As we near the end of the academic year (those of us at schools on the quarter system have a bit longer to go), we have many conversations regarding how to celebrate our achievements from the last year. Most of us in Student Affairs are so busy throughout the year, it’s hard to find time to stop and reflect on the amazing things that have transpired over the last 9-10 months. I find that taking time to celebrate accomplishments is a way to help provide closure for anyone who may be leaving a team at the end of the year. Therefore, I try to be intentional about what such an event should look like.
I supervise about 40 student staff members in our customer service desks on campus. These students are amazing paraprofessionals, who play a significant role in the success of our department. While I try to find ways to celebrate throughout the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can reflect upon our amazing accomplishments this past year. Nearly half of my staff will be graduating this June too, so I want to honor their legacy by taking time to celebrate their amazing contributions to our team.
Our department has gone from having a major event at the end of the year for all student staff (residential life, operations, facilities, dining, etc.) to allowing each unit to find a way to celebrate on their own. While a big event is fun, it usually ended up being focused on one group over others, and often resulted in hurt feelings. Not exactly the intent behind a celebration. Since deciding against having a major event for everyone, it is up to the leadership within each unit to figure out how to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year.
Last year, I started giving an “OSU Alumni” mug to each student staff member who graduated. I’ve decided to turn this into a tradition, and combine it with an end of the year event surrounding the various accomplishments we’ve achieved as a team over the year. My goal is to find ways to honor each graduate so they are aware of how much they have contributed to our customer service team. Student staff often perform thankless jobs, yet they are essential to maintaining the high level of service our student customers expect. Taking time to enjoy the successes we’ve had since September will hopefully help those who are graduating find ways to make peace with the uncertainty of whatever the future may have in store for them. I am confident each one will go on to do amazing things!
So how do you celebrate the end of your academic year?