The Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life at Ithaca College is sponsoring a new certificate program for graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in student affairs and higher education.
The Emerging Leaders in Student Affairs Certificate Program, which began Fall 2018, is open to all students at the college. The program must be completed within two years but could be completed in as little as one semester, said Bonnie Prunty, dean of students in the Department of Student Affairs and Campus Life. Prunty said the program provides direction on the necessary steps to take in order to obtain a career in student affairs and higher education.
The program was created because many recent graduates of the college are pursuing careers in higher education and student affairs, Prunty said. Prunty and her office wanted to provide students with the necessary information they need to succeed in these fields. One student has successfully completed the certificate program, while 42 students have attended at least one of the three required sessions toward completing the certificate.
“Ithaca College itself hires a number of folks into kind of entry-level positions that are directly out of undergrad, and some of them are our own alums and recent graduates,” Prunty said. “If we know that we do that, why not have a program that gives our students or interested grad students some basic training and preparation so that they’re even better prepared to move into a role like that?”
The program is just one track of the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) that provides students with interactive workshops to develop and improve personal leadership skills.
To complete the certificate, students must attend six SLI sessions. These courses provide students with the necessary information they need to pursue a career in student affairs as well as allow them to develop and improve leadership skills.
Three of the SLI courses are directly related to the certificate program focusing on higher education and career preparation. The other three are subsets of the SLI program. The topics change each semester, but the theme of the sessions remains the same: Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading in a Diverse World, Prunty said.
The SLI sessions are presented by a wide range of faculty and staff on campus. Depending on the topic and the presenter, the way in which the sessions are formatted varies. However, there has been a push to make them more interactive, Prunty said.
The sessions for the spring semester cover topics like “How Remarkable Women Lead,” which is being held March 6, and “The Word ‘Conflict’ Scares Me,” on March 7. Times and locations for the events have not yet been announced.
Prunty said she and her office expect high student interest in the program this spring because the SLI sessions held during the fall semester were completely full.
Senior Hayley Kretchmer completed the program in hopes of pursuing a career in student affairs after graduation, focusing on the freshman experience.
“I so desperately want to pursue a career in students affairs after graduating this May and felt like I would gain a lot of valuable knowledge through the specific SLI sessions,” Kretchmer said.
Freshman Catherine Fox said she would be interested in pursuing the certificate because it would provide her with increased leadership skills and a broader idea of potential career options she could pursue after graduation.
“The certificate program really piques my interest, especially from a leadership standpoint,” Fox said. “Being able to improve on my leadership abilities while learning about different outlets I could express them in would be extremely beneficial.”
In order to raise interest for the program and careers in higher education, the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life is hosting a conference for students in collaboration with other departments across campus so students can learn about career opportunities offered on college campuses, Prunty said.
The conference, “You Can Get Paid For That? Careers in Higher Education,” is a one-day conference Feb. 16. The conference is free and limited to 100 students who had to register by Feb. 8.
Prunty said many students are unaware that the skill sets they possess can be utilized for careers on college campuses. The conference is available to show students that it is a viable career option right out of a four-year degree program.
“There are lots of students who work on our campus who work in IT [Information Technology] and people who have business backgrounds, folks who work in a lot of areas where there are offices and departments that need employees with those skill sets on a college or university,” Prunty said. “Not a lot of people necessarily think about that as an employment opportunity when they graduate.”