The Student Affairs New Professional

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 34

Quote of the Day:
"There is only one road to human greatness: through the school of hard knocks."
- Albert Einstein

Training has started...yes, already. Thanks to the academic advising aspects of my position, I have to go through regular ResLife training as well as academic advising that makes our training program extra long. My roadtrip was FABULOUS and way too short and I'm having a hard time believing that the new year has already started....

But before we start talking about next year, let's look back at last year.
I've made it through my first year as a full-time professional. "Going pro" - as one of my friends from grad school liked to call it - was definitely a learning experience, but I have to say, it wasn't as different from being a grad student as I anticipated it to be. Yes, I had no more classwork to juggle with all my other responsibilities, but that extra time was quickly filled with other commitments. And while I definitely didn't spend as much time at home reading and writing papers, I still tried to pick up a Student Affairs related article here and there or I instead of papers I developed new initiatives and programs and wrote up proposals and things like that.

It definitely wasn't any less busy than grad school...but I had a little more control over what I was busy with and even how busy I was, as many of the things that took up much time were additional tasks I volunteered for. In other words, in grad school, you are forced to be a workaholic...after "going pro," you will still be busy and you will still be expected to do a lot of things, but you do have the option once in a while to say "no" (even though that's not always easy).

The main difference I noticed between grad school and being a professional was that I had a lot more autonomy in the decisions I made and a lot less guidance. I had to seek out help more actively instead of someone always looking over my shoulder. Partially, that may have just been a difference in supervisor's style between my grad assistantship supervisor and my coordinator here, but I think that also had a bit to do with me being a professional now. The help was still there, but I was also trusted to make decisions on my own.

"Going pro" wasn't all positive. I feel that it's been harder for me to maintain balance this past year than it was in grad school. You may think that's crazy, but let me explain. In grad school, I was at least forced to leaver work once in a while to go to a class or work on a project, write a paper or read. Even though that was still Student Affairs related, it was something different than work.
Now, I work and then I work and then I work some more. I am single and I don't have that many friends in this area, so there is really no reason to leave my office ever. Or when I'm sitting in my living room watching TV, it's very easy to pull out the laptop and work on some project or check e-mails or whatever else it may be that day.

I also miss having those "intellectual" conversations. Yes, I am a dork...haha. No, seriously though: I try to read professional literature once in a while, but since I don't have to, I just don't often get around to it. In our office, we sometimes have conversations about different topics, but we all get so caught up in the day-to-day work that it's hard to find time. So I really really sitting in my grad class around that conference table and talking about various current issues, things that were going on in our assistantships and so on.

Okay, I'm off to dinner at our director's house, but I still have some more things to say, so I will continue my little reflection about my first year as a professional later.

"To be continued..."


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