Recently I made the decision to run for two different leadership positions in a couple of organizations. The first, for the Academic Advising Association, established for the entire advising community at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as a communications coordinator. The second, for NACADA as Nebraska’s state representative on the Region 6 Steering Committee.
I went back and forth for quite a long time wondering if these are opportunities I should or shouldn’t reach for. On one hand, I’m so new to my job, and new to these organizations, I don’t know that I’d have much to contribute, to be honest. But on the other hand, perhaps it is my newness that makes me absolutely qualified. Maybe I need to be the voice of the young professional to make sure we’re represented, too. And maybe this is the best chance to learn more about all those things I don’t feel like I know. Perhaps a full-immersion experience will help me develop as a professional.
To be clear, nobody I’ve interacted with has made me feel incompetent or unqualified for my job or either of these roles that I’m interested in. It’s all in my own head. Being the youngest and least experienced person in the room makes me uncomfortable, because I am assuming that the people around me look down on me in some way.
I don’t think I’m bad at my job. I don’t think I’m great at it either, but I’m certainly not bad. But my self-talk sounds a lot like, “Well, what do I know? I haven’t even been doing this a year!” and “I better not contribute so that I can allow the other, more experienced professionals in the room to talk.” I don’t care for those thoughts very much. I might have less experience than others, but that doesn’t make that experience less valuable. I know things about advising. I know things about being a young professional. I have thoughts and opinions and strategies based on what I know. Why shouldn’t I be at the table?
It makes me sad, really, that this isn’t a conversation where I have to convince anybody around me, but that I have to convince myself. But I recognize that if being in a room, on a team, on a committee, with more experienced professionals makes me uncomfortable, I need to do it more often. And this is how I plan to do that, should either of these elections go my way.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Meagan, Karyn, Michael, and Alice, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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