborious but the benefits are often sweet. Good luck on your journey and best wishes on finding where students can fit internally in your office.
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.