Big Questions for Careers in Student Affairs Month

Happy October to all, and happy Careers in Student Affairs Month! This is a time of year, while its exciting and moving smoothly, it does make a little nervous?

I always relish the opportunity to explain my job to people, tell them about my path to the field, and to explore the interest of others in the work that we do. However, I find that I’m a little more hesitant to shepherd new people into the profession than some of my colleagues and peers. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people have such enthusiasm for our work- after all, it’s fun and we love our jobs! But I always have questions about how we do it...

How can you tell if someone is “right” for the work? And does it matter?
I’ve often had to explain to student leaders, frustrated with the attitudes of their volunteer base, that the motivations for involvement are different for each person choosing to work with us. Some volunteer with hopes of ascending to leadership positions, others like being involved just on a volunteer level, and still others will work to have a line on their resume. You can’t just choose those who are motivated for the same reasons as you- if they can do the work, you can use their help.
Does that apply for professional work as well? I’m always hesitant to encourage students to enter the field if I can tell they’re scared to leave college and see this as a way to not leave, or for those who see a Student Affairs career as an extension of their student leadership role. I wrote about it in greater detail here around this time last year. But is it for me to make that call? Does the motivation behind the work matter, if the work will get done and the students who are affected will be developed?

Are we building an echo chamber?
Since last year’s Careers in Student Affairs Month, a great deal of discussion has taken place around alternate forms of education,  credentials or certificates of Student Affairs  competency and massive open online courseware being two of those. But I think a big question to ask is, are we as welcoming and inclusive as we advise our students to be? The beauty of Student Affairs is that it is comprised of so many different areas,that can appreciate so many different competencies, that we could use the talents of many different types of people.
And yet we are hurtling rapidly toward a situation where a Master’s of Education is the standard, in some ways hindering that diversity of thought and opinion. There is tremendous value in many other fields of study (business, retail management, human resources, leisure management, etc.) that we could be missing by being so stringent to a standard. Hmmm...

Does this time of year bring about any questions for you? How are you facilitating dialogue about Careers in Student Affairs Month on your campus?

Amma Marfo

Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. Great questions. I think we do get to help determine who will be in the field in the future, that's our responsibility. Even if we do not intentionally do it, we are choose which students we help navigate that part of their lives and we determine the level of involvement from our end.

    I guess my question would be why did we choose a career in Student Affairs. We have to ask ourselves that first.


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