Careers in Student Affairs Month – My Advice to Those Hoping to ‘Get In’

Did you know that October was officially Careers in Student Affairs Month?

I didn’t until I came across a couple of tweets which led me to this site organized by NASPA.  It is an interesting site and I’d suggest that you explore the links on the side with the proviso that some of the language and structures cited are American.

For more local content, Kate Kinesella (@KateMcGK) has organized an excellent series profiling student affairs professionals on the OACUHO (Ontario Association of College & University Housing Officers) blog.  Most of the people are from Ontario, are involved in the housing/residence life area and there are some real pearls of wisdom in this series.  What is also striking is that I don’t recall many other Canadian examples of a concentrated exploration on careers for student affairs.

This made me think about how intentional we are in engaging students in our careers and how we are structuring this engagement to assist them in their aspirations to be a student affairs professional in Canada.  I keep referencing the Canadian context because there exists The Placement Exchange for American schools which is a one-stop shop that links candidates to employers and is often linked to a graduate school program (really, check it out and be amazed).  From what I’ve noticed, there has been a steady growth in peer-based programming as a model across a number of disciplines (e.g. residence life being the standard bearer but also leadership, health education etc).  This has enhanced awareness that hey, people can actually do this stimulating, meaningful and rewarding work for a living.  

The challenge is making the leap.

A reality for most Canadian schools is that they are unionized environments meaning most of the entry-level jobs are posted internally before they can go external.  How does an eager, engaged, new graduate land one of those coveted positions in an era of budget cutbacks, internships and bumping?

There are three approaches I advise people hoping to ‘get in’

1) Apply for and accept contract positions – they are a great gateway and can lead to permanent jobs.

2) Apply for a position that may not be in the student affairs field but will allow you to develop your transferable skill set and give you posting rights.

Short term recruitment officer contracts are a great entry point.

3)  To complement the first two points, network, develop your personal brand via twitter, ask professionals out for coffee to engage them, identify/pursue graduate school options and actively contribute to this amazing profession in your own way.

What advice would you give to those who want a career in student affairs?  What would it take for a Placement Exchange to exist in Canada?





Building Bridges Across Professional Pillars – A Practical Approach

  If you’re reading this post, then likely you are aware of the work that Dr. Tricia Seifert and her team at OISE is doing researching post-secondary structures and services to see how they support student success.  They have an insightful  blog here that I would suggest as a required reading for those in Canadian…

CACUSS 2012 – Report on the Annual Conference

(note, this post was first submitted to Academica as a guest post which you can see here) “What are we doing to break the vicious cycle of the Age of Whatever?” asked Dr. Michael Wesch during his opening keynote at the annual conference for the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services (CACUSS) in Niagara, Ontario from June 10 to…

CACUSS 2012 Storify’d

Recap of the first day of CACUSS 2012 at Brock University. Focus on pre-conference, reception, and bon fire at Alphie’s!

5 Top Reasons to Bring TEDx to Your University

(I first posted this at the TEDxBlog here) As many TEDx organizers can attest, seeing your event’s videos go up on the TEDxTalks YouTube channel is a magical feeling.  After months of preparation leading up to your event day, and afterwards getting through the post-event burnout, having the videos live and seeing how your community…

TED ED – Radical Openness For Learning

  At the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, Chris Anderson was greeted as a rockstar by the 650+ attendees.  And as the co-curator for  TEDxYorkU I was excited to be one of them.  As he welcomed organisers from over 90 countries he noted the energy and growth that the TEDx program has seen.  This explosion of…

Co-Curricular Records Part 3: Learning Outcomes & Statements

Welcome back! After a bit of a break (also known as starting a brand new job  that has kept me busy and  will likely mean more posts on assessment) let’s get back to this series.  So far, we’ve discussed the demand for co-curricular records (CCRs) and provided an overview of the development options including external vendor…

Canadian Klout – Top 10 Influencial Schools – Round 2

When I last looked at how Canadian post-secondary schools ranked on Klout, there was widespread interest, feedback and even a bit of controversy. Since then, Klout has further refined their algorithm which generated its own controversy.   With the change, they also added additional functionality of their application, which is part of an ongoing trend as you…

Co-Curricular Records Part 2: Systems Review

In part 1, I outlined the rationale behind the development of co-curricular records (CCRs).  For part 2, let’s take a look at the various system options you have, plus pros and cons from my perspective and examples from campuses that are using the various platforms (if you are reading this, and have a CCR at your…

Co-Curricular Records Part 1 (CCR, not just a band)

It’s late October and Charlie, a 3rd year psychology major begins his week by looking at what he has to accomplish.  There are his classes (happily, most are hits, but one is a definite miss) his group project work, research for a paper due next week, plus a couple of four shifts for his workstudy…

About aims to encourage a dialogue and examination of Canadian student affairs related issues and trendsInterested? Read more »