Taking Professional Development Into My Own Hands

This past week, Student Affairs – the First Years launched an amazing campaign across Twitter (@safirstyears) and later on Facebook to notify those interested in Student Affairs the importance of sharing stories, words of wisdom regarding the profession, and lessons learned. When I was asked to be a guest writer for this blog a few weeks ago, I couldn’t say no. Then, just as Josh Wilson had predicted, I asked to be a regular writer for this blog. While I have not been in this profession for long, I can already tell agreeing to write for this blog was one of the best decisions I have made professionally.

Besides already connecting with the other SAFirstYear writers through social media and email, it has really helped me become more aware of my personal professional development. Let me explain.

The institution I currently work at is part of the Business and Finance division, not the Student Affairs division. While many other institutions are struggling to find professional development funds for those employed in the Student Affairs department, my current institution is also struggling to understand the benefits of professional development funds. To make this story even shorter, the Resident Directors working in the Housing and Res Life Department currently do not have any professional development funds. We have since made do with what we have and found ways for our department to grow professionally.

As the fall semester of 2011 started, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to rely on my institution for more than the regular “duties as assigned” professional development. I took this and ran with it. A coworker of mine is the current New Mexico Membership Representative for NASPA, and attended the NASPA Region IV-West conference in October. He knew of my interest in working with student veterans, he collected information on the newly available Region IV-W Veterans Knowledge Community Representative position, and sent information my way. Within a week I had applied, and a week later, found out I had received the position. Boy was I excited! It was then that I realized that I had to take as many chances as possible if it would help me advance in the realm of Student Affairs.

This week when this blog launched, I suddenly felt a drive to really utilize Twitter as a tool to communicate and link up with other Student Affairs professionals. Sure, I had used the #sachat and #studentaffairs hashtag before, but it had never really been utilized in the best way possible. After seeing a multitude of tweets from Eric Stoller’s chat at Ball State University all over my Twitter, I decided to make a few changes. I made my profile public, I followed more people that I knew were Student Affairs social media pros, and I reached out to those I had been interested in connecting with. The more I did this, the more I realized how much I had to share, and how much I could gain from others, just in 140 characters or less. This was my own personal professional development and it was awesome! And free! It was also wonderful seeing the other writers for this blog connect through emails, and share well wishes and congratulations when we have only been introduced to each other through the short blog entries online.

Professional development opportunities vary depending on your department, institution, region, and everything in between. Making professional development a personal goal is rewarding and awesome. As much as I use to hate relying on technology to connect with people, I will now admit it is a great place to at least start. This profession is all about networking, sharing resources, and knowing people all over the country. Who knows where it could take you or who could meet? Oh, the things we can learn from each other!

*Just a warning- after NASPA 2012 in a month and a half, I can almost guarantee there will be a Part II of this post. NASPA Tweet-Up here I come!*

Katie Ericson

Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. Love the twitter shout out! It's true: connecting with other SA Pros intentionally makes a difference!


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