Reflecting- Student To Mentor
I discovered higher education as a career path as a result of the mentoring and leadership opportunities I was involved in at UConn as an undergraduate. Looking back, I saw my leadership through a UConn "frame" so to speak; according to Bolman and Deal, frames are a “a set of ideas and assumptions- that you carry in your head to help you negotiate a particular ‘territory’” (Bolman & Deal, 2013, pp. 10). When I look back, my view of leadership at the time was centered on UConn tradition and Husky Pride because that was one of the ways I connected with my students.
When I came to Salem State, my UConn frame just didn't work. The traditions, organizational structure, and the policies were totally different. I didn't know what it looked like to be a leader in a place where the shared values weren't splashed across campus on basketball posters. Nobody taught me a Viking chant my first day on campus. As time passed, I began to see that leadership was socially constructed in a different way at Salem State, partly as a result of the differences in history, mission, and campus life.
Learning From the Best
As I learned about my leadership style in this different context, I simultaneously began to notice the ways that I was being mentored. It was subtle and unspoken, but as I developed an increasingly self-authored point of view, I saw it much more clearly. My mentors have taken incredible care to ensure that I have experienced challenge, had access to professional development opportunities, learned more about the field and myself, and that I haven't been too hard on myself. NACE (2016, pp. 2) makes specific recommendations to mentors about the ways they can support their mentees in their career and personally. My mentors have definitely gone above and beyond that role with me. Their example will undoubtedly guide my future mentorship/ leadership experiences just as it already has with the Peer Career Fellows.
To supervise my Fellows, I incorporate different leadership styles depending on context. My dominant style of relational leadership informed my decision to plan professional development opportunities as a group with a shared goal. Then, while assigning semester projects, I was intentional about including the interests and career goals they described before making a final assignment. For the final decisions, I incorporated contemporary/ authentic leadership for its ability to create outcomes with social value (Komives, 2011, pp. 359).
As a strategic thinker, leadership comes naturally to me in many ways. I am inspired by the concepts of envisioning and planning opportunities for change, of uniting different voices with a shared vision, and of empowering and educating a future generation. I am influenced by professionals who I consider to be admirable and capable leaders. I'm striving to be an excellent leader long term, but for now I can reflect on my growth as I look back to the first time that I acted in a leadership role. I remember thinking that assuming that role felt like an old pair of shoes that didn't quite fit anymore. I loved the things I was doing, but I didn't love the process that I had to use to do them. My team was as amazing as I could have hoped for, nonetheless. As I have gained more experience, I have also continued to clarify my vision for myself as a future leader. To begin, I chose to focus on the following outcomes: use reflection to constantly evolve and incorporate one’s authentic self into one’s identity as a leader, as a mentor or role model for others, think critically, creatively, and imagine possibilities for solutions that do not currently exist or are not apparent, identify and consult with key stakeholders and individuals with differing perspectives to make informed decisions, and (ACPA & NASPA, 2015).
New Perspectives & Ideas
For the Annual Career Fair, I wanted to put my inner-creator to work this past year. I co-chaired the marketing committee and worked closely with our student marketing assistant throughout in order to ensure seamless execution. In the process, I developed a comprehensive social media marketing plan that covered what content needed to be posted, who was responsible for posting it, what time to post, and on what platform it needed to be posted. The tracking sheet detailed where images would be saved for future use, and listed locations for any analytics that were collected. The Snapchat filter was another idea that we tried implementing for the first time to try to spread the word about the event. Prior to the day of the fair, we had several employers do "Twitter Takeover" days so students could see a day in the life of some of the employers coming to the fair. The University and College Information Systems Association (UCISA) asserts that "as higher education is increasingly expected to show the value of its activities in relation to the wider economy and society, public engagement takes a progressively important role, with social media providing an immensely useful set of tools for this purpose" (UCISA, 2015, pp. 16). If I wanted to try out these new ideas, I had to take ownership of them and lead the initiative.
ACPA & NASPA. (2015). The professional competencies for student affairs educators. Washington, D.C: Author.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2016).
The University and College Information Systems Association (UCISA). (2015).