Lessons from my first semester

by Lisa Hilll

I am nine workdays away from the end of my first semester at Towson University.  I accepted my position just before the fourth of July and this weekend is the first snowfall of winter.  My students are spending this snowy December weekend studying for finals and I am taking time reflecting on my first semester at TU.

My semester has been filled with more highs than lows.  The job description is exactly what I hoped for; my coworkers are supportive and enjoy each other’s company; and the students motivate me to develop professionally.  Mid semester I hit a low and felt as if I was wandering aimlessly, with no professional goals.  View my earlier post, I Got the Job, Now What, for more on my mid semester challenges.

There were many times during the semester when I was proud of my work and felt that I was growing from a grad into my new role as a professional.  I balanced multiple programs and organizations at the same time where as in grad school I was focused on one or two.  At other points, I was dissatisfied with my performance and didn’t meet my own expectations.  I hoped to spend more time and develop deeper relationships with the students in the residential learning community.  I also wish that I offered a wider variety of programming.

I’ve been reminded by my current supervisor and by mentors that I am still in a new professional and it is ok to not be completely satisfied.  My new office didn’t expect me to start working at the same level as the previous employee who had been in her role for nearly five years.  It was expected that I would ask questions and to take time to get comfortable in my position.  Five months later, I am still learning my new institution, programs, and responsibilities.  What is more important at this point is to reflect upon the semester and make a plan to improve.  What matters right now is that I don’t settle or get discouraged.

After a snowy weekend filled with hot beverages and even some reflection, I am motivated to make changes for next semester.  I will use the last nine days of this semester as an opportunity to start obtaining my goals for the spring.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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