Reaching Out to Upper-Level Administrators

We talk extensively about finding mentors and sponsors in Higher Education. We each have that person that encouraged us to go into Higher Education, or that first supervisor that helped who we are as a professional. And along the way, we all have picked up a few people that we trust with our successes as well as our woes and struggles. And perhaps you have even become a mentor or sponsor to a budding professional. While these people are staples in our lives, I want to focus on the people we work with on a day-to-day basis.

I have been very fortunate to work in a department, and at an institution, that really exemplifies collaboration. And not just collaboration across the board, but collaboration from all levels of administrators. It is common to see our Directors of Departments across campus, and they never hesitate to confirm a calendar request for a meeting regarding a project or a casual lunch. While I was fortunate to come into this environment, I continue to reach out to these mid-level and senior-level administrators on a regular basis. And even though I am only one year out of graduate school, I work to reach out to new professionals and get them connected to the best of my abilities.

Beyond meetings about campus initiatives, I have attempted to connect with my colleagues on a personal level. I have coordinated a professional team for the cardboard races (student event) during Engineering Days and offered to join competitive relay race teams with professional staff members. Most recently, I ran a mud 10K with our Associate Dean of Students. It was my first mud run, and it was epic. While it was out of my comfort zone, I went for it. I encourage you to continue reaching out to upper-level administrators to build solid relationships. They may not be your immediate mentors, but they have gems they can share. Building personal relationships will make those working relationships more genuine and will help you in your everyday work, as well as when you decide to move up!

Make it a goal this week to reach out to someone whom you do not normally work with or talk to on a regular basis. Put yourself out there.

Katie Schmalzel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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