So your graduate program faculty member convinced you to join a professional association - you paid your dues and signed up on the website - but now you may be wondering how to make the most out of NASPA and are feeling anxious to take the next step.
Professional associations such as NASPA are great resources not only for supporting early career SA pros but also for providing an outlet to give back to the student affairs community. If you’ve found yourself wondering how you can volunteer your time and skills, continue your professional development post grad school, rev-up your networking skills, and get the most out of your NASPA membership, then this post is for you.
So, here are my crucial steps on leaping into the wonderful world of NASPA as a new professional:
1. Do your research:
If you haven’t already, research which part(s) of NASPA your values align most with or are most applicable to your career aspirations.
Ask yourself these questions:
a. What does NASPA offer within the regional and national levels? Am I looking to network locally or am I searching for connections across the globe?
b. Where are my colleagues, mentors, and supervisors getting involved? What were their experiences like?
c. Is there a certain specialty area I want to work in that has a Knowledge Community I could get involved with?
d. Are there webinars, blog posts, conferences, and even virtual or face-to-face meet and greets that look fun and interesting for me to try out or maybe even offer to help out with?
Take a good look inward at your values, along with your professional strengths and opportunities for growth to help you decide where and how you would like to get involved.
Ask yourself these questions:
a. What am I looking to get out of membership? Am I looking for networking, conference planning experience, mentorship, professional development, or all of the above?
b.What do I value as a professional and want to advocate for? For example, NASPA has many Knowledge Communities dedicated to advocating for specific student and professional identities.
c. What are my skills? If you’re savvy in marketing, fundraising, event planning, etc. you may want to seek out a volunteer opportunity to flex those skills in giving back.
d. What do I want to learn more about? Although you may not know lots about working with veteran students, for example, this Knowledge Community may be a great place for you to learn more about advocating for this group of students.
As a new professional, I found this last question particularly helpful in reflecting on my goals and narrowing down what I want to get out of my NASPA membership.
Search, search, search!
NASPA is always looking for volunteers and providing their members with a variety of professional development opportunities.
Look for them in these places:
a. Volunteer Central is your go-to for NASPA volunteer opportunities: From Knowledge Communities to conference planning to regional volunteer openings - you can apply for these opportunities all in one place on the Volunteer Central.
c. Check out NASPA.org for the latest scoop on conferences, webinars, blogs, special announcements, and meet and greets.
d. Connect with a colleague on LinkedIn and see what they’re up to! Many NASPA volunteers include their volunteer positions on their LinkedIn profiles and resumes as they are proud of their role in giving back to the field of student affairs.
Join and connect.
Now that you’re involved with a conference committee, region, or Knowledge Community, don’t forget to continue to build upon these experiences!
Here are some best practices in making the most of your volunteer experience:
a. Take time to connect with others. Introduce yourself through the chat feature in a webinar, connect on LinkedIn with a colleague who has a board position you aspire to be, and reach out about future meet and greet planning opportunities.
b. Contribute to webinars, writing blogs, and Knowledge Community committee meetings.
c. Only commit to what you can. With there being so much to do within NASPA try to avoid committing to more than you can juggle, considering work and your outside of work obligations.
d. Share your contributions. Add stories about your involvement to your resume, LinkedIn page, and other social media accounts. Show off what you’ve done and let it help you towards your future goals!
I know that getting involved in NASPA can feel like a big step for many new professionals, especially while working remotely, but these experiences can help you stay connected to the field, give back and help others, and build a network of support - vital to the rest of your career.
Author: Corinna Kraemer is an academic advisor at Goodwin University. She loves painting, skiing, and hanging out with her cat, Mr. K. She hopes her posts will finally help her dad understand what her career in student affairs is all about. Read more by Corinna on the Presence blog!