This week for #CSAM15, the Learn Forward team took the time to talk with Meg Cranney, Assistant Director of Student Activities at Chestnut Hill College.
Meg, it's so nice to meet you, thank you again for taking the time to share your story for #CSAM15. The Learn Forward Team is always interested in learning about people's stories. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in higher education and student affairs?
Throughout college, I was very involved on campus. I participated in a variety of clubs, including the University Activities Board. Additionally, I served as a campus tour guide and an Orientation Leader. After graduating and looking for a career in my field (Public Relations), I was reflecting on my most cherished times in college. The highlights of my college career were mostly the ones involving my extracurricular activities. This is when I thought, “Well, why not make a career out of what I really am passionate about?”
Cliffhanger! So, how did you go about pursuing a career in Student Affairs?
Once I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in Student Affairs, I started applying to any job I could find at a college or university so that I could get my foot in the door. I ended up getting hired as the Administrative Assistant in the Financial Aid Office at Chestnut Hill College. While working there, I was accepted into the Higher Education/Student Affairs Master’s Program at Drexel University. Shortly thereafter, a position opened up at Chestnut Hill to be the Assistant Director of Student Activities- something that was exactly in my field of interest. I applied and was hired! I have been in this position now for a little over four years, finishing my Masters along the way.
Congrats, that's great! What would you say have been some of the challenges or turning points in your career that have influenced its direction so far?
In this profession, I honestly believe that the turning points far exceed the challenges. Being a student affairs professional becomes a lifestyle because you end up devoting so much more than a typical 9-5 job. But in the end, the outcome is worth it. I think the biggest thing that has solidified my passion for Student Affairs has been the students that I have worked with over the years. Any time a student thanks me for something that I have done for them, it reinforces why I do what I do. And when you get to see those students that you have built a relationship with for four years on their graduation day, there is nothing like it.
Agreed - graduation is such a rewarding day. Alright, it's time for the dreaded job interview question... Where would you say you see yourself or hope to see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, I imagine I would still be in a job that involves both planning events and working with students on a personal level, as those are two of my strongest qualities. My ideal job would be working as a Director of New Student Orientation.
Having been in student affairs for a handful of years now, what advice do you have for new student affairs professionals just beginning their careers?
The biggest piece of advice that I have for new student affairs professionals is not to be afraid to try out something new in the world of Higher Education. If you attended a small school, do your Master’s at a large school (or vice versa). Don’t be afraid to work in an office that you may not have an interest in (such as Financial Aid). This variety of experience will help you see Higher Education through different perspectives and give you more wisdom when working with college students.
Great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us about you career in student affairs. We look forward to connecting again soon and staying updated on your career path - perhaps the next time we talk you will be a Director of New Student Orientation!
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