Paying it Forward

This past weekend I had the privilege to be involved in the Careers in Student Affairs event sponsored by MCPA (Minnesota College Personnel Association). I’ve belonged to MCPA for just over a year and I thought presenting at the Careers in Student Affairs event would be a way to do a bit more networking while simultaneously sharing my love and knowledge of student affairs with undergraduate students who are contemplating a profession in our field. Current professionals put together presentation sessions to help undergrads get a taste of what the field of student affairs is all about. This year’s event took place at Macalester College in St. Paul. Macalester is a small, private college and it was fun to take some time to walk around the campus after I was done with my duties for the day.

More often than not, if you ask a professional in the student affairs field how they got into the field, they’ll say that they started college thinking about going into a different field. I fall into this category. Until about senior year of college, I had full intentions to pursue a career in human resources. Then, I saw the light and changed my path to student affairs. Most of my colleagues have some profound experience while they are in college (i.e. RA in a residence hall, helping new freshman acclimate to campus during orientation, planning student entertainment activities, working in a campus office like advising or career services, being involved in student organizations, and the list could keep going). That profound experience can also often have the moment when an individual’s supervisor says, “you’re really good at this, have you ever thought of a career in student affairs?” It’s probably a combo of having a great work experience and someone taking the time to say, “you’d be awesome at _____,” that leads people to check out student affairs as a legit career option. This is where events like Saturday’s Career in Student Affairs conference come into play. Professionals taking the time out of their weekend to share their passion with the next “generation.” We were paying it forward.

I see paying it forward as a classic characteristic of the profession I have chosen. We are, by nature, a rather enthusiastic group of individuals who make up this field of student affairs. We are sharers. We take what our “elders” have taught us, combined it with our own experiences and then share that information with those who are coming into the field after us. I think of it as paying homage to those who have taken the time to mentor me and I am now doing that for someone else.

The presentation that I originally submitted for the conference centered around Twitter and all the awesome things Student Affairs professionals doing on social media in an effort to pursue professional development opportunities without a whole lot of cost or travel. Another duo submitted a similar abstract centering around social media and the event organizer asked if we’d be willing to merge our presentations so that there wasn’t topic overlap for the day. I said sure and had the opportunity to work with 2 individuals from the University of St. Thomas. The presentation itself went fine. I’ve presented so many times that it now takes quite a bit to really wow me. Our crowd was a bit small but I think that was because we presented during the last session of the day. Some people probably ducked out a little early. Oh well, their loss. 🙂

My favorite part of the day had to be the 4 resume reviews I did with students. Resume reviews and mock interviews were extra options the students could sign up for during registration. It was so fun to talk to each student for about 30 minutes about their resume, their education, and their thoughts about pursuing a career in student affairs. I shared my own experiences. I shared my extensive knowledge about resumes. I got to help a few students understand their future paths a little bit better.

Overall, it was a great event to be a part of. I got to share a little, help a little, and network a little. Plus, it was a gorgeous day in St. Paul (60s in November!!).

How have you paid it forward lately?


2 thoughts on “Paying it Forward

  1. Becky says:

    Good to meet you tonight at the Young House Love book signing. Your photography is awesome! I had to comment when I read your profile and saw that you did your grad program at UWW – I grew up in Fort Atkinson. It’s a small world!

    • ellenhatfield says:

      It was great to meet you too last night at the book signing. You’re from Fort Atkinson?! Crazy small world. Glad you like my photography. It’s always a work in progress & I’ve been especially working on it this year. Thanks for commenting!

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