Fall Training!

Just a bit of a life update for y’all! My past two weeks have been filled with many professional development sessions, lots of discussions about what we can do to best serve the students in our residence halls, and many late nights of work. Hall Director training finished this past Friday and the RAs have now started to arrive!

RA Training at UND begins tomorrow morning and goes through August 19th. There will be many team builders and fun learning activities, as well as more heavy things such as learning how to help a student who is contemplating suicide, and how to confront an alcohol situation. It can be tough to talk about these things with RAs and we hope they will not have to deal with any of these situations, but it’s important to prepare them for anything. One big thing I learned from last year’s training is that it is super important to check in with my staff after those heavier days and make sure that they are doing okay and taking care of their mental health.

On my staff of seven, I have three returners who each have one year experience, one returner with a semester experience, and three new RAs. I’m excited to get some new perspectives in our halls and hopefully have a productive year! It is going to be a challenge to have two halls of very different student populations (one almost complete first-year and one 21+ and mostly graduate students) but the biggest challenge I see is making my staff feel like one cohesive staff since they are split between the two buildings but I hope that with some intentional planning, it will all go smoothly!

I am very excited to have the RAs back and before we know it, it will be move in day! I’ll keep y’all posted if there are any interesting updates from RA training over the next few weeks.

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The Problem With Letting Fear Rule Your Life

During a conversation over this past weekend, I said something like, “I just don’t understand what everyone is so afraid of!” While I was talking about a water balloon fight at the time, the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized that it rings true through much of my life. In grade school, I was worried my friends didn’t like me. During my undergraduate years, I was worried that I didn’t have good enough grades to get into graduate school. Now that I am in graduate school, I worry that I won’t find a job after graduation, or that I’m not doing good enough at school, at work, at [insert anything here].

This culture of fear was doing nothing good for my self-esteem, attitude, and work. I first realized how destructive this behavior was last fall while complaining to my mother. I was telling her about how the students I was supervising “won’t do anything I say”. My mom simply replied “have you asked them why?” Once I finally asked them, they quickly replied that I wasn’t letting them use their strengths, and instead telling them how I wanted them to do it. This was when I realized that I was not leading them in a way that helped us perform as a team.Instead, I was leading them from a place of fear. I didn’t want them to look superior to me – so I wasn’t letting them use their strengths out of fear for them being better than me.

From that day on, my supervisory style completely changed. I asked how they wanted to accomplish their tasks, instead of telling them exactly how things should be done. As a staff, they came up with and executed programs and tasks with little to no help from me. This was not only a learning moment for me as a first-time supervisor, but also lead to authentic team building. Through my first year of graduate school, I learned many things but the most prevalent is that it’s okay to not be perfect, as long as you’re trying your best.

I put my all into every day on the job; sometimes it’s not good enough, but sometimes it’s more than enough. That is okay. There are going to be people that like you and people that don’t. There are going to be things you are good at, and things you are not. However, you should never let those things hold you back. Our field is about growth and learning, and sometimes we need to extend those values to ourselves, too. Fear is not something that should guide our work or lives. So when you start filling your mind with doubts, stop it, and put your best, confident foot forward.

**This post was cross-posted on the Student Affairs Collective website. To see the original post please click here**

Reflections on My Summer Internship

I can’t believe how fast this summer has flown – but I am finally back in North Dakota after an eight week internship at the University of Illinois Springfield. While those eight weeks went extraordinarily fast, I also met many great people, learned many new things, and explored an awesome city.

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The beautiful columns in the center of the UIS campus.

Over these few weeks, I was able to get my hands on many projects – from RA training, to Orientation planning, to a review of the Terms & Conditions, to an assessment project, to creating a departmental calendar, and many more. I was fortunate to have a supervisor who really encouraged me to take everything in, ask questions, and explore new things.

I learned so much and strengthened my desire to work in Student Affairs – especially Residence Life. I am so grateful for the coworkers I had this summer who helped me adjust to a new campus and state, and gave me so many pieces of advice, laughs, and fun. I will miss our near-daily Starbucks runs!

Besides working, I also got out into Springfield and did so many fun things! From golfing, to the outdoor musical theater, to funky restaurants, to a world class park, Springfield has a lot to offer and I definitely took advantage!

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When my family came to visit, we went to see South Pacific at The Muni, Springfield’s outdoor amphitheater.

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I went on many walks in Washington Park, which many Springfield residents refer to as “a world-class park”. I agree!

In addition to those, there are also a number of the Abraham Lincoln Historic Sites. I was able to visit his Home in downtown Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, his Tomb, the Old State Capital Building where he served as a Senator, and the Law office where he practiced (although it is closed for renovations, I creeped in the windows). As a History nerd, this was super exciting to me and I tried to learn as much as I could of all of these unique pieces of history.

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The History nerd in me was so excited after touring the Lincoln House!

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to expand my knowledge about Residence Life, Student Affairs, and life in general. A huge thank you goes out to the University of Illinois Springfield and the Department of Residence Life for being so welcoming and helping to teach me so much! Now back to work at the University of North Dakota!

How I Stay Organized

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am attached at the hip to my planner. I put everything in it from class deadlines, to meeting notes, to-do lists, and many more! Well, I consider myself a fairly organized person so here I will share the things that help keep me organized.

First, the planner. I get my planners from Plum Paper and this year I experimented with a new layout. These planners are fairly customizable and there are a bunch of add-ons that you can have them put in. Since I just got this planner about two weeks ago, it doesn’t have a ton in it, but I am starting to fill things in.

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As you can see inside, it is sectioned off by different things going on in my life. I was able to customize these and that makes me very happy. My intention is to use these sections as to-do lists, rather than having meetings/events scheduled like many people do with their planners.

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There is also a monthly calendar that I will use for important events. Additionally, I have added a lot of notes pages to this planner so that I can use it as a place for me to take notes during meetings. That way, I always have the information that I need handy in one location.

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In addition to my paper planner, I also use my Outlook calendar for appointments and meetings. The great thing about this is that it allows me to get reminders on my phone so I know which meeting is coming up next. My institution uses Outlook for email, so this is the easiest tool for me to use, but there are many other calendar applications out there that are also great!

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Another way I stay organized is by color coding. As you can see above, my calendar is color-coded according to what the meeting is. Additionally, I use that color coding system in my planner as well. This just helps to keep things lined up in my head.

I think one of the most important things about organization is experimenting to find out what works for you! For me, the mix of paper planner for accomplishing tasks and electronic calendar for scheduling works wonders. Try out different systems and eventually you will find something that helps you stay on top of your tasks.

What tools do you use to stay organized? Are there any tools or systems that you want to try?