Beauty and the Beast*

*in this post, The Beast is social media. I am quite obviously The Beauty.

One of my internship supervisors and colleagues–who also happens to be a CSSA graduate–told me that in every CSSA cohort, there emerges one or two “techies.” Apparently, in my cohort, I’m one of those (our other stand-out techie is someone who is logical and rational, not quite as off-the-walls bouncy and aloof as me–so naturally, I question this label I’ve gotten). I just happen to be a young woman that’s a social butterfly, and if that means connecting from the comfort of my room whilst on my laptop, so be it. There are so many people out there, and they have so much to say!

I suppose that’s why I’m a nerd for social media. It’s especially helpful that social media has played a large part in my sanity during a turbulent transition out of college, into the working world, and back into the academic zone.

Let’s look at a run-down of how social media and communication shaped and influenceds my student affairs grad career thus far:

  • In 2007, a friend tells me about “this new website that’s kind of like… just Facebook statuses.” I get a Twitter account, post one update, and remain confused.
  • Late in 2008, I begin a blog called “Word Whirl Too,” which will eventually be exported to a WordPress.com blog called “Trains & Sunsets.” Its intention is to log my professional growth and serve as an electronic career portfolio.
  • 2008/2009, I slip into a valley of depression. I start questioning my choices about my industry and purpose in life. I begin using Twitter to connect with old friends and businesses, trying to distract myself from the poor choice in housing I made.
  • Spring 2009, a local life coaching company follows me on Twitter. I take a look and an am inspired to rev up my efforts in finding my purpose in life. I have previously decided to investigate the world of “student affairs in higher education.” Luckily, I realize that there are several outstanding resources in SA, both in the blogosphere and on Twitter.
  • At some point, I connect with an individual named Eric Stoller. He seems to be well-versed in the world of student affairs, as well as familiar with the Pacific Northwest. I start following his blog and Twitter account, connecting with more SA folks from there.
  • I decide to commit to the student affairs graduate program search. I concentrate my search in the western United States. My former roommate jokes that I should look at Oregon State University for grad programs. A quick internet search shows that OSU is home to a Master’s program called “College Student Services Administration.” I panic because it’s the only program on my prospective schools list that requires professional experience. Eric tells me he’s CSSA alum.
  • I start subscribing to SA blogs via RSS feeds (in Google Reader). Blogs of note include those focusing on international education/study abroad, women in higher education, and graduate students in student affairs. The list continues to grow into my initial ventures into my graduate program, and I eventually find myself focusing on topics like non-traditional and transfer students.
  • I start using Twitter to connect with other prospective student affairs graduates. We exchange questions and stories about the application and interview processes. Most of us will end up at very different institutions, but we will continue to connect using the #sagrad hashtag. The #sagrad community is a great resource for support and collaboration, I soon find out.
  • 2010 rolls around. I officially enroll as a Master’s candidate at Oregon State University. It doesn’t take long before I decide to convert my “career portfolio” personal blog into my capstone project for CSSA.
  • Network, network, network. I connect with the #sachat community, a community made up of professionals and hopefuls (a.k.a., #sagrad, etc.), which carries out a weekly discussion via Twitter about issues in student affairs. Not only are there many perspectives shared, I am also exchanging ideas and thoughts with new professionals as well as seasoned professionals across the country and throughout the world. The communication major in me is thrilled as my own notions are consistently broadened and challenged.
  • In 2011, I become a part of the HigherEdLive.com family as a production assistant and intern for Student Affairs Live. This show utilizes live webcasts, as well as conferencing software and Twitter, to deliver a show about issues in student affairs. Eric Stoller functions as the host, and I take a behind-the-scenes function, sending Tweets out throughout the show containing related links, comments, and questions. We use the #SAlive hashtag to facilitate a running conversation with Twitter followers concurrently with the show. The internship allows me the privilege of learning from others in the field while also exploring first-hand the power of social media’s information delivery systems.
  • Additionally in 2011, I attend a “Tweet-up” (a.k.a., a meet-up for Twitter users) at the NASPA annual conference. I connect with several #sagrad members and professionals in real life–including making a memorable connection with Mamta Accapadi, who happens to be the Dean of Student Life here at OSU.
  • I take on a role as the Technology Chair for NASPA’s International Education Knowledge Community. This allows me the chance to explore working with website design and updates. I translate this over to my Fall 2011 internship, learning how to edit pages using a different type of editor.
  • Currently, I’m working via Google Docs with a colleague based out of the University of the Pacific to put together a conference proposal for the NASPA Western Regional 2012 conference. We initially “met” over the phone during CSSA interviews, then became Twitter pals. We have briefly met for only a few minutes on my last day at NASPA Western Regional 2011. The power of the Twitterverse compels you.

These are all reasons why I believe that social media is a powerful tool for student affairs professionals. While I am not at all discounting the value of traditional face-to-face networking, I find that using Twitter and other outlets has allowed me to vastly expand my network, my knowledge of relevant issues, my familiarity with the diversity of institutions which exist, and my ability to communicate via different media.

Additionally note: It’s not just all business! A lot of SA folks are into sharing music and decompressing using turntable.fm where people can play and share music.

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5 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast*

  1. Ashley says:

    I like to post pictures of my partiezzz.

    (are you going to get mad at me if i keep posting un-professional comments on your professional blog posts?)

    • Ardith says:

      Sometimes I post pictures of animals and other pretty things.

      And no. Can I tell you that I made some delicious ramen soup just now? Ginger, onion, garlic, mushroom, and bok choy for days.

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