Friday, October 19th, 2018

Top reasons why you should meet with your faculty advisors!

University of Southern Maine Image Bank

Posted on February 06, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

By Janis Albright and Kim Charmatz, Professional Advisors

This article is the second in a series on the benefits of working closely with your Faculty Advisor. Below are the responses when we interviewed Lecturer Holly Bean, from the Recreation and Leisure Studies

Department, and Robert Sanford, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, and Department Chair.

Interview #1 with: Holly Bean, MS, CTRS, Lecturer in Recreation and Leisure Studies, Therapeutic Recreation

How does your department build community with your students?

Because we are a “close- knit” department, it is easy for me and other faculty to get to know each student and work with their strengths. I take pride in knowing all of them and think they appreciate that their department is there for them. Because our major is a “helping people” major, we also try to model the behavior students would show to their future clients.

What advice can you share regarding understanding course content and sequencing? We work in conjunction with Professional Advisors to help students see how our classes build on each other. For example, students need to know which classes to take before they qualify for their senior Internship.

Some classes are linked to certification, so are time sensitive with regards to when to take them. By meeting with your Faculty Advisor, you can ensure that course content builds on previous learning. By following your graduation planner, you will have the most cost effective road map.

What advice can you share with your students about internships, future career options, and grad school? I have enjoyed writing references for my students. In addition, our department works to create new opportunities for our students to continue their education goals so they have a seamless pathway to grad school and meaningful careers.

In addition, I keep our Department’s Facebook page current and post positions there. I also teach my students how to search for jobs. Finally, our internship program provides experience with many therapeutic agencies and can often lead to good jobs.

Interview #2 with: Professor Robert Sanford, Environmental Science and Policy Department How does your department build community with your students? Students are involved in hands-on experiences from the beginning. We have a “field immersion” course for students in their first semester that includes team building by sharing what students have in common, employing environmental skills, and building a chance to get to know professors and faculty advisors. The department has an active student-led Environmental Club, a peer adviser, and undergraduate student teaching and research assistants. There are many events for students to be involved in, including a fall welcome picnic, presentations, speakers, hikes, and fund-raisers. All students have a faculty adviser from the moment they enter the major, in addition to their professional adviser, and they work with both.

What advice can you share regarding understanding course content and sequencing? Faculty constantly evaluate the curriculum in the program, as informed by their experiences as environmental professionals in the larger community.

There are a number of resources on the department website including a one-page degree checklist, field immersion reviews, and self- evaluations that explain course reasoning and how courses are connected. We encourage close collaboration between students, faculty advisers, and professional advisers.

We advise in context of the student-developed career goals. Defining your goal helps you to specialize your educational experience, to best prepare for the job market and graduate school.

What advice can you share with your students about internships, future career options, and grad school? Establishing a relationship with a professor in your department is crucial for career and graduate school planning.

He or she can help you with professional connections, resume review, review of professional certifications, and letters of recommendation. The professional field is small and having a network is important. A relationship with a professor should be ongoing, including long after graduating.

We require all students in our department to have an internship. They are a great way to try out a field and learn other relevant skills. Internships should be treated as a job, including use of a cover letter and resume when applying. We encourage students to be open to new experiences.


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