What Are the Challenges & Rewards of Being Student Affairs Professionals? Critical Conversation #5


journal of college and character

Author
Michael L. Jackson

Published
May 11, 2016


Critical Conversation #5
 As student affairs professionals, what are the reasons for choosing your career? What have been the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards?

JCC Focus Author
Michael L. Jackson is a JCC Focus Author for May 2017. He authored the featured invited article,  "Reflections on a Life and Career in Student Affairs: Guideposts and Structure" in the upcoming Journal of College & Character May 2016 issue.

Here is an excerpt from his article:

Careers as student affairs leaders in higher education are not for everyone. My belief is that most of us are called to this work because we want to help individuals and create thoughtful caring communities of purpose that are focused on the betterment of human kind. We want to promote peace in the world one person at a time….

To be an effective student affairs leader you have to be honest with yourself about your ambition. What motivates you and why? How do you feel about money? Do you seek a particular job because it pays more, has a larger staff, has a fancier title, is located in a more prestigious office on campus, or at a school that has a higher ranking? Do you want to a difference in the lives of others and strengthen educational communities? Are you, as they say, “All in?” Are you inspired by a school’s mission and believe you can help achieve it? Are you motivated because of the inspiring vision of a leader for whom you want to work? Do you believe that you are the one person who can turn a struggling organization into a thriving one that is admired on campus for its accomplishments and contributions to the institution’s overall goals? These are a few reasons that might motivate you to take on more responsibilities and make the  sacrifices necessary to prepare yourself for them. My sense is the vast majority of us who work in student affairs do so because we feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction when we help turn a student’s life around or help resuscitate a struggling student organization or staff group that needed inspiration, direction, support, and the knowledge that someone “in authority” cared enough to help them. (p. 78)

As student affairs professionals, what are the reasons for choosing your career? What have been the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards?

We welcome your responses.


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