Previous to starting at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in student affairs 5 years ago, I served in professional academic advising capacities at Central Michigan University, The University of Tennessee, Duke University, and William Peace University (formerly Peace College).
As an introvert I always enjoyed these 1:1 experiences far greater than being in a crowded room engaging in empty small talk and networking. I understand its importance and can survive this environment, but it is never an invigorating experience for me.
NOTE: Receptions at professional conferences are my hell on earth. I just hope for good beer at the reception.
While I do love presenting to crowded rooms, I think I can have the greatest impact in 1:1 advising sessions. Because students/an audience are all individuals with a different knowledge base or at a different stages of development, a presenter may have to generalize and speak in broad terms to appeal to the greater masses. This has lower impact than 1:1 interactions.
Working with students 1:1 allows true teaching and mentoring to take place. There is an opportunity to assess where the learner is and take them on a tailored journey toward success.
I am lucky enough to work at the #1 School of Pharmacy in the country with amazing students that push me to be excellent every day. Sure, graduate (PhD, MS) and professional (PharmD) students are different from the work I have done with undergraduates, but they still have opportunities for significant growth and it is wonderful to witness.
Over the summer, our pre-pharmacy academic advisor working with undergraduate students stepped away from that responsibility. Hearing of this news, I expressed my interest in serving in this capacity. Yes, it was something a little “extra” but I had a good feeling it would be good to get back to my “roots” and advise students 1:1 on a more consistent basis.
Yesterday, was my first day serving as pre-pharmacy academic advisor for the campus. It was so energizing and like the old expression goes, ” felt like riding a bike.” I had 4 student appointments and hence 4 students in different places in their development, with different needs, not to mention different levels of anxiety as they pursue applying to pharmacy school.
Like a doctor (minus all that pesky schooling), it was fun to diagnose a student’s goals and unhatch a plan of action that not only I was excited about, but one which the student could buy into as well (i.e. what actually matters).
I walked away from the academic advising programs building a recharged professional. I already know this experience will be a positive addition to my schedule and enhance my core responsibilities as well.
Taking advantage of opportunities of passion, even if an it’s an addition to your workflow, can provide a positive gain to the overall satisfaction of your professional life.