As many of us check off days on the academic calendar until the end of the school year, we also welcome annual review time. For some, annual reviews are a time of anxiety and a ritual of checking boxes. But others may find this a time of reflection on accomplishments and motivation for achievement (however you define it) in the year ahead. If you typically find yourself in the former category, I challenge you to embrace this year with a new framework.
In order to make the most of this time, it is important to focus on the skills, experiences, and opportunities you want to harness in the next year. Even if it is not a section on your review, consider how this time can impact your personal and professional goals for the future. Whether you are a new professional in the field, navigating a functional area shift, or a veteran student affairs staff member, it is important to pause before heading into your next evaluation. Some claim to be “busy” at the detriment of their own professional development. Stopping to plan for your career and the professional you want to be, having an in-depth conversation with your supervisor (or mentor) and putting your plan into action might just be the next step(s) you need to be an effective professional.
Many of our colleagues in the field have written about how we can be successful in shifting career services and student affairs positions. In October of last year, Manny Contomanolis of Rochester Institute of Technology and Trudy Steinfeld of New York University published a list of 15 attributes of successfully career services professionals. While in July of 2014 Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason University and Farouk Dey of Stanford University published the “10 Future Trends in College Career Services” in which they address the future staff qualities necessary to stay relevant in a changing landscape.
When looking at the overlap of the necessary attributes of individuals (and student affairs professionals in general) it becomes very clear that intentionality is key to being successful as we move forward as professionals. Many of the skills outlined require being strategic in one’s thinking or the development of new skills that have not always been central to our roles. If you are confused on where to start in goal setting for the next year, or unsure what skills will be essential as you move forward, give these articles a read before hitting submit to your supervisor. Pause and question how are you developing yourself to be a relevant professional for the field in the years to come. And then make a plan on how you will develop these skills by your next annual review. Through intentional reflection and action planning I hope you find yourself embracing this annual review time come next year.
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 Jake Nelko at email@example.com.