To me, it is so important that I continue to learn, grow, and develop as a professional after I leave the CSSA program. This is why one of my criteria for choosing a position is the value that the institution and the department places on professional development. This value can be exhibited by the resources they make available to employees to enable them to continue learning, including funding to attend conferences, time to participate on institutional committees, as well as internal departmental retreats to share learning among colleagues.
While in the CSSA program, I attended three conferences, NASPA Regional Conference in Hawaii, NACADA Regional Conference in Portland, and the Oregon Women in Higher Education Conference, and I learned so much at each, injecting new life into my work and development as a professional. I find it valuable to be able to connect with colleagues across campuses to share ideas and information. I want to keep attending conferences in my future professional life, share my learning and insight through presenting at conferences, and participate in regional organizations as a committee and board member to get even more involved.
Within my institution, I hope I am able to get involved with institutional committee work, helping to write policy, design university wide programming, and collaborate with both student and academic affairs. I know that this kind of work will be immensely fruitful for me and my learning. I also plan to continue writing, as it is something I enjoy, and employing my writing is a way of learning for me. Publishing my work in national journals for others to read would be wonderful, and I hope to continue working toward this goal. Currently, I have a theoretical piece on affirmative action in the external review process at a prominent journal for graduate student scholars, and I hope to hear soon that I will be published as a theorist and researcher in education.
I need to keep learning. If I’m not learning, I feel stagnant and stationary; I feel stuck. Therefore, it is important to me that when I reach a point in a position where I feel I’m no longer able to learn within my work, I will begin to investigate moving on to another challenge. But there are so many ways to continue learning and understanding more about the students I serve and the issues that impact them. I keep up with current events through various publications, including the New York Times and The Week, so I know what political and legal news may effect students. I read various higher education journals, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, about what experts are discussing within higher education around the country. I keep my pulse on career and employment issues that can affect why students choose the programs and institutions they choose through reading blogs and staying in touch with labor statistics. I keep learning about the various cultures of the students I serve by attending events and participating in activities that foster learning on my campus and in my community. I read and write and talk to others so that I know what I need to know and what I might need to know.
But it is overwhelming; there is so much to know! I doubt I will ever know it all. What I can do is to continue to identify those areas of interest specifically for me, those that truly motivate and excite me, so I continue to be passionate about my learning and my development as a professional throughout my career.