Happy New Year! I am proud to say that Bryce, Emily, and I have survived and conquered our first semester as interns here at ASPSA. We have finished our mid-year evaluations from our primary supervisors and completed our mid-year intern evaluation with Maria as well. To say that I have grown immensely as a young professional is an understatement. I could probably spend the next several hours writing to you all about the trials and tribulations that I, along with my fellow interns, have experienced- but no worries, I’ll spare you. I will say that this has been one of the most rewarding experiences in regards to personal and professional growth and development and it’s only half-way over.
The main purpose of this month’s blog is to provide you all with our answers to some of the questions we received from our readers. I think this blog post is very fitting as we have just finished reflecting over the past 5 months and are gearing up for the last 6 months of this internship. We reached out to you all to have you ask some questions that you’d like to know about our experience here at ASPSA. I hope that our answers will provide you with a small glimpse of what we’ve learned and experienced since joining the ASPSA team. We hope you enjoy!
On your worst day, what do you find you need the most?
On my worst day, I need a few minutes to myself to process that day’s events and just vent. One of the MOST important things that I need on a bad day is my support group (aka: my family). My parents are the best about giving words of encouragement or taking my mind off of my troubles- even from 12 hours away. I think that, especially in this field, a support group (or person) is crucial. If we kept all of our emotions from each crazy day’s events to ourselves, we’d go crazy! I think that it’s also important too, that we make time for ourselves. So often we get so wrapped up in helping others that we forget to help ourselves. On my bad days, I make sure to do something for Dixie (that usually involves ice-cream).
I love this question! I started a “Successes Spreadsheet” back in November. This job has a tendency to point out negatives or issues on a daily basis; not necessarily because they are prevalent but because these are the things that need to be addressed quickly and in the moment. Because of this, it is easy to get wrapped up and focus on the “bad,” rather than all of the good things that happen every day. I noticed my stress levels were really increasing late last fall. Registration had just ended, basketball season was beginning and we were hitting crunch time with about a month before classes ended. I decided I needed to stop each day and think about the successes, no matter how big or small. I created a spreadsheet with a column for each day of the month and a column to type what the success was for that particular day. Successes vary every day; some days they are grades that have come back after I know a student has worked really hard on a particular assignment and some days they are simply good conversations with students I may not even directly work with. This has become one of my favorite parts of the day; I sit down and reflect on what has happened and some days it’s hard to pick just one so I write down any that come to mind. This is helpful to look back at on a particularly long day. And if a day comes where I can’t actually think of one, I have a whole month’s worth to look back on and can move on to the next day with a positive attitude!
What qualities make for a successful AC in this field?
- Patience. Patience is without a doubt one of the MOST important qualities that an AC can exhibit. Students, coaches, and deadlines are going to push you to your personal limits and if you don’t have patience, I feel that it will be extremely hard to succeed.
- Flexibility. No two days are going to be the same in this field. As an AC you will be asked to do about a million things at a time. You have to be flexible in the fact that you are able to accomplish things that may not have necessarily been on the top of your list of “things to do”.
- Passion. I have learned that as an intern, you will be pushed and stretched to what feels like your absolute limit. However, because I am able to do what I love with students that I care about, it’s worth it. I learn something new every single day. Although I may not get a “thank you” each day, those special moments when you do are what keep me motivated and willing to push through to the next day.
I completely agree with the three qualities Dixie mentioned and will add a couple more. First is the ability to think quickly. This is a fast-paced environment and new situations arise daily. An academic coordinator needs to have the ability to quickly think through situations and come up with the best solution. A lot of what goes on day to day is very time sensitive which means action has to be taken quickly. If decisions are made quickly it allows the best opportunity for student to be successful.
Consistency is another quality I think a successful academic coordinator possesses. Each day you need to come to work with all the qualities that make you successful. There are no days off because someone will always need your help. Even after the semester is over there is always work to do preparing for new students and new classes. Also, having a student know the type of help they are going to receive every day when they come to you really helps build that relationship. If you are consistent students know they will always be able to come to you for help.
What have you learned most about yourself through this ASPSA experience?
I’ve learned that it’s ok to make mistakes. No one is perfect and that if you mess up, fix it. With that being said, it’s extremely important to double or even triple check what you are doing. There are so many things happening at once, that it is easy to get distracted which can lead to mistakes. One big thing that I didn’t realize about myself until joining ASPSA is that I need to improve my attention to details. The small details are often ones that can lead to the mistakes so it’s crucial to be aware of these details. I want to avoid these situations as much as possible.
One of the biggest things I have learned about myself is how I adapt to new situations. I grew up and went to school all in the same area so I did not experience a whole lot of big change before this. Moving to Raleigh and coming to a school I knew little about was exciting and a little scary at the same time. Learning a new school and how everything operates was something I was looking forward to because it is a skill I will need to learn and will help me grow as a professional. There were some growing pains and times where I was not adjusting as fast as I would have liked, but overall I think my transition has gone pretty well. This experience has definitely made me feel better about the process of adapting to a new school and in the future I will better know how to handle everything involved with a big change.
Have you learned more about your philosophy or style of working with student-athletes since you have been at NC State? And what have you learned?
I have learned a lot about my philosophy and style when working with student athletes. My philosophy on academic support has evolved over time. Eight or ten months, I would have said it is all on the student. I’m here for assistance but it is up to each individual student to do what he or she needs to do to graduate. While I still believe a student’s education is ultimately his or her responsibility, I have learned there is not a “one size fits all” approach and each students’ background will determine how I am utilized. Because each student starts at a different place in terms of academic ability, level of independence, and amount of accountability, individualized academic plans are very important. No two students are the same therefore tutoring, mentoring, weekly meetings, and classes are all going to look different. It’s not just about the amount of support but the type of support. A mentoring session that introduces time management and study skills may be valuable to a weak student, whereas another student may benefit from more subject specific tutoring. In developing individual academic plans, there are a lot of important factors to take into account the most obvious being academic ability- high school grades, test scores, etc. It is also important to look into their general background including their family and relationships. A student who has lived a relatively easy going middle to upper class life is going to have a different plan than a student who may have helped raise younger siblings and had more responsibilities growing up. Family background can affect how much responsibility and accountability students have been previously held to; this can help map an individualized plan. These individualized plans must be flexible because you never know how a student will respond once they get to college and are thrown into life as a student athlete. Some high achieving students may falter and vice versa.
It can sometimes be hard to formulate an academic plan with freshmen because you may not know much about them coming in; this is where relationship building plays a huge part. It is important to build a trusting relationship from day one. I like to ask them questions about things outside of academics to show them I care about them as people and their outside lives. While my background may be very different from that of my students, I’m constantly trying to find some sort of common ground. Common ground may be favorite sports teams for one student while it may be just asking about family members for another student. Earning a student’s trust in this process is very important to me and to the student’s individualized academic plan.
**Thanks for reading this month’s blog post! I hope that you’ve enjoyed a little glimpse into our experience thus far. Thanks for reading and following along!