One day, while going through the ACUI website, I asked my boss (Susan Payment) to explain IPDS. Her expression and reaction said it all.
“It’s an amazing experience for any new professional that I regret not taking,” she said. When we found out about a staff development fund, she encouraged me to apply and, if I received funding, she would match it and send me to the program.
Needless to say, six weeks later, I was on two planes and a bus to Purdue University. I would not trade the experience for anything.
It gave me a better perspective of what exactly I was supposed to be doing within our Student Center, especially since the Office of Student Life oversees the operation of this building. Walking through Purdue’s union, I had the realization that the student union is my niche in higher education.
Identifying three outcomes from IPDS is difficult, but I will try:
- We are all trying to accomplish the same goal: Giving the students at our institution the best well-rounded experience during their college career. It doesn’t matter if the space is a union, student center, cubicle in the front hallway—we are all looking for the growth and wellness of the students.
- Assessment does not have to be scary and can be very simple. We, as members of higher education, have a tendency to make it scary without thinking about the simple things we do every day as assessing.
- You’re not alone! The amazing network of people, especially in ACUI, is there to answer questions, help when you have a critical issue, and tell you that you’re not crazy. These are the people who will be able to help shape your professional development while adding a whole new level to your overall experience as a professional.
We were there to learn. We learned from professionals who have been in higher education much longer than some of the new professionals. We learned from the ACUI staff about all of the great resources they provide for the membership. We learned from the staff at Purdue about union staff, facilities, programming, and much more.
But the biggest thing we learned is that we can learn from each other. I don’t believe that will stop any time soon, and I would encourage any new professional to attend IPDS in the future.
IPDS is about learning what it means to be a new professional. What advice would you give a new professional?
is the Associate Director for Student Life Operations at College of Charleston.
Mandi Bryson is in her fourth year at the College of Charleston and was recently promoted to her current position. She oversees the operations of the Stern Student Center and all student life facilities as well as working with various groups on campus. She spent her first three years advising the student media groups. Mandi has a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master's in physical education—both from Florida State University