How did you transcend your skill sets from your previous positions into your current position?
One of my favorite quotes is by Joan Rivers - “I was smart enough to go through any door that opened”. My professional life has been a series of going through open doors.
I started my career managing student organizations, focusing on leadership development and organizational efficiency. If you had asked me to describe my role ten years ago I wouldn’t have described it in that way. As many of us can relate, my supervisors saw strengths in me such as adaptability and responsibility, and my career journey began to move down the professional river. I ended up co-planning and developing social and digital media campaigns for our programs and special events like Caltopia and other departmental events. At this point, I saw a gap in my knowledge and decided to go back to school to pursue graduate studies in Business Administration. This experience helped me to start reframing my job responsibilities in business terms, applying business concepts and frameworks to recreation. My current role as Associate Director of Recreational Sports activates all of my experience and academic preparation. I have the immense honor of leading workforce analysis, performance improvement initiatives and strategic projects.
My professional career has been a journey of reflecting on experiences and finding things I can take away from them as wisdom, building my professional toolkit. I look at each experience as an opportunity for me to add new tools. Through this practice, I’mable to upskill and showcase myself in different ways. I leverage skills in my job today that I acquired years ago; I might not use them in the same way, but the foundation remains the same.
What are some transferable skills for higher education professionals that can apply elsewhere?
Oh gosh, where to start? First and foremost - we wear 10 hats at the same time comfortably. I always analogize our soft skills in the way that we’re chefs in a kitchen, constantly moving pots around the stovetop and ensuring nothing burns. Other skills that come to mind include communication, conflict resolution, intercultural fluency, and critical thinking, all essential soft skills employers across industries seek in professionals. Finally, program, event, and project management. These skills transcend all industries and are extremely valuable to employers.
What are some of the steps you have taken to develop your skill sets?
I am a firm believer in continuing education, however that shows up; certifications, workshops, graduate degrees, or even LinkedIn Learning courses! One of the most valuable steps I took personally and professionally was completing an MBA program. The case-based learning model refined my critical thinking and strategic planning skill set. The program also aligned my past work experiences so I could better tell my story and identify future goals, leading to my current journey as a doctoral student in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Human Capital Development - Instructional Technology & Design program.
Servant leadership is also extremely rewarding and provides great learning moments. An article from the Harvard Business Review notes that “when we serve others we feel more fulfilled, happy, motivated, and engaged”. I’m very active in the professional association NIRSA, where I developed and co-chair the Women+ Caucus, serve as the Northern California State Director, and recently won the 2022 Annual Service Award. Not only is my work with NIRSA rewarding, but the experiences help me work more effectively with others and have helped me refine my communication, project management and leadership skills.
Chrissy is a is an Associate DIrector at Campus Rec Sports and works with the workforce analysis, talent management, performance improvement, and strategic project management of employees at Rec Sports. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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