How did I get here?

Interior Design Student —-> RA —-> Student Affairs Master’s Student —-> ?

How did I get here?

Sometimes, I ask myself “how did I get here?” Actually, that question more often comes from others. Upon learning that I have obtained a BFA in interior design and then discovering further that I am now pursuing a career in student affairs, people ask “How did that happen, it seems like a pretty big jump?” Well, it is. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t found a way to connect my interest in interior design into my passion for residence life and student affairs. But let’s start from the beginning.

I started at Arcadia University in 2005 seeking a degree in Interior Design. I had developed an interest in interior design during my high school years and started taking art classes. I really like Arcadia’s program – it started with fine arts classes, followed by hand drafting, later infused technological approaches and culminated with a senior thesis project of the student’s choosing. So, that’s where I decided to go. It was at the beginning of my sophomore year that I became a resident assistant. Throughout the next two years I came to love both things equally splitting my time between interior designer and resident assistant.

By the end of my junior year, I had completed an internship at an interior design firm and discovered it was not everything I wanted it to be. While I enjoyed the work, I missed having constant and meaningful interactions with coworkers and colleagues. My time as an RA became more valuable to me as I continued in the position. I loved working with fellow RAs and guiding my residents through their first year. My junior year, I took on the position of Senior RA – I loved that! I was able to help other resident assistants develop as leaders.

Eventually, someone in pointed out that student affairs was a career field and one in which I might be interested. So, I began to do my research. I worked with supervisors and mentors. I investigated institutions where I could attend graduate school. I read online job postings to determine whether or not I wanted to go straight to work. However, I had this pang of indecision in leaving behind interior design and my artistic pursuits.

Finally, my senior year, things began to make sense when I started working on my thesis project. Senior thesis required a lot of long nights in the basement of Boyer hall. If I wasn’t interested in my project those would be some long nights. Finally, I had one of those epiphany moments. One where everything comes to you in a flash and you know that is the direction in which you want to head. I decided that I wanted to design a student center for a university —  a building that could combine what I loved about student development theory with themes of good design. And that is what I did.

My senior year was a vignette of my ideal future. I was working on an interior design project infused with student development while simultaneously living and working in the residence halls with the population for which I was designing.

I decided to go to graduate school, to gain a better understanding of student development theory and to begin my career as a student affairs practitioner. Through my first year, I have discovered the potential to be both a practitioner and a scholar. I have discovered the ability to work in student affairs and develop my own line of research which I can continue to expand throughout my career. I believe that, while still somewhat blurry, I have found my future path.

And, that, is how I got here.

Kate Conway is an intern at the University of Delaware Career Services Center. She is currently obtaining her Master of Arts in Counseling in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs Practice. Kate is particularly interested in Lifetime Career Development and achieving personal success in the workplace.

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