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How to actually use your NASPA membership

Region IV-W
October 9, 2020 Jennifer McDannold University of Arkansas at Little Rock

In the beginning…

When I was in grad school, my Masters program, College Student Personnel, always told us that professional organizations existed. NASPA was always one of the top promoted organizations. They told us it was how you meet fellow professionals, network, learn new skills and various other wisdoms they imparted. 

I didn’t choose to join then. I was broke, trying to get a job & had little time for anything but starting my career. But I wish I would have, because the discount was worth it.


When I got my first “big girl” job…

I dived in head first to all things professional. I took a job in Recruitment, so I learned about travel, marketing, promotional items & good old fashioned politics. 

After a couple of years, I realized there was a place for professional experience. In your professional role, you learn the skills that help you do your job. If you’re lucky - your supervisor is awesome and also helps to mentor and guide you into the field of Higher Ed. 


But what happens to the people without mentors? 

That was me. I joined NASPA because I wanted to learn more about Higher Ed and have practical experience on my resume so I could move on to the next big thing. And so I did. 

I joined a Knowledge Community, took the lead role for Student Career Development and learned more about career services and integration than most professional career folks. I also met people across the country who were in roles from Graduate Assistant to lead Student Affairs positions on campus. I learned what a “board” really does and how my voice matters. 


After a few years…

I got a new job. Woot! But I didn’t know anything about Orientation. I used the professional organization, NODA (Orientation, Retention, Transition) to immerse myself in new data, problem solving skills and other practical applications in my field. 

NASPA was still there for me. The new job was a lot harder than expected and the safe place I chose to vent and process difficult tasks assigned - was my NASPA family. I finally realized what everyone meant by needing a professional family to guide you through your professional institution. The guidance, encouragement and clear minds I chose to confide in were truly a lifesaver during some bad times. 



NASPA is my next step in growing other parts of Higher Ed that I want to explore.

Currently, I serve as the Social Media Specialist for the Center for Women. I also really enjoy learning more about the 1st generation student success center

How do you learn skills not assigned in your professional position?

Where do you speak your mind to positions ahead of you & feel like you belong in the conversation?

When do you present to fellow professionals and learn new concepts to ponder?

These answers and more can be answered with one acronym - NASPA. 


How can I join?

Visit NASPA.org and jump in a volunteer role. Getting started as a Knowledge Community representative is valuable. You can have regional or national interest, publication opportunities, access to training & manuals for free. 

Most importantly - build that professional next step you deserve in your career. Find the professional that knows what you want & how to get it. Grow nostalgia with new professionals, helping them to take their next steps and network around you.