How to Keep the Good JuJu Flowing

By Mairead Kiernan

            As many of us are getting ready to start the year, a good portion of student affairs professionals are sitting in some kind of training session. Whether you’re in housing like me and doing two weeks of intense training, or maybe in another part of the field that is a little less intense, it’s a very busy season for all of us. I was talking to our student staff about how I maintain my cool and, now that they all know I blog, they suggested I provide my tips for this week’s post, so here they are:

Breathe. Last year was my first year and I felt like I always had to be going a mile a minute.  I came into a building team with two other people who had worked at Texas Tech before, and I felt like I was useless because though I knew how to do my job, I wasn’t 100% sure how to do the job at Tech. I got myself so strung up about it that I started to question if I was fit to work in this field. Finally my area director said, “BREATHE!” You know what you’re doing; we hired you for a reason, and really, just bask in being able to learn for now because once students start firing questions at you, it isn’t going to stop. When you feel like you might not be contributing at much, just remember that you are where you are for a reason, and there’s always a time to learn.

Do What You Love. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of training and opening and welcome and the start of classes and BAM! All of a sudden, it’s September. Take a moment to do what you love. For me, it’s cooking. It’s hard to try to cook when we’re training from 8am-9pm and all our meals are provided, but this is what keeps me calm.  Even if it’s just some scrambled eggs in the morning, I try to cook something every day during training because it allows me to clear my mind and calm myself before or after a long day.

Recreation Time. Taking time for recreation during training can be as rough as doing what you love when you’re so busy, but it’s critical. We sat all day in sessions yesterday and while I was dead tired, I went to trivia because I needed to do something to unwind. After I got home, I went on a walk around campus. These are little things that might not seem like much, but they help me to stay positive.

Do What You Can to Prepare, but Remain Flexible. While we get ready for opening, it’s easy to sit in the office until midnight or later every night trying to get ready for our students to come. I could do that, but even if I sit there every night, I will inevitably miss something and end up frustrated with myself during opening. Instead, I limit my time in the office while still accomplishing tasks, and in turn, I stay flexible opening weekend. I can’t prepare for every angry parent, crying younger sibling, or failing elevator, but I can do my best ahead of time to have everything else done in order to handle those issues as they inevitably pop up during opening weekend.

Now these are just the four things I do to keep my cool during the craziness that regular, non-SA, non-housing people call August. I recognize that these aren’t going to work for everyone, but I hope that maybe spelling these tools out for you all will resonate in some way. Happy August, everyone!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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