Student affairs professionals spend their work lives helping to educate and develop their students, but don’t necessarily have the time or resources to educate and develop themselves by presenting at conferences, nor sometimes have the financial resources to go to conferences. Between the time commitment, conference fees, travel and lodging, and food, spending a few days at a conference can come at a hefty cost for college and university budgets. Although attending conferences may be the “go-to” idea for professional development, there are many other avenues to pursue. So, for all of the #SAPro who can’t attend a conference, or those who just don’t like conferencing, we’ve come up with a list of other ways to continue to grow and develop in your roles:
On Campus: Reach out and connect with other offices on campus and express interest in volunteering to diversify your experience. Ask about student organizations looking for an advisor, or if you can facilitate a training for a student group. Connect with those that coordinate graduation and ask if you can volunteer or be on a planning committee. Reach out to Human Resources and find out about any employee committees that you could join.
Fraternity/Sorority, National Clubs and Organizations: Think about serving as an advisor, alumni committee, or explore other opportunities such as facilitating a conference training session.
Alma Mater: Reach out to your undergraduate or graduate school alma mater and inquire about volunteering on a committee regionally or nationally.
Professional Associations: Reach out to the executive office and inquire about any volunteer opportunities, either formal or informal. Think about volunteering at conference registrations as it is a great way to meet people and connect names with faces.
Share your Areas of Expertise
Webinars: Think about submitting a proposal for a conference webinar. It is a good way to get comfortable presenting within your organization. Or, be on the lookout for webinars offered through your professional organization(s) that would help you and/or your team.
On Campus: If there is a professional development circle or conversations that go on, inquire about leading one. Think about proposing a summer group read and facilitating a conversation afterwards.
Blogs: Volunteer to write blogs, similar to this one, to help share advice and begin to become known in the community. Or, if you’re not comfortable writing a post yet, simply make it a priority to read more of the blogs and articles that your colleagues across the field are putting out there.
Podcasts: Offer to create podcasts or narrated presentations. Not only does this show off your presentation and oral communication skills, you might get to learn a new software to do so!
Taking on New Projects/Initiatives
Create New Office Resources: Do you have a great idea that could help your office run better or help your students? Take the initiative to create new resources, such as the tipsheets for your office. Maggie had an interest in specific populations, so she made resources for students in Greek organizations, student athletes, and students with disabilities.
Supervision/Management: Express interest in supervising (or co-supervising) graduate assistants or student peer advisors to learn about supervision and management. In addition, develop informal performance appraisal forms and have individual conversations to learn what it was like to navigate an informal appraisal process.
Documentation: If you notice that not many office policies or operations are documented, take the initiative to volunteer to document them.
Utilize Online Resources
Lynda.com: Many campuses have subscriptions to Lynda.com, which is a database of videos about hundreds of topics on everything from Excel to photography.
YouTube: If you’re ever at a loss on where to find tutorials on a topic, do as our students do and “YouTube It.” Like Lynda, YouTube has a plethora of tutorials just waiting for you to watch them.
Formal Professional Development Programs
ACPA Commission for Career Services: Become a mentor, or mentee, and connect with others in the field, sharing advice and best practices.
NACE’s Management Leadership Institute: This was one of the best opportunities to learn about the management, strategy, and leadership within Career Services. In addition, one develops a cohort of other aspiring, or current, leaders within Career Services.
NACE’s Leadership Advancement Program: Learn how NACE’s leadership, committees, and operations work while expressing interest in getting involved in committees and NACE leadership.
Professional Development looks different for each person, and you can choose the ways in which you work to continue to grow as a student affairs professional. You’ve got lots of options that can fit your needs. What are some other ways that you work on your professional development? Share with us in the comments!
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 Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.