Not so different: Finding Common Ground in New Student Transitions

It’s been nearly 2 months since I was told that my position had been affected by restructuring at our institution. On that day Thursday, I learned that I would start in a new position in a new department in a month. My initial feelings included shock, anger, and sadness as I came to the realization that something I really enjoyed would be soon coming to an end. As I thought more about this upcoming change, my feelings changed from sadness to fear. Fear of the unknown, I suppose. Would this new position be a good fit for me? Did I have the knowledge and skills I’d need to be successful? How would I fit in with my new team after working on my own for so long? Behind my fear there was a tinge of excitement. I had always longed to work with a team of people and this opportunity would provide me with new skills and experience to add to my career.

If I could sum up my first few days in one word it would be information. As I began to transition, I was given articles, manuals, websites, and files. Essentially, I was given a lot of new information! There I was, someone who knew nothing about student development stepping into an established student development role. This could have been overwhelming; however, increasing my basic knowledge of Student Development Services (SDS) was enlightening! As I reviewed my pile o’information, I began to see where the Student Learning and Transitions (SLT) department fit in the Office of Student Development and Services, and I started to see where I fit in that bigger picture.

In the second phase of my transition, I was introduced to the members of the Student Development team. I toured the offices and had one on one meetings with my new colleagues. I was able to make connections with the people behind the services we offer. I gained unique insights into the office and student development from everyone I sat down with. These first encounters taught me a lot and I was welcomed and felt reassured I was accepted as member of the team.

The next phase of my transition is ongoing and in the trenches! From the first day I have been answering questions, coordinating New Student Orientation (NSO), and attending meetings. I’ve also been learning new skills like writing blog posts! Let’s call it on-the-job training and experiential learning. All of this has helped me gain more valuable insight into the world of SDS. Previously, I wasn’t fully aware of the size of the SDS division, the scope of services they provided, and the complexity of organizing large-scale events such as NSO. Now I live it every business day!

In many ways, my experience is not unlike that of the incoming students I will be working with. We’re all transitioning into a new role and from experience I know that providing them with information about the services and introducing them to the friendly faces who are here to assist them will go a long way in easing fear and helping grow their excitement for being Nipissing Lakers. As I transition and orient professionally, I can confidently say I have a better understanding of NSO, why we do it, and why we do it the way we do.

A big thank you to SDS and the SLT team for making my transition so positive.