For those of you that blog, remember that first posting? For those of you who do not, what would you put out there for the world to see?
Recently, I have had several conversations about my social media/digital communication/self-branding part of my student affairs professional experience. Being a first year graduate student, I never really gave much thought into putting my opinions and ideas out there for others to read in Student Affairs, especially not for those who know more about the subject than I do. What if my opinions were invalid? What if someone were to correct me? Well, that attitude did not get me anywhere. Guess what? Someone will always know more than me on any certain subject, and no one can correct an opinion. Finally, I ran out of excuses.
In my computer graphics courses at Purdue, the faculty were insistent about each student building their own online identity and branding themselves for the type of job the student would want in the future. Of course, computer graphics had to do with technology and that made sense to make your information accessible on technology for the employers to find you. Social media was a part of this process of “branding yourself.” The rule was to be present online, so that when an employer searched for your name, your work would appear on your Facebook account, your website, your Flickr, your LinkedIn profile, or anything else you could add your portfolio to. Having an online presence, believe it or not, will help you in the student affairs field as well. I am starting to find more ways to get involved and broaden my knowledge with online blogs, twitter, live videos, etc. We preach about developing the holistic student and fostering the learning that occurs in and outside the classroom for the undergraduate students that we work with everyday. What about ourselves (Graduates and Professional Staff)? How are we staying current and on the cutting edge of our profession?
I am learning so much about the student affairs field in my graduate courses now, but you can only take so many classes per semester and so many semesters in your timeline for the program. A program plan of study must limit the knowledge given to a student into certain categories that are siloed into certain courses. The information must be funneled even more into a curriculum for the program of study to be credible. How do you supplement your classroom/practical experience to learn about your specific interest and how to use your unique abilities in the student affairs field? You find it yourself! You read blog posts from other professionals in the field that have the same interests that you do. Learn how others schools are approaching areas of your interest without waiting to meet them at the next conference in a year. Watch videos/movies about how to strengthen your notable abilities for your profession. Maybe, you can find a way to connect your undergraduate degree to your current student affairs profession. You will never know until you start looking.
A former professor coined the term, “Graphics Guru.” This means that you must be aware of or know almost everything that has to do with computer graphics. You gained this wondrous title and knowledge by working at it everyday. Setting time aside each day to work on a project and learn a new technique or reading about the latest and greatest technology for your specific area in computer graphics. I think it is necessary for student affairs (SA) professionals to be, “SA Gurus,” and to know about the campus we represent, the functional area we represent, and our personal interests and abilities in our field. The SA Guru would know about the latest and greatest way to communicate with the students on their campus (and if that involves a new technology). The SA Guru would be a catalyst for change in their department for early adoption practices. The SA Guru would have a broader sense of the information that is out in the world to help with those daily hiccups we all run into. The SA Guru would be the go-to person in the office for their particular interests, abilities, and passions. For myself, being able to use technology in a way to gain more knowledge about my own profession is opening doors and helping me think creatively to solve problems in my day-to-day work.
I am new at the “branding yourself as an SA Guru.” So this is my stab at beginning a journey of becoming a searchable SA Guru with a wide variety of interests that employers and other professionals will be able to gain knowledge from. In the meantime, I challenge you to work on your own professional SA Guru plan. What does that look like for you?