Connecting Student Affairs To Real Life.

The post-grad life is treating me pretty well.  I’m living with my parents for the Summer, in small-town, rural Northern Michigan, and I’m working at a family owned, local café.

My intentions for this Summer were to find a job in which I could work as many hours as possible, make a few bucks, and avoid the people I went to high school with, while having a little fun along the way.  However, I am getting much more out of this summer job than what I originally intended.

I have already learned so much about myself and the world of Student Affairs through the work that I am doing at the café and I thought it would be fun to share what I’m learning with others.

Flexibility is key:

Working in both Student Affairs and a Café, you just never know what you’re going to run into.  Whether it is an emergency/crisis situation, a spilled coffee drink, a messed up order, a crying student, or any other possibility you can think of…YOU MUST BE FLEXIBLE.  You have to be willing and able to set off on an uncharted course, throw away your itinerary, and just wing it sometimes.  You can’t be upset when something unplanned occurs, and you must remain in control of the situation.  It is not always easy, but it is necessary, and sometimes brings a laugh or two.

Go to where the people are:

Student Affairs and the Food Service industry are both “Customer Service” related fields.  This means that you must be able to meet your “customer” where they are, and cater to their needs and interests.  Whether you are coordinating an event or a program related to Study Habits, Sexual Assault, or Traveling Abroad, you must always keep the needs and interests of your students in mind.  The same goes for your “regular” customers at the café who you know by name and drink order, as well as the first time coffee drinkers who can’t pronounce half of the drink names correctly.  Take the extra time to get to know your “customers”, observe and evaluate their wants and needs, and use this information to provide the best support to them.  In the end it will benefit both parties.

People will always ask you “What is Student Affairs?”:

As a #FirstGen student, I didn’t know what this field was until I entered college. Even when I first heard about it, I thought it was just something “retired RA’s” found themselves a part of when they realized that one cannot be the RA of the world.  I actually think the world would benefit from having RA’s, and as it turns out, that is not at all what Student Affairs is.  There is so much to this field; it is vast and varying, and it is such a new field as well.  No wonder no one knows what it is.  That’s ok.  Not everyone knows why the lights turn on when you flip a switch, either-I will never understand electricity-but we still need electricians, just as we need Student Affairs Professionals.  I am learning to be patient as I explain my future goals to my family, friends, and customers at the café.  The important thing is that they see my passion for this field as I explain to them what it is that I want to do with my future.

“You don’t have to be crazy to work here.  We’ll train you.”

Anyone who has ever worked in Student Affairs or a café knows how crazy it can be sometimes.  There are slow days and fast-paced days.  You’ll put on a program that will bomb and a program that will be a raging success.  You’ll work with awesome people and lousy people-Both will be rewarding and allow room for growth.  You’ll mess up an order, or spill coffee down your whitest shirt.  You’ll be sent home early and you’ll spend long hours in the office working into the wee hours of the morning.  These fields aren’t for everyone-just the hardworking, passionate, caring, dedicated, service-oriented individuals who strive for the success and happiness of others.  It may be crazy at times, but that’s what keeps me coming back for more.

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Even though my summer job at the café is just a point in which I will pass through I have gotten so much out of it.  I love the work that I do here, and will forever appreciate this job opportunity.  Four more weeks until I move to South Dakota!

 

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