October is Careers in Student Affairs Month. And as I approach the end of my first year as a student affairs professional, I wanted to reflect on my journey so far.
As an undergraduate student, working in student affairs seemed like the dream role for me. From being a first-generation college graduate with my bachelors and master’s to starting my career, the path to becoming an #SAPro was a rewarding experience. And while I was motivated to pursue this career in college, the path wasn’t always clear.
I wanted to share tips that can help assist aspiring student affairs professionals. These tips not only made my journey enjoyable, they provided some positive reminders during each stage of my #SAGrad and college experience.
My SA Story
I attended Ramapo College of New Jersey for my undergraduate degree. As a junior, I was considering career options post-graduation and thought about my experiences as a Resident Assistant and Peer Mentor. Ever since high school, I knew that mentorship was an important part of my life. Growing up, I made connections and relationships with many staff members that believed in my skills and passion for success.
At Ramapo, the positive community of mentors and friends spurred my student affairs motivation and goals. Student leadership was one of the best parts of my college experience and helped to provide an answer to what student affairs could look like as a career. After a 1 on 1 with my residence director, I decided to research the field; I knew I wanted to work at a college or university as a professional. Decisions like attending graduate school, going to student affairs conferences and more provided major insight to my future career goals. Graduation turned from a day of nerves and fear into a new chapter of excitement. I felt positively about my new goal of paying it forward as an emerging graduate student.
Attending graduate school was a formative experience. The classes, assistantship, and professional development informed the professional that I am today. The Rider University Organizational Leadership & Higher Education program was one of the best educational and professionally rewarding experiences in my life. Graduating with my master’s degree and working in residence life have made the decision to pursue a career in student affairs exciting and worth it. With graduate school completed, I embarked on a extended #SASearch (story for another blog post) leading to an acceptance of a professional role at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Starting my career now as a #SAPro feels amazing and is everything I wanted during my undergraduate experience. From helping students learn about what they hope to achieve during college to having 1 on 1’s with my students, everyday is an amazing experience in my career.
Ten months into my student affairs career, I am so thankful to everyone that supported my journey. I am so thankful to work in this field everyday and help student make a difference.
Everyone has a different path to student affairs – and that’s ok!
Some people enter the field because of a mentor that support their goals. Others attend a program or event that sparks their interest. Follow your heart and remember your “why” for starting this path. These two motivators will take you far in the profession.
From functional areas like residence life, career services, counseling, and more, you can make a difference in all areas of the SA world. As long as the passion for helping students and making college a positive experience for undergraduates is a major priority for you as a professional, you will make a difference.
Why do you want to be an #SAPro?
I wanted to be sure this was the right career for my future. When meeting with my mentor and residence director, we spent time answering many important questions. The question I returned to was, “why do I want to become a student affairs professional?”Knowing my core values and motivations were helpful in understanding if the field was best for me. Working in student affairs as a professional is very different than being a student leader. This was one of the biggest lessons I took with me going into my path as a professional. Ask yourself these questions and research as much as you can about the field before making a final decision.
Believe in Yourself
Working in student affairs has opened so many doors that I want to use to help others. Even with hardships, the road towards student affairs has been rewarding, empowering, and inspiring. Be sure to follow your passions, ask questions, research with your peers and mentors, and keep moving forward.
Good luck and remember that everything will be ok in the end. If you do decide to become a student affairs professional, understand all of the steps within the field. Just remember, any achievement starts with the decision to try and keep staying determined. Best wishes and you got this!
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”- Nelson Mandela
October is Careers in Student Affairs Month (CSAM). While increased awareness of entry-points into the field are important to highlight, CSAM also serves as a way to discuss the larger culture of student affairs. Our pursuit of ensuring student affairs staff is representative of diversifying student demographics can’t come at the cost of health and well-being of staff. Add your voice to the conversation by using #CSAM17. Have ideas about a future series for the Student Affairs Collective? Contact Nathan Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org.