I began my journey into Student Affairs in January of 2012 when I entered the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) Housing Internship search. After about a month and a half of scanning job descriptions, researching host institutions, and penning cover letters, I accepted my first post-undergrad position. Now, the only thing holding me back was a little anxiety over what it would be like to step into my first public-private partnership.
There have been a multitude of different articles and studies on what it is like for a new professional to transition into their first position within Student Affairs. These articles provide wonderful insight and tips that serve as beacons of hope for new professionals. However, very few of these articles touch on what it is like to make the move into a public-private partnership.
After a month working with Capstone On-Campus Management and Marshall University’s Department of Housing and Residence Life, I am confident in relaying a few basic tips on a successful transition into a public-private partnership, even knowing each situation is unique.
Tip 1: Ask Questions – Even the Difficult Ones
Obvious enough, right? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your supervisor, co-workers, or students. This was the most crucial aspect of my transition. I stepped into my role and continually kept track of different questions I wanted to ask. It didn’t matter whether I was in the middle of a departmental meeting discussing Summer Conferences or editing a Resident Assistant manual; whenever something popped up I posed the question. Even if it was something small asking questions helps to unveil the root of the process and often how it came to fruition.
Tip 2: Discover Key Goals
One of the first questions I posed during my transition into the position was, “what are the key goals in the Capstone On-Campus Management – Marshall partnership?” I quickly discovered there was an overwhelming response and desire “to be seamless.” With more explanation, I learned both entities strive to provide excellent service for their residential populations and to be in sync with each other. The hope is that the students do not even recognize there are halls on campus which are not managed by the University.
Learning this was vital to understanding why the partnership was set up the way it was. It helped me frame different operational processes that would fit both parties and allowed me to discover ways to help improve the partnership as a whole.
Tip 3: Network
One of the best ways to get to know an institution and the partnership is to meet with different departments. My supervisors have been wonderful in allowing me to sit down with University leaders across the Division of Student Affairs, as well as interact with corporate personnel. Each of these conversations allowed me to understand the public-private partnership from different angles.
Tip 4: Have Fun
My last bit of advice for you is to have fun. Sometimes your work ethic when transitioning into a new work environment is to do your best at work and then leave it behind at the end of the day. It’s not cliché to say this, but having fun in addition to working hard is key to your first week. My colleagues have been phenomenal in this aspect because they worked to show me some of the best examples of what it is like to live in Huntington, West Virginia. Resident Directors brought me to the Green and White spring football game to show me the pride that Marshall has for its football team. My supervisors provided me with DVDs such as “We are Marshall” and showed me cultural areas such as Point Pleasant, WV, where the infamous “Mothman Statue” is located. Not to mention, my student-staff worked diligently to get me to laugh and enjoy all the little pranks they pull during the day.
Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful in a transition to a public-private partnership institution. As one of my mentors once told me, “Lean into Your Discomfort.” Dive in headfirst and know you’re not alone!
Ryan Lloyd is the ACUHO-I Intern for Capstone On-Campus Management and Marshall University’s Department of Housing and Residence Life in Huntington, West Virginia. He is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science – Comparative Government at American University in Washington, DC. Ryan will begin his Master of Education program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina in the fall.