Finding the I in Fit

by Tolu Taiwo
@Tolu_Aderonke

When you start to interview for student affairs grad schools, something you’ll hear a lot (besides the ever-true mantra that “student affairs is a large field”) is “fit.” Usually, and current grad students will talk about it in the context of the school itself, and will tell tales of how they knew the program was their best, or how they came to the conclusion that university such and such or so and so college was NOT going to be the best place for them. 

Fit. It’s a word I rigorously applied to my process when I started looking over my options in early March. Among the flow charts, “pros and cons” list, bulleted post-it notes, and frantic calls to my advisors and mom, in the back of my head, I knew Colorado State was my school. But one thing I neglected to think about was how the assistantship would be my “perfect fit” as well. Don’t get me wrong: I was more than thrilled when I got the call that I would be the new Residence Education and Leadership GA; in fact, it was one of my top choices. But I was a bit nervous. Coming from a student affairs background, I’ve dabbled in everything—except residence life. Was I really the best choice for this assistantship? Should I have stuck to what I knew? Only time will tell, I thought, and braced my excited but anxious for my July 8 start date.

I have gone through a week at my new job, and I’ve already picked up a lot of advising skills, started leadership theory training, and planning education initiatives in the residence halls. But what I’ve learned the most is how assistantship fit actually comes into play. I look my two supervisors—the fun, energetic Teresa and the off-the-wall, hilarious and knowledgeable Kyle—and I understand why I was picked for the job; these are my people! I had looked at the job description before (about a thousand times before my interview, and ten thousand times after), but it was only after I talked through my tasks with my supervisors that I understood the “why me” concept. I get to advise a student board, plan events that connect faculty with res life, develop initiatives that help students academically, and potentially create a learning community. Trust me; I’m in heaven. Even though this is my first residence life job, it doesn’t matter. My skills, my personality, and my way of looking at life all fit with this assistantship. Just because it’s a bit of a new area for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

If you’re about to start interviewing for grad schools, the first step is to definitely make sure the program is right for you. But beyond that, look at ways the assistantship fits with who you are as well. Don’t focus so much on landing one that makes sense on paper; really pay attention to how the interview is going and the personalities that you’ll be working with. You may get one that corresponds with your past experience, you might get one that is a whole new ballgame, but at the end of the day, you’ll hopefully get the one that is right for you.

Current first and second years, when and how did you figure out your assistantship was your best fit?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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