1st Edition

The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career

By Sonja Ardoin Copyright 2014
    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    This is a book for any student affairs professional who wants to strategically shape his or her career path—and will be particularly helpful for people in early or mid-career, or contemplating a career, in student affairs.By engagingly offering us the fruits of the reflective and strategic approach she has used to shape her own career, and of the theoretical and practical approaches she has undertaken to map out the culture and dynamics of student affairs, and by gathering the voices of 25 professionals who offer the insights and advice derived from their own experiences, Sonja Ardoin has created a guide for everyone in student affairs who wants to be intentional in setting the course for their professional and personal development.She begins by describing the changing and varied student populations who are the heart of this field, and outlines the typical organizational structures of student affairs, the range of functional areas, and how practice varies by size and type of institution. She highlights major trends, discusses the typical paths of entry to the profession, the expectations and realities of starting in a new position, the process of socialization, and the required skills and competencies. She devotes the core of the book to the five key elements for developing a career strategy: Lifelong Learning, Extending Your Experiences, Planning for Professional Development, Networking/Connecting, and Self-Reflection, and provides advice on the job search, from application through interview. In doing so she ranges over choices to be made about formal qualifications, and describes activities – from volunteering and committee work to conference presentations, writing and teaching – that we can use to strategically develop the proficiencies to attain our goals.

    FOREWORD 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE FIELD Student Demographics on Today’s College Campuses Student Affairs’ Role on Campuses Student Affairs By Institutional Type Student Affairs Structures Functional Areas Summary 2. NEW PROFESSIONALS THROUGH THE MAGNIFYING MIRROR Who Are You and Your Peers? What Are Your Ideal Expectations and What Is the Reality? What Are the Career Themes You Might Want to Consider? Which Skills Do You Have and Which Ones Are Useful? In What Areas Should You Focus Your Professional Development? In What Areas Should You Strive to Be Competent? Summary 3. CREATING A STUDENT AFFAIRS CAREER STRATEGY Intentional and Spontaneous Reflecting on Your Current Strategy (or Lack Thereof) Five Career Strategy Components Summary 4. LIFELONG LEARNING Formal Processes of Learning Informal Processes of Learning Personal Stories Summary 5. THE JOB HUNT AND EXTENDING YOUR EXPERIENCES The Job Search Gaining Experience Outside of Your Job Description Personal Stories Summary 6. PLANNING FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT It Is Your Responsibility Navigating Professional Development Options Get Creative Crafting Your Plan on “Paper” Personal Stories Summary 7. NETWORKING OR CONNECTING Do You! Politics Personal Stories Summary 8. SELF-REFLECTION Do You! Personal Stories Summary APPENDIX A. Initial Self-Reflection Questions APPENDIX B. Job Interview Question Examples APPENDIX C. Professional Development Plan REFERENCES READING SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW AND MID-LEVEL STUDENT AFFAIRS PROFESSIONALS FROM YOUR PEERS AUTHOR AND CONTRIBUTORS INDEX


    Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D. is a learner, educator, facilitator, and author. Proud of her rural hometown of Vidrine, Louisiana, her working-class, Cajun roots, and her first-generation college student to PhD journey, Sonja holds degrees from LSU, Florida State, and NC State. A self-described scholar-practitioner, Sonja served as an administrator for 10 years before shifting to the faculty in 2015 and currently serves as associate professor of higher education and student affairs at Clemson University. Her career path includes experience in academic administration, academic advising, community engagement, fraternity and sorority life, leadership development, student activities, and student conduct. Sonja studies social class identity in higher education; college access and success for rural and first-generation college students; student and women’s leadership; and professional preparation and career pathways in higher education and student affairs. She stays engaged in the broader field through presenting, facilitating, and volunteering with ACPA, AFLV, ASHE, the Center for First-generation Student Success, NASPA, and several journal editorial boards. Learn more about Sonja at https://www.sonjaardoin.com/. Marcia B. Baxter Magolda is Distinguished Professor Emerita, Miami University of Ohio and a nationally recognized author and speaker on student development and learning. She received the American College Personnel Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Research Achievement Award in 2007, for her outstanding contribution to advancing student learning. Her scholarship addresses the evolution of learning and development in college and subsequent adult life, and educational practice to promote self-authorship. Her seventh and eighth books respectively are Authoring Your Life and Development and Assessment of Self-Authorship.

    “From the point of view of someone in his first year in Student Affairs, Sonja’s book provides honest guidance about what it means to be a new professional. Sonja presents theory and practical insight on how you can create and take advantages of opportunities that will enhance your career, and addresses many of the challenging experiences you will face when starting out. Reading this manuscript while I transitioned into a full-time position was extremely fortuitous.”

    Thomas Harwell, Resident Director at Boston College

    "Ardoin and her coauthors invite readers into a learning partnership to navigate becoming a student affairs educator. [Her] emphasis on bringing one’s personal authority to career planning is a central theme of the book. Ardoin advocates professionals taking responsibility for their own growth and development and approaching their careers with intentionality. To assist readers in taking up the invitation, she provides a concrete career strategy that includes five components: lifelong learning, extending your experiences, planning for professional development, networking and connecting, and self-reflection. The book explicitly addresses balancing intentionality and flexibility in advocating these strategies as processes for continued growth. Ardoin emphasizes personal authority in her focus on developing one’s individual style for how to plan, strategize, network, and reflect. She recognizes that career planning is not a one-size-fits-all process and provides good questions, worksheets, and resources throughout to help focus self-reflection, assessment and personal stock-taking.

    Ardoin and her colleagues offer good company for readers in various stages of student affairs careers to recompose meaningful work and adult lives."

    Marcia B. Baxter Magolda

    "As a professor in a higher education program I seek activities and resources that can bookend a student’s experience in our program. I have finally found the book that will both stimulate discussion among new professionals in their first class and foster rich dialogue in their last class. Actually reading the book twice affords students the opportunity to consider the core elements of a career strategy as discussed in this text: lifelong learning, extending your experiences, planning for professional development, networking/connecting, and self-reflection. The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career will be a must read for our students"

    Audrey J. Jaeger, Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis, Co-Executive Director, National Initiative for Leadership & Institutional Effectiveness

    North Carolina State University

    "The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career is a one of a kind resource for student affairs administrators in any stage of their career. The book is well organized around five key elements of career strategy that helpfully prompt readers to not only focus and reflect on critical stages in their career development and advancement, but also on their personal motivations and goals. This is enhanced by the inclusion of voices of current administrators who share their stories and insights to illustrate the book’s message.”

    Ashley Tull, Director of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives, Division of Student Affairs

    Southern Methodist University

    "This book fills a huge hole in the field of student affairs—namely, helping graduate students and new professionals chart a path for their career. The writing is crisp and clean, and very easy to read. By taking a strategic approach to identifying career goals and planning a deliberate approach to one’s own professional development, Dr. Ardoin’s book is a clear and useful guide to the profession. It will be very useful in teaching graduate students how to think about the future, but is also useful as a guide for the new professional in their first or second job who is thinking, 'What is next and how do I get there?!' A great contribution by Ardoin and her many contemporaries who share their own stories of success."

    Robert A. Schwartz, Professor of Higher Education and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

    Florida State University