Professional development exercise

This is from my Programs and Functions in College Student Services class. I made up a fictitious position and wrote up some thoughts as to why I would be perfect for the job. UPDATE: It’s interesting to see how my thinking has developed in my career path. This was an extremely tech-heavy position. I am now looking forward to working in a Dean of Students unit preferrably in a student conduct/judicial/ombuds position.

Step 1: Imagine what your ideal work life would be like in the first two years after graduate school.

Job description

Director for Web Resources and Services.
Reporting to the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director will provide
strategic leadership for all internal and external Student Affairs oriented
web initiatives.


Master’s degree in College Student Services Administration.


Develop a collaborative planning process that leads to a Student Affairs
Web strategy which will include an assessment component.

Implement web initiatives that support the division’s enrollment, administrative
and marketing objectives, and promote the university’s strengths, mission
and messages;

Participate in creating strategic direction for interactive marketing and
communication objectives.
Oversee a university web portal and the development of a Student Affairs Intranet.
Translate client needs into account and project-specific action plans.
Guide a collaborative priority setting process for web development.
Allocate resources and manage web personnel, equipment and the budget of an
office for web resources and services.
Provide direction to project management and design personnel.
Participate in the university’s web planning and advisory group.

Type of institution

4 Year, State University

Skills required for the job

Minimum three years web consulting or web management experience and higher
education experience. Demonstrated experience in strategic project planning
and implementation in a creative team environment; demonstrated experience
in consulting with design and technical professionals to plan web site development;
understand and effectively communicate with clients about business operations
and information technologies and how the Internet can influence these functions;
excellent written and verbal communication skills; demonstrated success working
collaboratively with clients and content providers to create and maintain web
sites; ability to work independently as well as collaboratively; and ability
to process information quickly and frame issues and solutions. Knowledge of
web site usability and accessibility testing.

Step 2: Assess your skills and knowledge base (in comparison to the
job description).

  • Web design, management, and standards – I am an experienced web
    designer and have been in charge of several web site projects. As the webmaster
    for the UIC Wellness Center , I was responsible for the design, usability,
    and upkeep of over 150 web pages. I am proficient with several web and graphic
    design software packages, including: Dreamweaver MX 2004, PhotoShop 7.0,
    TopStyle 3, and Adobe Illustrator CS. My current position as the OSU student
    affairs web specialist allows me to interact with multiple departments and
    stakeholders. I am currently in the process of creating a web standards document
    which will provide departmental web editors with web creation, design, and
    maintenance protocols.
  • Planning in a team environment – At the University of Northern Iowa
    and at the University of Illinois at Chicago , I was able to be a part of
    several committees and planning bodies. At UIC, I participated in orientation
    planning committees, student-funding committees which included the creation
    of a new student fee structure, and have been a part of a university-wide
    web site “look and feel” initiative. I co-coordinated several
    events and programs in which several university departments participated.
    Currently I am working with OSU Admissions and the Publications Office to
    implement a new web site for Prospective International St udents.
  • Collaboration – I believe that throughout my career I have collaborated
    with as many people and departments as I possibly could. Collaborative efforts
    strengthen the efforts of an ind ividual and can lead to cost savings.
  • Accessibility and usability – I believe that all web sites should
    be user-friendly ( usa ble) and accessible. Every web site that I have created
    has been tested for compliance with section 508 guidelines and has been looked
    at by core users before public release. It is thrilling to navigate the web
    with a screen reader. Used for users who are visually impaired, screen readers
    can provide useful insight regarding web site design and usa bility.
  • Assessment – All student affairs programs need to have an assessment
    component. Web sites are not exempt from this statement. Web statistics can
    yield information which is extremely valuable to enrollment management professionals,
    administrators, and public affairs departments. I have instituted assessment
    programs, in some degree, for every university web site that I have been
    responsible for. Assessment data of this sort has provided me with user demographics,
    browser resolutions, unique visitors, and “popular pages” data.

Important goals you will need to pursue to gain the preparation the
job requires.

  • Knowledge of university web portals – OSU currently does not have
    a web portal. I am presently conducting research into the efficacy of various
    portal applications. A web portal project can last for years and I hope that
    I can play a role in the actual development and implementation of a portal
    at OSU. In researching web portals, I have tried to keep in mind some of
    the student development theories which might be relevant in a web portal
    discussion. Sanford ’s Challenge & Support Theory, Astin’s
    Involvement Theory, and the Theory of Marginality & Mattering by Schlossberg
    can all be taken from the “brick and mortar” student affairs
    office to the World Wide Web. For more information, please read, “Theory
    to practice: Real to virtual, the new environment” by E. Stoller.
  • Develop a collaborative planning process that leads to a Student Affairs
    Web strategy which will include an assessment component I
    plan on working with key technology stakeholders in Enrollment Management,
    University Housing and Dining Services, Central Web Services, Publication
    Services, and University Marketing to create an OSU web standards document
    and plan which will hopefully include an assessment component. It will be
    challenging to get everyone on the same “page”, but it will lead
    to a better web site for OSU students.
  • Implement web initiatives that support the university’s enrollment – Before
    I started my assistantship I had no idea about the functions of enrollment
    management departments. I really want to immerse myself in this area. The
    Admissions web site is in need of several changes. It currently is not very
    user-friendly and it is barely accessible. A new web services manager for
    Enrollment Management will provide me with a mentor and a “techie” peer.
  • Provide direction to project management and design personnel – The
    decentralized nature of the OSU web makes it difficult for users to have
    a consistent experience. In my role as the student affairs web specialist
    (yes, that is my title!) I hope to bring a standardized approach to the entire
    web development process and build up a sense of community within key personnel.
    A semi-work related project that I am interested in pursuing is a re-design
    of the OSU Public Safety web site. It does not look like an OSU web site
    and it is not user-friendly. I hope that protocols and standards will help
    alleviate web sites which are not up to par.
  • Participate in the university’s web planning and advisory group – I
    was recently asked to join two separate committees. The first committee’s
    goal is to create accessibility guidelines for technology at OSU. The second
    committee is an ad hoc technology think tank with the goal of being innovative
    with OSU web services. I honestly have no idea if these groups will help
    my development but they sound exciting!

Step 3: Personal philosophy statement about yourself, your beliefs
about students and your values as a student affairs professional.

My personal philosophy is based around the concept that I can make the world
a better place by making web sites better. Web sites are integral to the success
of a university. Student affairs departments are integral to the success of
students. It would seem then that student affairs departments would need to
have good web sites in order to support both the university or college in which
they reside, and the student whom the serve.

I believe that a web site can have a tremendous impact on the life of a student.
A highly usable and accessible web site can make a students learning experiences
more efficient and can lead to a positive view of the university. The first
experience that most students have with a university is online. Their first
impression is crucial in their decision about which school they will attend.

It is a fallacy that today’s students are all technologically competent.
Students maybe quite adept at entertaining themselves with Playstations and
instant messaging, but how does this relate to their ability to navigate a
university’s web site?

A university web site can provide students with a multitude of resources
and services. The Director of Web Resources and Services positions compliments
my personal philosophy about the web and its ever-changing role in the lives
of students. I have consistently incorporated elements of assessment and student
development theory in my web work. I also keep accessibility and usability
at the core of any web project. It is my hope that all students will use our
web site, that we will assess that use, and that we will provide a continually
evolving “virtual” environment.

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