Reflections from New Professionals Institute 2019 (Hosted by NASPA/SACSA)

NPI Group PicLast week I had the great honor of serving as faculty for the 2019 NASPA/SACSA New Professionals Institute (NPI). Hosted at the beautiful University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus, I had the opportunity to work with an all-star faculty group and over 80 new professionals representing 11 states, 60 institutions, and countless functional areas. During this intense 6 day experience I found myself re-energized, both as a professional committed to making change, but also as a peer of these amazing professionals seeing to better our world by first bettering themselves.

Like many of the participants, I’m sure I’ll continue to unpack this experience, but below I’ve outlined some of the key lessons with my own spin on it. Enjoy!

  1. Similar to retention, enrollment management is everyone’s job! Take time to identify how your role contributes and map your work to the larger enrollment and strategic goals for the campus.
  2. The only constant related to work/life balance is that it is fluid. Work/life balance doesn’t look the same for everyone, nor will it remain constant for you. Learn to identify when you are depleted and strategies to refuel yourself.
  3. Student affairs is an iceberg, 20% of what others see and prepare you for, and 80% of what really happens. Don’t discount the experience and advice of those around you, but remember that one of the most important traits of any higher education professional is agility.
  4. Different circumstances require different leadership styles. Effective leadership requires you to develop influence and self-management at your institution and beyond.
  5. Your lived experiences directly impact your work. As you expand your knowledge bank, you also deepen your understanding of self. Take time to examine how your identities and lived experiences influence your work and service to others.
  6. Effective mentoring is multifaceted. Take inventory of the people around your and learn to foster those relationships. Mentoring looks different for everyone so try to find people who both challenge and support you.
  7. Conflict is inevitable and often experienced both inwardly and outwardly. It is important for every professional to know how and when to engage, and when to stand down. Focus on exercising and teaching ways to navigate conflict with civility.
  8. Find your professional home and vacation home. If you haven’t already, find a professional association that you feel a natural connection to and immerse yourself in volunteer opportunities. Take time to also visit and explore other professional associations to learn more and broaden your perspective.
  9. Focus on managing imposter feelings, rather than eliminating them. Imposter syndrome shows itself in many forms so learn to recognize it in yourself and ways to combat it.
  10. Contribute to positive and productive campus politics. We often associate politics with negative behaviors, but remember that politics are often about relationship building.
  11. With every new position, you’re a new professional. Learn to use the experiences you’ve gained as a launch pad to greater things, but also recognize that as you move up things often become more gray.

For those that attended, if you have more pictures, let me know! I’d love to include them in a gallery.

For those interested, here is my presentation:

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