So as I can tell from my fellow bloggers, we have all had enough of this rough (and that is putting it lightly) Buffalo winter. Thankfully, the snow is almost all melted away and I can finally remember what grass looks like.

As the season turns to spring, I am getting closer to no longer being a Canisius graduate student and closer to being a higher education professional. And I must admit, I couldn’t be any more excited and prepared for what lies ahead. The College Student Personnel Administration program, directed by the outstanding Dr. Sandra Estanek, has laid the groundwork and provided me with confidence that I am prepared to enter a workforce that I sincerely have a passion for.

One of the best and most rewarding parts of being a CSPA student is that every year we are given the incredible opportunity to travel to a professional development conference as a cohort. Typically the conference we attend is ACPA (American College Personnel Association) which was held last year in Indianapolis, Indiana and this year- to my utmost delight- was in sunshiney Tampa, Florida. So I packed up my sandals, sunglasses, and summer professional wear (which has sadly been in a dark, sad place in my closet since October) and eagerly jumped on that plane. I consider myself to be a worshiper of the sun so Tampa had my name written all over it.

So now that you all know about my desperate need to go to Tampa for sunshine, it also is a great way to get to know people within your cohort on a personal level. These people who you share a class with on a weekly basis are going to turn into your colleagues at some point, even if they are working at a school in California and you are still in New York. One of the greatest pieces of advice I have gained this semester in my capstone class is to value the connection you make with your cohort members because they are ultimately going to be the people you turn to as a new professional with questions that you may not want to broach with your new supervisor.

The conference itself serves a general purpose to provide student affairs professionals and graduate students with a weekend jam packed with professional development sessions. A few days before the conference, there is also Career Central where those who are job searching can have interviews with one (or often times many) schools in all different functional areas and different parts of the country all in one place. As a first year student, you will have an assignment where you have to attend sessions based on the classes you are taking and write a paper about those sessions. But as a second year student, you have more flexibility in the sessions you attend because you may be spending your entire conference interviewing for jobs or you may be attending sessions outside your comfort zone to gain new insight or you may tailor your session schedule for areas you are specifically interested in.

Along with a lot of learning, networking, and fun, I also got a really nice tan 🙂