Are You a Member of a Council?

Last week I attended a professional development day conference at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). I got to catch up with some of the graduate students in their Higher Education Administration program. Over the course of the year we have been able to build a relationship with other graduate in group since we both have our respective graduate student organization that promotes professional development. Last spring we hosted them at our campus so that they could learn about Texas State University. Then, this past fall UT hosted us and we got to visit and get a feel for their campus. In both cases we were able to meet with the other’s campus Directors, Vice President of Student Affairs, and of course, other graduate students in Student Affairs. This site visit and networking opportunity is only one of the many ways our Graduate Student Affairs Council (GSAC) has helped me to develop myself professionally.

One of the other things GSAC does for graduate students is welcome event for the first years to meet the rest of the cohort and peers in the program. At the beginning of the semester we were invited to a retreat that allowed us to get to know the second years, do all the regular retreat stuff (challenges, ice breakers, you know the drill), and of course get more of our questions answered about the program. It was a great way to start the year off! 

Primarily we want to make sure we are working on professional development through webinars, invite guest speakers, or simply do round table discussions on hot topics during our meetings. Also, this is a great time for the group to inform one another on events and programs we are working on. It’s fabulous because it is a fast way to get volunteers for your program or spread the word to increase the attendance. This type of support is wonderful when you’ve worked so hard! Of course these meetings are also a nice time to catch up in general. When you have graduate school and an assistantship, relaxing and hanging out with your classmates can get a little complex. In addition, we have socials a few of times through the semester just to hang out! My favorites are the end of the semester socials where most everyone can attend and we play goofy games and have great homemade food from our host and amazing advisor, Latina! 

Like any other organization, we also host a number of fundraisers in order to cover the fees of the site visits, socials, recognition, and scholarships! We also offer our members an opportunity to earn scholarships for other professional development purposesJ. Some of our fundraisers include a golf tournament, bowl-a-thon, and a winter shop (we can’t call them auctions anymore).

Of course one other wonderful way this organization can help with professional development would be if you wanted to hold an officer position! We all know these types of roles can introduce you to a number of transferable skills.

While attending the Texas Association of College and Universities Student Personnel Association (or TACUSPA cause that’s way too much to say!) in the fall I met a number of graduate students from all over Texas. In discussing our programs, I discovered that not all Student Affairs Master programs have an organization like GSAC. I thought I would share this with y’all because I feel that it is a great way to network and continue to develop your skills even beyond your classroom experiences. If your campus has one, you may even be able to join as an undergraduate student (ours does this). If not take the initiative to create your own organization to get other graduate students involved while working on your master’s degree. Not only will it help you sharpen your tools, but it could be a way to meet your future employer! Good Luck!

Jenni with an “I”

Student Affairs - the First Years

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