Graduates should be able to:

Comprehend organizational structure, dynamics, and systems

For better (or for worse), I’ve learned how things like job security, workplace politics, and high turnaround in a department or division impact the workplace climate — impacting productivity of entire teams, and the quality of future interpersonal communications across an institution. In my creative work, I’ve had clients on the division-wide level, that opened my eyes to the complexities and opportunities that are present in an organization that employs thousands of student employees and hundreds of professional staff. I’ve also worked in a department undergoing vast organizational changes, all while inside a division of student affairs experiencing many interim and changing professional staffing situations as well.

Identify and evaluate leadership styles, including one’s own, in various settings

StrengthsQuest (CliftonStrengths), MBTI

Through the CSSA program, I’ve learned how student development theories, such as the Myers-Briggs Theory of Personality Type, explore the impact that personality types have on how people “take in information and experience events,” leading one to believe that the “one size fits all” method of education, will have differing results even if the education delivery and environment stays similar (Evans, 2010). After learning about the Myers-Briggs Theory of Personality Type, our cohort took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, preparing us as graduate students to not only understand the value of personality tests to guide a person’s understanding of their own skills, while also seeking to understand the limits of any theory, drawing guidance, but not an Absolute map of the pathway ahead. I have also visited CliftonStrengths, known as StrengthsQuest, which provides a framework for understanding where your strengths are, working to build on those strengths, and seeking to understand how teams of people can leverage different combinations of strengths and skills in the workplace.

Demonstrate the ability to take initiative and lead in meetings and on projects or other tasks

Presentations, presentations, and more presentations.

I take pride in writing, designing, and delivering presentations — a skill that the CSSA program has allowed me to refine and continue to push the creative boundaries of professional digital communication. Leadership is something that I continue to learn more about, practice, and implement in my day to day work. After completing a leadership minor in undergrad, and working for the Center for Leadership Development, I feel comfortable discussing and analyzing leadership styles — however, being a graduate student in the CSSA program has allowed me to grow as a leader, working on the continual process of building self-awareness and emotional intelligence so that I can successfully be a leader, which involves a lot of listening and understanding others’ perspectives as well.

Communicate and collaborate effectively and appropriately with constituents both internal and external to the institution, considerate of cultural and linguistic diversity

Multicultural communications experience has been a strong element of my professional creative work experience while in the CSSA program. Designing communications materials that reaches multiple, diverse, and distributed audiences is an art that involves the university brand elements and position, the strategic plan of the organization, along with genuine communication that is authentic, compassionate, and clear.

Working with diverse teams of people often encourages rich dialogue around communications & marketing materials. Since 2015, I’ve worked in the communications assistant role (among many others), and I have learned to draft, design and create rapid prototypes of digital communication assets, working toward a final communications deliverable that takes into account both the client and the community connected to the message.

Synthesize fiscal information, including budget constraints and resources allocation

Three experiences during the CSSA program allowed me to learn more about budget analysis, and resources allocation.

  1. For our Budgets and Finance final project, we balanced a mock multi million dollar budget, integrating salary and staff evaluations as linked to budget decisions.
  2. As an information technology consultant at Oregon State University, I developed a computer depreciation spreadsheet that evaluated the status of a fleet of over 15 computers, along with a planned technology replacement plan that was visualized through a multi color heat map to identify vulnerable (aging) machines. Ultimately I purchased $5000 worth of computer equipment, noting both the employees devices needs along with the department’s budget concerns.
  3. In 2018, I started working for the Office of Institutional Analytics & Reporting (IAR), working as a graduate student web developer & communications assistant. Through this process I’m learning about institutional systems like CORE, a centralized data warehouse, along with institutional reporting, which combine student data with finance and operational data about the university.

These experiences, along with learning how to use pivot tables, propelled my understanding and competency financial and operational components of higher education administration. Over the last 3 years I have also developed a greater understanding of resource allocation through work with different departments and different funding sources (student fees, general fees, grant funding).

Demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in changing circumstances, employing decision-making and problem-solving skills

Evaluation of leadership styles “on the fly” and in situations requires a great amount of emotional intelligence. This is something that I focused on in my Leadership course, titled Leadership Skills for Career Success.

I have always “been employed” during college, and graduate school, either as a full-time employee, student employee, or graduate teaching assistant — connecting theory to practice is something that we worked on all throughout the CSSA program. In this section, I will make connections to each of the CSSA competencies, with an application to the world of work in mind. Treating each day like “day 1” is most certainly advice I carry today, as each day is an opportunity to either positively, or negatively, impact communication or progress toward a collaborative goal.

Recognize best practices and challenges in human resources/personnel management

Coursework in Budget & Finance, Programs & Functions, and Organization & Administration in Higher Education allowed me to gain experience dealing with conversations around staffing, and human resources situations in the workplace.

Having conversations about staffing is a humbling process, having dealt with the chaos and change that often comes with changes or reduction in budgets, I have seen both sides of the conversation, both as an employee and as a para-professional. In the CSSA program, we spent a great deal of time discussing how to have difficult conversations, and why things like performance evaluations are important to maintain a “paper trail” when looking to justify difficult human resources decisions.

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