Residential Life Students eating in Garvey

Careers in Student Affairs-Division of Student LIfe and Development

Careers in Student Affairs -Division of Student Life and Development

Want to know what an actual student affairs professional's day consists of?

We have featured the profiles of several individuals who work in the Division of Student Affairs at St. Cloud State University below. You can click on each of their profiles to learn more about them, why they chose a career in student affairs, and what a typical day is like for each of them.

One perk of a career in student affairs is that every day brings new experiences and there are endless opportunities. These schedules only show an example of a "typical" day of a student affairs professional, but keep in mind that at any moment they would be required to respond to any and all types of situations.

Jerry
Bulisco

Assistant Dean
of Students

  Get involved as an undergraduate. Volunteer, serve on conduct boards, campus committees and hall and student government.

 

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Education:
Master's Degree, Administration of Justice,Webster University, St. Louis, MO

Bachelor's Degree, Chemistry, Youngstown State University, Youngstown,OH, (Distinguished Military Graduate)
Harvard Management Development Program Certificate, Cambridge, MA
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Honor Graduate)

I entered student affairs work by a rather different and somewhat unique path. Toward the end of my military career as an Army officer, I was assigned as Professor of Military Science at the University of North Dakota (UND). This was considered an academic chair position and allowed me an opportunity to begin to learn how a university functions. After two years in this position, I was asked by two Deans if I would consider leaving the Army and working for them. My first major project was to "fix summer school." I wasn't sure what that meant other than it appeared to be a dysfunctional and rudderless program. After poring over pages upon pages of data, conducting focus groups, and analyzing class offerings, I made several recommendations all of which were accepted and in place today. The faculty was very happy with my work since I found out that they were some of the lowest paid summer school faculty in the upper Midwest, and I recommended a significant pay raise.
Since I had an aviation background as an Army helicopter pilot, I then taught aviation classes, recruited aviation students, and was an academic advisor. It was here that I began to realize that I need to take a more holistic approach to advising and began doing more student affairs type referrals and conversations.
I then applied for and was appointed as an assistant and then associate dean of students serving for nearly 13 years, doing work very much like I am doing today. There are some differences however. At UND, I was also responsible for supervising the Multicultural Student Center, the Adult Reentry program and center and the Memorial Union which included all the functions of Campus Involvement. Like SCSU, I was also responsible for the conduct program and the Crisis Intervention Team. (a precursor to today's Behavioral Intervention Team)
The most exciting thing about a career in student affairs is knowing that every day, we make a difference. I know that it sounds a little corny, but we do change the world. The lives that we touch in times of joy or in times of crisis really are affected by our standards, ethics, and leadership by example.
My advice for students who are considering a career in student affairs includes these:

1) Get involved as an undergraduate. Volunteer, serve on conduct
boards, campus committees and hall and student government.

2) Ask administrators what they do and ask to shadow them.

3) Attend a graduate program and seek out graduate assistantships and internships that allow you to sample the various positions and functions of student affairs.

4) Seek out a mentor/role model.

5) Be open for opportunities that may be out of your comfort zone.

It is difficult to describe a "typical" work day in a Dean of Students Office. I'll try, but before I do, I must say that I was hired 5 years ago as an assistant dean of students. After one year, the Dean of Students left and that position was never filled. (See #5 above!) Our work day often presents many unplanned challenges and opportunities. We are responsible for, managing the student conduct process, crisis management and behavioral intervention, and advocacy in addition to serving on a host of committees, attending meetings, developing and implementing policies and the list goes on. Although I am somewhat bias, I would recommend that all student affairs professionals serve a period of time in a dean of students office setting, since this well rounded experience will prove helpful in any area of higher education administration or teaching you may ultimately pursue.

David L. McCandless

Assistant Director
of Campus Involvement

  I began my professional career as a Complex Director in Residence Life at the University of Oregon, where I stayed for almost 3.5 years.

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I grew up in Kansas and did my undergrad work at Kansas State University, majoring in Political Science and Public Relations with a Leadership Studies minor. I went straight from undergrad to graduate work at Oregon State University, where I received my M.Ed. in College Student Services Administration with a minor in Counseling. My first year of grad school, I was the Director of Graduate Student Affairs for the Associated Students of Oregon State University, managing communication and outreach with graduate students for the student government. In the summer between my two years of graduate school, I was a NODA intern at Texas A&M University, assisting with their New Student Orientation program. My second year of grad school, my Assistantship was with the Alumni Association at Oregon State advising their student programs.
I began my professional career as a Complex Director in Residence Life at the University of Oregon, where I stayed for almost 3.5 years. During that time, I also spent 3 months as the Interim Coordinator of Conduct filling in for a colleague who was on maternity leave. I left res life to take a position as Interim Assistant Director of Family Programs and Commencement at the University of Oregon, managing the University's communication and outreach with Parents and Family Members and planning Commencement for UO. I spend almost 2 years in that role before starting at SCSU in July 2012.

How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
I had some great mentors at Kansas State who steered me in to the profession.

What, in your opinion, is the most exciting thing about the opportunity to have a career in student affairs?
Every day I have the opportunity to help students succeed.

What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs.
Working in student affairs, the pay is not always great and neither are the hours. If you want to be rich and/or hold banker's hours, you should choose another field. The thing I wish I had known before I started was the degree to which administration and administrative tasks can take up much of your time. Especially at large public institutions, you are part of a large bureaucracy and as a general rule, bureaucratic administrivia is not why most people get into the field, but it is a significant part of most jobs.

Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
Averaged out over time, in many positions you can expect to spend 2-3 hours a day in meetings. Additionally, keeping up with email and other communication can be a significant time commitment, as much as 2 hours a day. Working on projects or assignments and planning future events can often involve several hours a day, and in many positions there will be evening and weekend events.

WANDA OVERLAND

Vice President Student Development

  There is no typical day which is part of the "fun" but it can also be stressful so one has to be flexible and adaptable as well as multi-task.

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree –
Doctor of Philosophy, 1996, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
Higher Education Administration Master of Science, 1983, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
Home Economics Education, Emphasis in Guidance and Counseling and Business
Bachelor of Science,1975, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
Home Economics Education

Additional Educational Experiences -
Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, 2004
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Steven's Institute, 2000
Association of College Personnel Association Deans' Institute, 1999
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Symposium for Women Preparing to Become Senior Student Affairs Officers, 1995

Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school) – · Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, 2004-2006, Bowling Green State U
· Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, 1999-2004, Bowling Green State U
· Assistant Dean for Student Life and Director of Memorial Student Union, North Dakota State University, 1995-1999; Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, 1991-1992, NDSU
• Director of Student Organization Development, 1984-1991, NDSU
· Executive Director, Young Men's Christian Association of North Dakota State University (YMCA of NDSU), Fargo, ND, 1981-1984
· Residence Hall Director, Department of Housing and Residential Life, North Dakota State University, 1978-1981
· Home Economics Instructor, Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, ND, 1976-1978; Bottineau High School, Bottineau, ND, l976

How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
When I returned to NDSU to pursue my Master's Degree I was hired as a Residence Hall director. That was the turning point for me, recognizing that everything I liked about teaching and coaching were aspects of positions in higher education and specifically student affairs. What, in your opinion, is the most exciting thing about the opportunity to have a career in student affairs? Working with students and creating environments in which they can thrive and be successful while at the University pursuing a degree and after they graduate.

What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs?

It must be a passion and one must have a willingness to learn, grow and develop in order to sustain the career.

Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
There is no typical day which is part of the "fun" but it can also be stressful so one has to be flexible and adaptable as well as multi-task. The hours are early morning and late evening and include weekend activities and events. The day is filled with meetings, events, and projects. Thus, because of heavy meeting days, most of the work is done at night, early mornings, and weekends.

Dan
Pedersen

Director, Department of Residential Life

  The collegiate atmosphere is like nothing else. It is both steady and unpredictable; exciting, manageable, cyclical, chaotic, energizing...

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree -
Eastern Illinois University, BA in Mass Communications (television & radio emphasis), MBA

• Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school):
­ GA - Eastern Illinois University ­ Hall Director - Ball State University ­ Asst. Director of Housing - Murray State University ­ Asst. Director of Housing and Residence Life - University of Memphis ­ Asst. Dean of Students for Residential Life - Valparaiso University

• How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,) -
Started out as an RA and used a grad position to get a masters- worked in the sales field for one year before I came RUNNING back to student affairs. My old hall director hired me at Ball State one month before training started and the rest is history.

• What, in your opinion, is the most exciting thing about the opportunity to have a career in student affairs?
The collegiate atmosphere is like nothing else. It is both steady and unpredictable; exciting, manageable, cyclical, chaotic, energizing, exhausting, but most of all it's challenging and rewarding.

• What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs -
You should interview, and shadow a variety of professionals to find out how they got in to the field, what the enjoy and what they don't, and measure that against your own skill set and passions. you also need to balance your lifestyle pursuits versus what a career in student affairs can offer you. A BMW lifestyle will be hard to obtain on a Ford Focus salary for several years, but the rewards from working in a collegiate environment are not always material. I thinks college students who started out thinking that they wanted to work in K-12, but are unsure of that field should examine the parallel opportunities in Student Affairs work. Being able to be both an educator and practioner may be the hybrid career no one told you about coming out of high school.

• Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
7:30 am » Emails
8:00 am » Phone messages
8:30 am » Meeting or tour Garvey/Res hall
9:00 am » Student Success Committee Meeting
11:00 am » Honors Advisory Group meeting
Noon » working lunch
1:00 pm » Email/phone calls/work on scholarship applications
2:00 pm » Executive Team Meeting
3:30 » Meeting with Vice President
4:20 » Meet with student leader of Senate Finance Committee
4:45 pm » Meet colleagues at Hallenbeck and engage in student summit over basketball
6:00 pm » Head home
8:30 pm » Email check; review schedule for next day

Jen Sell Matzke

Assistant Dean
of Students

  Work hard, manage your time well, show that you're dependable, and have a positive attitude...

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from St. Cloud State University
Master of Arts in Organization Leadership from St. Catherine University

· Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school)
Residence Hall Director, University of Wisconsin, Superior
Residential Learning Coordinator, St. Catherine University
Academic Advisor, St. Cloud State University
Assistant Director of Residential Life, St. Cloud State University
Assistant Director for First Year Experience, Dept. of Residential Life, St. Cloud State University
Associate Director for Staffing and Student Programs, Dept. of Residential Life, St. Cloud State University

· How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
I transferred to SCSU during my sophomore year of college and didn’t really get connected or meet many people. In fact, I was voted the “shyest person” on my residence hall floor. I decided after that to make more of an effort to get involved on campus and I also needed to look for on campus employment and had seen advertisements encouraging people to apply to be a “resident advisor”. I went to an information session and decided it looked like a very fun and rewarding position. To this day I’m shocked they hired me because I was so nervous during my interviews that when they asked me what residence hall I lived in, I gave them an incorrect answer. Somehow I survived the process and someone saw potential in my that even I didn’t know I had and I was hired. I was an RA for three years and as I approached graduation, teaching jobs were scarce. My Residence Hall Director told me that I should consider a career in Student Affairs and since I knew I enjoyed it and jobs were more abundant, I decided to give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history.

· What, in your opinion, is the most exciting thing about the opportunity to have a career in student affairs?
Too many things to narrow down. Most of all, I love working with college students. Working in this field causes you to constantly change and adapt because college students are always changing and in order to stay current we must change with them. It makes me feel like I am always young and full of energy! I love the colleagues I have met and been able to work with and learn from and I love the dynamic environment and the challenge of coming in to work not knowing how my day is going to go because at any moment something could happen that demands immediate attention.

· What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs
Get an on-campus job in one of the departments within the division of student affairs at your university and then do your best work! Work hard, manage your time well, show that you’re dependable, and have a positive attitude and most of all, let them know you’re interested in continuing to work in the field when you graduate. If you do good work and show you’re dedicated and enthusiastic, people will take you under their wing and help you get connected and mentor you.

· Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
7:45 am  Emails
8:15 am  Phone messages/establish priorities for what I need to accomplish during the day (I usually try to select 3-5 tasks I absolutely have to get done each day)
9:00 am – 11 am  Meetings (either staff meeting or supervisory meetings)
11:00 am  office time/work on projects or professional reading
Noon  working lunch
1:00 pm  Email/phone calls
2:00 -4:00 p.m.  More meetings
4:00 p.m.  E-mail/Phone calls
5:00 pm  Leave campus to pick up my kids from daycare
8:30 pm  Email check; review schedule for next day

Michelle
Schmitz

Associate Director, Career Services Center

  My advice – network, volunteer, do internships and job shadowing/ informational interviewing with professionals who have positions you aspire to do!

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree
Bachelor of Arts from The College of Saint Benedict (CSB) in Communication and Management
Master of Science in College Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) from St. Cloud State University (SCSU)

· Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school)
News Writer (as a student) in the Public Affairs Office at CSB, Graduate Assistant in the Career Services Center at SCSU and Graduate Intern in Career Services at CSB.

· How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
I worked in Human Resources as a recruiter for a software company and my favorite part of the job was recruiting college students into the organization. It was a fun, up and coming place to work and it excited me to see the student's that I recruited light up when they came in for their interview. I had utilized the Career Services office as a student at CSB and really enjoyed the help that they provided. I just happened to meet Addie Turkowski, the Director of the Career Services Center at SCSU one day while I was visiting a friend on campus. She introduced me to the College Student Development program (now CCSD) and so I decided to enroll in this program, take a GA position in the Career Office, and the rest is history!

· What, in your opinion, is the most exciting thing about the opportunity to have a career in student affairs?
You get the best of both worlds – especially in a career office, I understand the importance of the academic role in a student's life and as a Student Affairs professional, I get to really see the face of the students: who they are, where they have been, what they dream to be.

· What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs
Well, it must be a good sign if I have been in this field the longest of any other J. My advice – network, volunteer, do internships and job shadowing/informational interviewing with professionals who have positions you aspire to do! Don't just collect business cards – truly get to know individuals in the field through face to face contact – most of us love to meet up for coffee or tea!

· Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
Well, I am sure you have heard this before, but there is no "typical" day. I meet with students individually, in classrooms doing presentations and through other outreach. I attend meetings with faculty, employers and other staff planning and sharing best practices, and spend a great deal of time responding to emails and phone calls from students, parents, staff, faculty and employers. One thing I wish I would have prepared myself for are the interruptions that happen in a day! There are many, but I thrive on change, so I don't mind it at times J

Brandon
Johnson

LGBT Resource Center Director

  I would encourage individuals seek out volunteer and internship opportunities to “try on” positions within the career field before committing to a graduate program.

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree
Master of Science in College Counseling & Student Development, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, May 2010
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, August 2001

· Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school)
Graduate Intern, St. Cloud State University, Office of the Vice President for Student Life & Development
Graduate Assistant, St. Cloud State University, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center
Residence Hall Director, St. Cloud State University, Department of Residential Life
Admissions Representative, Minnesota School of Business / Globe University
Director, Center for British Studies, Alnwick, England UK, St. Cloud State University, Center for International Studies

· How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
As an undergraduate student I was heavily involved in leadership positions within Residential Life. I honestly hadn’t considered the possibility of working in Student Affairs until the Director of Residence Life at the time, Mike Hayman, challenged me to consider applying for an open Residence Hall Director (RHD) position. Throughout my senior year I had served as an intern for Target Corporation and was set to serve as an Executive Team Lead at Target T215 upon graduating. When Mike challenged me to consider applying for an open RHD position it forced me to think constructively about my undergraduate leadership experiences. I then began to compare and contrast my experiences within Residential Life and at Target. While both were incredibly valuable I chose to work in Student Affairs because I believed I would have a greater opportunity to positively impact lives in a way that might not have been possible in a retail environment.

· What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs
If you’re considering a career in Student Affairs, take some time to explore the wide variety of position possibilities that exist within the career field. Increasingly, positions within Student Affairs require advanced degrees which require a substantial investment personally, financially, and intellectually. I would encourage individuals seek out volunteer and internship opportunities to “try on” positions within the career field before committing to a graduate program. Once you have chosen to pursue a career in Student Affairs, identify a graduate program that will provide you with a strong foundation for your future in higher education.

· Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
The standard operating business hours of the university are 8 am – 4:30 pm. While there are some days that my schedule falls within this timeline, there are also days that deviate significantly from the traditional workday. My job responsibilities vary greatly and my position requires a fair amount of flexibility in order to meet the demands of the ever changing environment and circumstances. Crisis management and late night programming are just a couple examples that require position flexibility. On any given day I will spend a good deal of time managing general communication of the LGBT Resource Center through email, voicemail, social media, and web. I also conduct and/or attend a wide array of meetings across campus and throughout the greater Central MN community. While many of the meetings I attend primarily include other professional staff, faculty, and administrators, my favorite meetings are with students. Coaching and advising students and student organizations is one of my passions and something I love about my day-to-day operations. Another aspect of my job includes facilitating Safe Space Trainings, educational classroom presentations, social and educational programming. General administrative tasks such as budget management are also part of a typical day. While no two days are alike, the above is a surface overview of some of the most frequent daily tasks my position requires.

Monique
Coleman

Veteran's Resource Center Director

  Working in Student Affairs can be very rewarding.  Be patient and innovating.  Be able to step out of the Title and job description assigned to you.   Listen!  Listen!  Listen!

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Where you got your Bachelor's and Master's degree
Received Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Western Illinois University - Macomb, IL
Received Master of Arts Degree in Political Justice and Studies from Governor’s State University - University Park, IL
Paralegal Certificate from Capital Law School – Columbus Ohio
Financial Planning Certificate from Kaplan University Online

· Previous positions in Student Affairs (title and school)
Veterans Coordinator, Columbus State Community College, Columbus, OH
Director of Military and Veterans Resource Center, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
Director of Veterans Affairs, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

· How you ended up working in student affairs (how did you find out about it, what inspired you to pursue it, etc.,)
I accepted an Internship with Court Appointed Special Advocate of Franklin County in Columbus, Ohio to complete internship for MA degree. After two months of completing my internship, I accepted the positions as Veterans Coordinator. This was my first experience working in higher education.

· What advice do you have for students who are considering a career in student affairs
Working in Student Affairs can be very rewarding. Be patient and innovating. Be able to step out of the Title and job description assigned to you. Find that area for which you are passionate about and explore it. Listen! Listen! Listen!

· Please provide a rough timeline of a "typical" work day in the office—what elements does your day consist of.
My day is full of meetings, connecting with Campus Community and the Greater St Cloud community to inform them on veteran’s issue, needs, and concerns; also to create programming, outreach, and volunteer opportunities. Connecting the veterans with Campus Life Assisting students with applying for their VA Educational Benefits, speaking with them about additional benefits they may be eligible for, assisting them with the assimilation of a college campus (which varies per student).

 

Click on the links below to see what Graduate Assistantship and Internship opportunities are available in each department within the Division of Student Life and Development.

American Indian Center Department of Campus Involvement Residential Life
Atwood Memorial Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center Student Disability Services
Career Services Center Lindgren Child Care Center Student Health Services
Counselling and Psychological Services (no positions open)
Multicultural Student Services

Women's Center

Student Life and Development Graduate Studies  

 

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