Everyone can relate to being assigned to a group project in a Gen Ed course in college. Think back to that group project. Did anyone try to shirk their responsibilities or just do a genuinely bad job, and then try to slip away and avoid everyone who tried to call attention to their poor work? It’s completely possible you could go the rest of you college career and never encounter them again.
That can’t happen in the student affairs community. Remember, it’s a VERY small field, if you don’t personally know someone from Institution-X, you probably know someone who does. So taking the easy way out isn’t an option, because, at some point, it will undoubtedly come back to haunt you. After all, as a profession, we do love to talk.
This applies not only in actual work, but also in your relationships with fellow #SAgrads, especially those at your own institution. Many of us are in programs with a strong cohort model, and the pressure to bond can seem overwhelming at times. It can seem that faculty and alumni of the program continually stress that these individuals in your class are the basis for your future network, and that your development as a group can make or break that network. They do so because it is a huge risk, and we shouldn’t let petty differences endanger our futures.
With this in mind, I’ve developed a personal set of standards, to which I’m going to try and hold myself accountable for the remainder of my #SAgrad experience, and forwards into my career.
1.) Make Friends: While it may not be feasible to be best friends with all your fellow students or colleagues, there is no reason not to find something to connect over with each individual. After all, we all share a passion for helping students, right?
2.) Be Available: I personally know the struggle of being an introvert, but sometimes you have to push yourself to spend time with those around you. The experiences we have in the classroom teach us, but it’s the other times spent together that help us grow holistically.
3.) Be Open: I myself am guilty of ignoring other’s views in preference of my own. But part of our duty as #SAprofessionals will be to teach students to stay open-minded. We do need to practice what we preach.
4.) Speak Out: On the flip side of that, you should always be free to express yourself. Never feel that you need to repress part of who you are for the benefit of others. Your experiences and beliefs can benefit the whole group.
None of us are perfect, and are likely to forget one or more of these, especially when we get stressed with the load of school and work, but mindfulness of how we interact with these individuals who are becoming lifelong colleagues is worth the extra effort.
#SABeginnings is a month long series that asks SA grad students and 1st year pros to share a piece of their journey with the entire SAC community, new and seasoned. We believe in investing in the future of our awesome profession here at SAC. For more information, check out the introduction post written by Alex Fields.