If you’ve read any of my #SACareer blog posts before, you may recognize that I’m at a pivotal (and exciting!) time in my career. I’ve written on organizational change and what I’ve learned in my first five years, describing milestones including my first major job change and my first promotion. One milestone I’m especially proud of was my first supervisory experience.
While at my previous institution I had the opportunity to develop and manage a peer educator program for our Career Development office. It was an empowering opportunity to develop my skills as a supervisor while adding a valuable program to our office. Here are a few highlights of what I learned:
1. It’s ok to take a chance on students. When interviewing for the position there were some third and fourth year students that were a shoe in – they were articulate, well respected and clearly capable. However, there were some that were not nearly as polished. These were the students that I could not wait to hire. I knew with a little guidance they could flourish. I also knew that they was going to take far more of my time than those who were polished and poised, so there had to be a balance. In the end, those who took a little extra guidance turned out to be some of our best peer educators we had. Even after leaving the institution, I still have strong bonds with them and I am so proud of what they’re achieved. I feel grateful to have been a small part of their development.
2. Know that not every chance pays off. On the flip side, there were some students – both (seemingly) polished and not – that just didn’t end up being where we wanted them to be. Some quit before they even began and others just did not rise to the occasion. While this was a learning opportunity for them, it was even more of an opportunity for me. Looking back, I know there were things I could have done differently to help them get to the next level. More steady one-on-one meetings and ongoing trainings would have helped. While it was a struggle for me to not have things turn out as I had hoped, it was an important lesson in supervision and great knowledge for me to take forward.
3.Working around student schedules is tough! Supervising multiple students took a lot of patience and flexibility especially when it came to scheduling trainings and meetings. I’ll be honest; many times our one-one-ones took a back seat. As I mentioned before, offering guidance to and checking in with students is key to the success of a student and peer educator program. Realizing the importance of these consistent check in is something I wish I would have recognized earlier. While the program was a success in its first year, I recognize there was more I could have done to continue developing students individually.
Overall, I was pleased with the way the program turned out in my first year as a supervisor. However, I learned several lessons about taking chances and developing my student staff that I will take with me into my next supervisory role. What tips do you have for supervising students? Tell us in the comments section below.
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’sintro 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.