Why We Do What We Do: Creating the Best Student Experience
Why we do what we do? What makes us get up everyone morning ready to go, motivated, and excited to serve? I am sure caffeine plays a role, but what are the real reasons we do what we do?
I have been serving college-aged students, both traditional age and non-traditional age, since 1995. It has been a short 26 years. I began my career in administration in 2004 but always with student-facing teaching roles alongside. I also made the move from undergraduate to graduate student work in 2015. A pleasant switch, I may add, but I do miss the undergraduate student population at times.
For myself, I do what I do because of the students. I am truly one of those people working in higher education who thrives on watching students evolve, succeed, and grow. I enter a new student orientation for our graduate students, and I want to make long-lasting connections with each student. I use different techniques to do so. One of my favorites is to ask them where they are from. Many of our students are from other countries. Asking them questions about where they are from goes a long way in connecting with them. Those connections last for the time the students are in our programs. I also teach students two of the required courses in the MBA program. It is nice to see them early on in the program and then again toward the end. From orientation to graduation, they have grown and developed so much. From being timid to speak up, to not wanting to stop contributing to class discussions. Coaching students along the way also brings me joy—to let them know you have done it, so they can go a long way.
Eventually, graduate students begin to think about employment. I also help our students make connections with people who may be able to employ them after they complete their degree. I help them make connections with our career eservices office, members of our board of trustees, members of our academic advisory board, and others that I know may be able to employ our graduates or help get our graduates employed. Some of the ways I help students make these connections is by way of introduction. I invite the career services office to speak to my class. The office will present on what services they provide. I also invite members of the board of trustees and my academic advisory board to speak to my class. I will then make an introduction for my students to those who can assist them the best. Students may meet with one of them for coffee, lunch, etc. Some of our graduates want to stay locally in Boston and others want to relocate. Many of my connections are local to the Greater Boston area. Again, helping our students seek employment after they complete their degree helps me make more meaningful connections with them.
As you can see so far, the students are the reason why I do what I do every day. None of us went in to higher education to become millionaires. We went in to higher education to serve students–to serve the greater good and to make an impact on our society.
What really makes me do what I do is when students are about to graduate and they ask me for job references or recommendations. For a student to ask me to perform such an honor really makes it all worth it for me. I also get calls from former students who are changing jobs or careers and ask me for references or recommendations for that endeavor. Often, students reach out to me after graduation and they ask how they can give back to me or to the program. I have placed some of them on my academic advisory board, and I have invited others to speak to current students. Again, I truly enjoy seeing how far students have grown since I met them in orientation.
Besides being an administrator and faculty member, I also perform a few other duties. I read the names of our graduates at commencement, and I also hood our graduating MBA students (pre-COVID). That one day in the academic year is one more reason why I do what I do, and it really makes it all worthwhile. Lastly, I am also the advisor to all MBA students. I have seen students come full circle. Guide them through orientation, teach them a class or two, help them make connections, and I get to read their names and hood them at commencement.
Again, students make me do what I do every day. The colleagues I work with are great, my institution takes very good care of me, but it truly is the students that make me do what I do every day.
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Author Perspective: Administrator