First GatorNights

by Joshua Wilson

This week is the first time I’ll experience first-hand “GatorNights” the University of Florida’s premiere late night program. I’m excited to see for myself how the program works for students and the Union. 

Here recently reflecting on my transition I can sum up my experience in past, present, and future. Past, or step one, I was in the early stage of determining “fit.” I’m happy to report that Florida has proved to be a good fit for me. My present day experiences with the programs I oversee lead into step two, soaking in the formula. Florida is different than Notre Dame which is different than Ball State and UAB. I enjoy learning new processes, I have been all down for learning the way Florida operates. Yet, the vision that I have for the programs and services I oversee will incur change overtime as I set new goals and help the program push forward. Step three, looking forward, change takes time. All that I learn over the next year will only help connect me to the vision that I have here at the University. It will be a bond that can only strengthen over time.

Step 1: Interviewing – Matching Visions

My vision needed to match the University’s vision for the program. And if the dreams I sought for this late night program didn’t exactly match, what were the areas of compromise. I also understood that there was information about the University I would not be able to grasp or know to grasp until I could start and experience the role that I have as a program coordinator.

Step 2: Soaking in the Formula

Unless one is starting in a newly created position, there was a formula for how the organization operated before I started. I am a strong believer that you have know where you have been before you know where you can go. For me recently for the services and programs I oversee it’s learning the University’s processes and it’s formulas for operation. For example, I recently started a budget proposal for this fiscal year. In managing finances there were University pieces I needed in formulating a budget that meets the University’s needs, but there was also room for improvements on the design.

Step 3: Change Takes Time

For you seasoned student affairs professionals, we first-years are often observing the decisions you make, the questions you ask, and how you make certain decisions. One of the student affairs professionals I consider a mentor transitioned to a new job a few years ago and in following up with him we had a great conversation on the importance of making the small changes where possible but using the first year to understand the current model, earn the trust of peers, and move to make changes after that time. Although I have a grand vision for where I see he programs and services I oversee I also will not be making grand changes immediately. Also, extending time will provide a better opportunity to make a proper case for change.

What’s your vision for your journey?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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