UESP Internship

Those Who Are Bold Enough to Say “I’m Exploring”

Posted on March 24, 2009. Filed under: UESP Internship |

One of the greatest challenges when advising UESP students is maintaining a working knowledge of so many major and college requirements, the logistics of transferring, and the various ways in which a student can go about exploring various majors and careers. I know that advising students who have declared a major has its own perils and requires a much more thorough understanding of specific majors, minors, internship programs, learning communities, you name it and I am by no regard discounting or minimizing these efforts. However, I will admit that I early on, I thought advising in a college might be easier and therefore was contemplating focusing on these types of advising positions within the job search.

What has ultimately swung the pendulum back in the UESP students favor, or at least balanced everything out again, is my respect for students who are bold enough to admit that they are exploring. I for one was unable to do so and stayed in a major that did not fit my interests or strengths as a result. I believe that my undergraduate experience would have been far more enriching if I had been willing to admit that my original major choice was not based on a thoughtful or thorough analysis or if I had been willing to enlist the help of an advisor in exploring different pathways. Instead I explored on my own, mostly through random courses that did not provide a good avenue for learning more majors I was considering and after becoming frustrated with what seemed like a losing process resolved myself to simply get my diploma as fast as I could.  It is because of this personal history that I am truly inspired by those students who come into college so open to learn, so passionate about many subjects, so uncertain but trusting of the exploration process. While I may end up advising for many different academic disciplines and  students in many stages of their major and career decision making process during my career, I will continue supporting and facilitating the exploration process in whatever ways I can.

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Time Crunch+Pride=Lessons Learned

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: UESP Internship |

The greatest challenge that I faced when I started my UESP internship was adjusting from one-hour conduct appointments to the 30 minute advising appointments. Having had two terms to reflect upon this challenge, I can safely say that I am slowly but surely getting better at managing the limited time I have with students in advising appointments, but it is still a struggle.

I attribute a large part of the challenge to the fact that so far I have only advised for four hours a week during the later part of the term and therefore am in many ways still learning the ins and outs of OSU’s academic and registration systems. While I try to re-read and refresh my memory on many of the facts that I learned during my initial training period and keep up on any new information that comes my way, I have still found myself stumped by several of the questions that my students ask me and having to say “I don’t know, but I can get back to you” has been one of the hardest things for me to do. This experience has helped me realize that I still have a lot of work to do on feeling confident enough in my own abilities to admit when I don’t know something. I still feel a loss of pride and self-confidence when I have to ask for help and I know that is something I will have to work on and improve upon in order to be a leader in student affairs.

Through my advising experience I have come to realize several things related to this personal struggle. First of all, when I don’t ask questions, when I put my pride before everything else I not only compromise my performance, but I compromise the quality of my students’ advising and for me that is simply unacceptable. I see this playing out in many other situations as well. If I am unwilling to ask questions in staff meetings or in the classroom, then I am denying my co-workers and classmates a different angle for seeing the issues we are discussing. Secondly, I have come to see the phrase “I don’t know” as a way to humanize the advising process, which can come across as mechanic and prescriptive at times. The students I advise need to know that I am not a computer, that I am not an expert on all things OSU; and that I can’t simply spout out the answers to all the questions they have. Which brings me to my last point (at least for now) surrounding this issue: saying “I don’t know, but I think we can find the answer if we look together” is a great way to empower students. I think that one of the most effective uses of my time during advising appointments is helping students learn to navigate the various information gathering tools available to them via the OSU website and publications. When a student has a question that I don’t know the answer to but I think can be found without taking up too much time, then we brainstorm and we look at different sites. We work together, the student driving the search for information that they need.

The balance between knowing enough information to keep an academic advising appointment at under 30 minutes and still find time to empower students and help them through the information gathering process will always be a struggle. Luckily I have developed an ability to see the silver lining, the teachable moment, in the struggle and that is a lens I hope to continuing developing.

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional

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