New Kid on the Block

by Jimmy Kelly
@jimmy3_k

Hey Gang!  So I’m the new guy on the blog, and I’m super pumped to be writing, sharing stories, and reflecting on my experiences as a new student affairs professional.  To provide you all with a little background about myself, I am a (relatively) new professional at Stetson University where I am the Assistant Director for Wellness & Recreation.  Stetson, for those of you who don’t know, is a small, private liberal arts institution located in Deland, FL.  I want to share you all my story for how I became involved in student affairs to provide you with some perspective for my posts.

Flashback 6 years ago and you’ll see a tall, slim, semi-goofy kid applying for his first true job in college as a Resident Assistant at the University of South Florida.  For some reason, somebody saw potential in me and fortunately my career path began without me even knowing it.  I loved working as an RA (you know aside from that thing called Duty).  It was fun, it was social, I was surrounded by energetic people who enjoyed one another and enjoyed having a great time.  During my junior year, and after a few weeks of research and conversations with my supervisor, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Student Affairs.  As many of you may attest to, my parents, family, and friends just couldn’t grasp this career field; my uncle joked saying I had the right plan – to continue living the fast and easy college life, sounded pretty good to him!  I sought various graduate assistantships at a handful of institutions the next year; I eventually committed to attend the University of Central Florida around the middle of the summer – without an assistantship.  Gasp!  I know, it wasn’t an easy decision, but late semester health issues and other circumstances make for a whole other story for a different day.   

Grad school definitely wasn’t an easy transition, my cohort-mates all seemed to be more familiar with the school and all had these experiences they could relate to the coursework; I felt as though I was being left behind already.  September rolled around and there were still no assistantships available until late in the month when an assistantship in Fraternity and Sorority Life popped up.  It’s important to know that I was not Greek during my undergrad, so at the time it felt as though I was really stepping out of my comfort zone.  I applied and went through the interview process and I was fortunate enough to receive the position.  It truly was a great experience, and one that I’ll never forget – it definitely re-shaped my perspective on Greek Life as a whole and provided me with a well-rounded experience, a supervisor that cared about me as both a person and a professional, and opportunities to work with some awesome students.  Also during my program, I did my practicum at Stetson University in Wellness & Recreation, an experience that paved the way to my current professional position, and my internship in the Rec and Wellness Center at UCF. I studied hard, assimilated into the new culture at the university, and passed my comprehensive exam with flying colors.  

My job search proved to be a trying time.  I was seeking a position in campus recreation, without having definitive experience in the field.  I attended NIRSA and the Career Opportunities Center (their TPE) and left empty-handed and frustrated.  I began applying for positions outside campus rec hoping that I would end up in the right place.  Then my practicum supervisor forwarded me a position description in Wellness & Recreation and I became so excited at the possibility of returning to Stetson.  I sincerely tried to keep my emotions in check and tried not to get over-hopeful in the event this position fell by the way-side like the rest.  Luckily, I went through the interview process and emerged victorious!

So now I sit here today writing to you from my office with a lovely window view as the Assistant Director for Wellness and Recreation.  It is an area and institution that directly aligns with my personal values and one that shaped my career as a whole.   We'll dig deeper into responsibilities, values, thoughts, and ideas in future posts; for now I'll leave you with my story.  I love hearing people's stories, they refreshes and reminds me why I wanted to join the field in the first place.  I'd love to hear some your stories, comment or tweet me some!

With all that said, I am super pumped to be sharing my thoughts and experiences on my journey through my first years as a Student Affairs professional.  I hope I can offer a unique perspective and can create stimulating thoughts and conversations through my posts.  See ya next time!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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