Working in career services for the past three years at the undergraduate and graduate level has been the most rewarding experience that I have had throughout college. I am grateful for the guidance and mentoring I have received from student affairs professionals because these experiences have been crucial in my development of leadership skills and professionalism. I truly believe that student employment is one of the best leadership experiences that students can receive, if student affairs educators are intentionally investing in their development.
SA pros help many students throughout campus but it is important not to forget the students working within their own offices. Professionals can support student staff by facilitating trainings to gain skills that employers are seeking and a level of professionalism that will help them to be successful in their future employment endeavors. Here are a few tips of how professionals have supported my growth and ways in which I pay it forward by developing the students that I work with now.
- Mentor ALL the student staff
Maybe you don’t supervise the student staff in your office directly, but you can still support their learning. Build these relationships so that you can help students achieve the next step on their career path. Many professionals guided me throughout the student affairs graduate school process and now I get to do the same for others!
- Create trainings for students for leadership and professional development
Many offices and institutions are recognizing the importance of creating programs for student staff development. Creating workshops targeted for this large population or intentionally designating time in meetings are great ways to build in those leadership opportunities.
- Utilize challenge and support
Give your students the opportunity to take more of a lead role on some projects or initiates in your office to let them know that their voice matters. Allow students to become involved in their own learning experience by giving them a chance to set goals and choose what they want to get out of their experience! Challenge them to complete a cultural awareness or Allies trainings but encourage and support them in all things that may be out of their comfort zone.
- Celebrate their success
Creating a recognition program for the students in your office acknowledges their hard work. Accomplishments or co-curricular activities can be celebrated at end of the semester banquets but don’t save it all for the end, make sure to acknowledge their success regularly.
- The label matters
Does your office call them “student employees” or “student staff?” This subtle difference will assist in emphasizing their role within your office and will help the rest of your staff to value ensuring their development!
In conclusion, student employment opportunities are clear pathways for students to gain key skills sought by employers. Student affairs professionals can ensure they are receiving the leadership growth that will help them be successful in their next employment opportunities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.