Taking On The First SA Challenge-And Diggin’ It!

When I recently was discussing this blog with the one and only Joshua Wilson, we discussed how to make it a little more exciting and even more useful for Student Affairs professionals. Mr. Wilson came up with the grand idea of creating challenges, relating to the SA “season” it may be, or the posts recently written. I thought this is a great idea! Just one thing- it’s always easy to read a challenge, but much harder to keep yourself accountable to that challenge. Or maybe it’s just me…

So while I was at NASPA last week, I saw the first challenge posted on the website! Hoorah! Now, to just do it. I was happy that the first challenge was connecting with those we had made contact with while at a recent conference. Awesome. This worked out well, mainly due to the collection of business cards I had collected during hours of regional and knowledge community meetings. Add on top of that sessions I attended, random meet-ups with friends of colleagues, and the multiple receptions a night that fellow blogger Amber Phillips and I dashed hotel to hotel and back (and then back again) to attend.

While it was easy for me to “get in the zone” of meeting people, and pulling my old friend ‘extrovert Katie’ out for a few days, this was overly exhausting. I have realized as I have gotten older that I am becoming more of an introvert. When I told my dear friend from undergrad this at NASPA, she turned to me with a shocked look on her face and simply laughed. “You? Of all people I would never have guessed you would be an introvert!” She would know this best due to the hours of extrovert vs. introvert exercises we did as Orientation Leaders.

But NASPA, along with many of the conferences that we attend as student affairs professionals, are huge (gigantic, really!) conferences, and attending can include a lot of people, sessions, receptions, regional meetings, and maybe a run to In N Out Burger, if you are lucky. #NASPA12win, right Amber Phillips? And while it’s great to get out there and meet those also attending conferences and in our profession, I learned after two fully powered days it’s okay to step back for a little bit and just take it in. It’s easy to get burned out in our profession, whether that’s due to a lack of “work/life balance,” or over commitment at a conference.

Okay, so what does this have to do with the challenge you may ask? Well, Amber and I would sometimes play a little game called “Who can get business cards?” while attending sessions/meetings/receptions/random interactions. While this may not sound like the most professional idea, I know that it really helped me keep pushing myself to meet others when I just wanted to retreat and people watch from a far. There were many people that I met that had been to sessions I hadn’t been able to attend that wanted to send me their notes. I made friends with those on the regional board with me that I will be communicating with greatly in the next two years in my regional position. I was able to share information and resources with those in the Veterans Knowledge Community that I cannot wait to relay back to my region.

And now that I have their contact information, I am able to stay in touch with them. I cannot wait to see where this takes my professional development! Due to the slow pace that Spring Break brings to our campus, I was able to connect with many of those I had met at NASPA the past few days and have already received great feedback! Did you collect business cards/emails/Twitter handles recently at a conference? Shoot an email, tweet, message by pigeon, whatever it takes, to just say hi and connect about anything! Everyone loves a new friend.

Challenge #1: Success

Katie Ericson

Student Affairs - the First Years

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