I am a follower of the Student Affair’s Feature on Twitter, @SA_feature. Yesterday the blog featured a wonderful post on the affects of silos in Student Affairs departments and becoming functional area experts. I mean the article is almost word for word my feelings and thoughts in another person’s voice. I am just sad I did not write it first!
I, too, am what you call a Student Affairs generalist, meaning I love to dabble in a host of functional areas across the institution. While some practitioners may be singularly focused, I have varied passions. I love connecting, and building strong relationships, with both students and staff across campus. I love people and I love technology! I wholeheartedly believe that the ability to complete my day-to-day tasks, while also dabbling in other functional areas, not only helps me grow as a professional but also keeps me motivated!
The article includes some easy tips to break out of the functional area silo. If you love a dynamic and ever changing work environment, then these tips will help you add some flare to your day. Spicing up your campus experience can also be a very helpful way to land you that next position!
Can You Wear More Than One Hat in a Silo?by Shane Long
Something that has often troubled me about the student affairs profession is our preference for creating silos for our work. I am referring to our increasing specialization and isolation of our work with students. Colleges and universities, as well as the field, embrace the idea that our work needs to be clearly defined along functional areas and that specialization in these areas is critical to provide quality services and learning experiences for students. I’m guilty of this practice, having created the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership at my current institution a few years ago. This is not to say that this was the wrong decision for our institution. Rather, it has been a catalyst in promoting student engagement in organizations and other campus activities. However, it did create a silo for my work that I have yet become accustomed.
As professionals, we can become pigeonholed into certain silos by our work in functional areas. In researching job postings, you will see emphasis placed on direct experience within a functional area versus broad skills and breadth of experience. This can be detrimental to professional growth by limiting professionals to certain types of work. I have always thought of myself as a student affairs generalist, one you might say wears a lot of hats. I have experience in advising, career services, transfer services, international student programs, orientation, and student activities – often serving in many of these roles concurrently. Ideally, I would like to see my work encompass as much of a student’s college experience as possible.-Read more at studentaffairsfeature.com
Thanks for the vote of confidence! I often feel like I’m a bit of an outlier when it comes to this idea so it’s nice to come across another like minded student affairs pro.