Journel entry #1- Let the challenges begin
I’ve been in San Jose for a little over two weeks now. I’m finally getting used to the endless sunny days that have escaped me during my time in Oregon. I am also adjusting to living on campus again. I’m proud to say that I haven’t locked myself out of my room yet, forgetting my key in the middle of the night is still a source of paranoia for me and I finally invested in a robe, which makes the communal shower thing a little more bare able. Adjusting to my new responsibilities as a San Jose State University (SJSU) staff member has been a slower process and one that I’m sure will last throughout the entire summer.
One of the greatest challenges for me has been realizing that I really didn’t do a good job of researching SJSU before I got here. Granted I had approximately 48 hours to decide on whether or not to take the job after it was offered to me, but coming in I didn’t know it was a largely communter campus; I didn’t know that it was located right on the edge of downtown San Jose; I didn’t know that they are in the process of acquiring a new president; and I didn’t know what the campus culture was in regards to student affairs work. Given that I am only here for three months, I am fairly certain that none of these things would have prevented me from taking this position, however, when I search for jobs next year I will be far more thorough in my research. Things I will be playing special attention to include location, whether or not the campus has a strong residential population, how long upper management have been in their positions/what’s the turnover rate like, and what types (if any) of working relationships are there between academic and student affairs departments on campus.
Another challenge has been transitioning into my role as a professional staff member. One of my responsibilities is to help supervise and advise orientation advisers. All of these students have attended SJSU, they all took a semester long class in the spring to introduce them to the program and their roles within it and many are in their second year working for orientation. In other words, they know a heck of a lot more than I do about what it’s like to be a SJSU student and most know more than I do about the program I’m supposed to be helping to run. In some respects, this scenario is quite daunting and I won’t say that I’m not a bit intimidated by it, but I’m here and I might as well grow from the experience.
First off, it is important that I recognize that while these students have a better handle on SJSU and this orientation program, I have a whole year of graduate school under my belt and that’s worth something. I have a thorough understanding of why orientations exist in the first place-to ease the transition from high school to college, to welcome incoming students into a brand new community and impart on them the rules and expectations of them as new students, to increase retention rates and to get students plugged in to the various support systems available to them on campus. I understand trends within orientation programs and the reasons that they exist. Most importantly I know about a variety of different challenges that first year students face and how orientation can help them find support to overcomes these difficulties. For me the key becomes putting my knowledge to the test and helping to impart this knowledge of the student staff in a way that makes them even better at the work they do.