Finding My Place

5K race with best friend
and colleague on campus

Golden Young Professionals BBQ 
I officially celebrated my 1-year anniversary of being in Colorado about two weeks ago. It’s great to know I have a year of experience to bring into next academic year. Not only is it professional experience that I have celebrated, but it’s the connections I have made over the past year that I celebrate and cherish as well. I know I have written about connections and connecting a few times, but I would like to take a different twist for this post. 

When I first moved to Colorado, I did so for the job. I knew limited people out here: no family, 
and less than a handful of friends. There was only one other professional live-on staff member (also new), so I spent a lot of time by myself last summer. Usually when I tell people this, I receive pity looks or “Awwwee.” But I honestly didn’t mind it. There’s something soothing about being content with alone time, even if it’s more time than you are used to. I am also quite the extrovert, so people are generally shocked by my response of satisfaction to their initial reaction of pity. And while I find fulfillment in doing things solo that make me happy, I also find great joy in connecting with others. (As I am sure many readers can relate: we are in Student Affairs for goodness sake.) 

After one year, though, I feel like I have found my place: on-campus and in the local community. I  
      spent time building relationships with colleagues, many of whom I now consider friends. I got   involved with the local community and joined my local Young Professionals organization. I also joined a few meet-up groups (including Denver Karaoke Lovers) and got matched with a Little Sister through Big Brother Big Sisters. All of these have ensured that my social calendar is budding, which, of course, I love. It is great to have people I trust and adore surrounding my on a daily basis. 
My Cornhole League Team 

Following the twitter feed fueled my need to write about my journey. I have seen so many friends transition   from graduate school to their first professional job in places they know very few other people. I know they were all prepared for their new roles, professionally speaking. But I also know moving to a new place where no one really knows who you are can, at times, be emotionally taxing. All I can say is: 

· Continue to reach out. 
· Do something new.
· Join a new group.
· Ask to be on campus wide committees.
· Do what you enjoy, and you’ll find others who enjoy those same things.

Building a network does not happen in a day or a week or a month. But over time, I hope all of the new Student Affairs professionals will feel just (or more) at home at their new institution as they did at their past.

Katie Schmalzel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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