How Student Affairs prepared me for my job outside of the field

Mandi Cohen

July 17, 2017

In Fall of 2016, I decided to leave my Student Affairs job and pursue a career in Marketing.  While I still work at a Higher Education institution, this shift has felt quite different in many ways.  When I was interviewing, I made it a point to highlight my transferrable skills and try to find some common ground between my previous role and the new one I was hoping to do.  However, I wondered deep down how well they would serve me on this new path.  What I have found, is that my experiences not only make me qualified for my job, but also give me an edge! 

A few of the skillsets that have already served me well are:

Student Development

Do I cite Chickering as foundational for projects I work on?  Well, no.  But I certainly use my knowledge about students and their development in my marketing strategy.  They are, after all, my main target audience in the majority of projects I work on.  Having true understanding and empathy for their thought processes, emotional development, and progression helps me to figure out the best way to communicate to them and engage them.

Diversity and Inclusion

One of the first projects I worked on in my role was a booklet representing the Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in the college.  The piece included imagery, and quite a bit of copy around our stance on inclusion.  The booklet was meant to be evergreen, and be a 30,000-foot view of how the college strives to be a welcoming environment for all of our students.  While for projects of this nature we hire a freelance writer, I was able to understand the material and context far better because of my classes on diversity in my Masters program.  I was also able to identify and challenge some language and photo selection and provide a more critical eye to the effort than I would have without my background in Student Affairs. 

Student “Gathering”

My coworkers think it’s really funny when I call myself an expert “student gatherer.”  But it’s true!  You learn a lot from working closely with students on what is needed to get a large group of them in one place, at one time, with the correct items prepared.  Part of my role is doing some art direction for photo shoots.  These shoots often need to be of our real students on campus, collaborating and learning together.  Thank you Student Affairs for teaching me the genius that is a doodle poll and that clarity and reminders are your best friend. 

Through this experience, I have learned that the skills we acquire and the lessons we are taught in the field of Student Affairs are invaluable.  They make me not only a better professional, but also a better person.  And I am so grateful.

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Mandi Cohen is the Marketing Manager for the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.  She also recently finished a two year appointment on the NASPA IV-E Board.  She can be reached on Twitter at @mandi_cohen.

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