October is not only great thanks to fall foliage, pumpkin carving, and apple cider but also because it’s Careers in Student Affairs Month!
Careers in Student Affairs Month (aka CSAM) is a great time to recognize the student support service work we do as a field, highlight colleagues who go above and beyond their job descriptions, and share our passion for student advocacy.
But with the pandemic causing widespread turmoil and uncertainty, you may be wondering, “how can I celebrate Careers in Student Affairs Month virtually?”
Read on as l dive into how you can spread gratitude and love for the profession in ways beyond the traditional in-person methods.
Besides giving ourselves well-deserved pats on our backs for persevering through hectic transitions, there are so many more positive aspects of celebrating our field:
Recruitment and awareness
Social media posts about CSAM shared with friends, family, and professional acquaintances may lead to conversations about student affairs with people who were previously unfamiliar with the field. Additionally, it may excite future student affairs professionals to join in on the innovative work and gratitude.
Creating a culture of positivity
CSAM can be an opportunity to recognize the hard work being done by individual professionals and entire departments, creating a culture of positivity across campus.
Recruitment and retention within your department and the field
Research has shown that workplaces with highly effective recognition programs have a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate, which suggests that honoring each other’s hard work may lead to less people leaving their departments (or the field as a whole).
Professional associations frequently take the lead in celebrating CSAM.
Here are what some top student affairs associations have in store this year:
- NASPA: Free webcasts and discount books based on the theme “Transformation of Higher Education and Student Affairs”
- ACPA: Membership discounts, hashtags, and Facebook frames
- NACA: “Share Your Story” social media challenge
Regional organizations may also act as branches of the national association’s lead on the celebrations, so don’t forget to engage with those this month, too.
There are many great ways to do so! These particular methods are most applicable for working from home or maintaining social distancing within your campus office.
- Encourage your department to share their personal student affairs stories through blogs, social media posts, or simply by talking to their friends and family members.
- Talk to an undergraduate student who has expressed interest in pursuing a student affairs career. Discuss support programs such as the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP), community support spaces, and the Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow Institute (SALT).
- Host an event on careers in student affairs (Lewis & Clark University held a seminar specific to summer internships).
- Buy a graduate student a coffee, tea, or other token of gratitude .
- Attend or host a webinar on your passion area within student affairs.
- Sign up for a virtual conference or webinar.
- Interact with student affairs social media groups or CSAM account takeovers. (NASPA Region VI has lots of surprise guests taking over their Twitter account this month.)
- Catch up with a former coworker who has moved onto another institution or department.
- Update your LinkedIn profile.
- Talk to your career center about how they can promote careers in student affairs to exploratory students (George Mason University even has a webpage for students interested).
- Donate to a professional association’s future practitioners scholarship fund.
- Write a thank-you note or an appreciative email to a colleague or student support staff. As a bonus, think outside of the box when recognizing others.
- Catch up on student affairs news and op-eds through a variety of news sources such as The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, or the Presence blog.
- Take the time to learn about other functional areas in student affairs outside of your own by talking with colleagues or hosting an informational interview over lunch.
- Nominate a stellar colleague for a regional or national award.
- Encourage your institution to highlight student affairs professionals on your campus through marketing and social media accounts. You can also do so on your own department’s accounts like the University of South Carolina did for their graduate program.
There is no perfect way to celebrate Careers in Student Affairs Month; what really matters is that you took the time to honor your own hard work (and that of your peers) in the first place. By commending outstanding professionals, departments, and even institutions, you are recognizing the diligent efforts they are putting forth and empowering the field to continue our great work.
Happy Careers in Student Affairs Month! We’d love to celebrate with you. Connect with us on Twitter @HelloPresence.