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A few years ago a colleague of mine, Tanya Lewis, commented that for someone to survive in student affairs he or she must have a deep desire to care for and help people. Someone who requires too much structure in their day-to-day work environment, is not patient or leaps to solutions without fully listening could harm one's ability to help and care for others. This is not to say that these are negative traits. In the right context structure, a willingness to move forward and an ability to rapidly assess a situation are crucial to being effective. However, traits such as these can pose a problem when caring and helping are high priority responsibilities.
As my first week at uWaterloo has progressed it is apparent to me that the housing staff care a great deal and have a strong desire to help. While one could argue that as a new director the staff are making a special effort when I am around I believe the care and helping is present even in my absence. I say this because of how I see staff interact, or the systems that have been put in place, or the questions I'm being asked or the innovations staff are excited to tell me about.
In my last post I highlighted that ACUHO-I has created the foundation which outlines what campus housing professionals "need to know, need to do and need to consider to be effective in our work." In this post I am contemplating the types of characteristics or traits that a student affairs professional should posses to be effective in our work. I agree with Tanya that a deep desire to care for and help people are needed.
What traits do you feel a student affairs professional must posses to be effective in our work?