How I Work

With a hefty nod to the folks at for the idea and questions, we’ve decided to share a little bit about how the bloggers at SA Women Talk Tech work.

by Valerie Heruska

Location: Bloomington, IN
Current Gig: Assistant Director for Residence Life, Academic Initiatives
One word that best describes how you work: organizedchaos
Current mobile device: Smartphone: iPhone5. Tablets: iPad 2
Current computer:  MacBook Pro with a 13″ monitor. Clearly I drank the Apple juice.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why? 

I love Feedly, especially for personal purposes: saving recipes. I also use Evernote on all of my devices for work meetings and I can easily transfer notes that I take into emails to my colleagues and students. I’m use I’ll figure out more uses for both, but for right now, this is how I use them.

For my running, I use Nike+ GPS and for when I am in a new place, I use map my run online and transfer my route to the app. on my phone.

My workflow is like this: 

  • I take every single agenda for a meeting I receive as an attachment in an email and automatically drop it into Evernote. It allows me to type my notes into each of my Evernote agendas and I am able to use tags to figure out what I need.
  • I have a gigantic dry erase board in my office which stores all of my random ideas and also a huge checklist of things that I need to do. I also resort to using beautiful post its to tack things up on the board as well.

What’s your workspace setup like? 

I have a beautiful cherry-oak desk, in an office with no windows.  I have a monitor, which a stand so it is at eye-level. I also have a stand for my iPad and frequently bring my MBP to my office when I am working on graphics. I like to surround myself with things that inspire me: books, plants, pictures. I have a duo coarkboard and dry-erase board, which is great for putting my favorite things near me, without cluttering my small office space. I also have a small desk lamp and a standing lamp because the fluorescent bulbs give me migraines.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Do something during your day that makes you happy. Also, if you’re in an office with no windows… or even if you aren’t… go outside and take a walk. Move around often and clear your mind. Don’t sweat the small stuff… seriously, let it go.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

My nutribullet. I make some really tasty (and chock full of energy) beverages for any time I get the craving for something sweet. It’s definitely something I  enjoy having and it keeps my blood sugar at even levels so I can be productive at my best time: the morning.

What do you listen to while you work? P

I have a pandora station that I named after me: Valtastic. It features the following artists: Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Nikka Costa, and soulful voices.

Women’s Running Magazine. I wish I had more to say about reading, but I haven’t been able to get to the library. 

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? P

What’s your sleep routine like?

I’m usually in bed by 10PM and shortly asleep thereafter. I’m usually up at 5:30/6AM. I get up around 5AM when it is lighter out in the morning.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? P

Why not go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is. – Mark Twain

How I Work

Ageism in Student Affairs Technology

by Kristen Abell

Recently I read an interesting article about ageism in the magical land of tech – Silicon Valley that highlights some of the difficulty of being an older male in technology start-ups in a field that treasures a young bro mentality (and never mind the fact that this article focused ENTIRELY on ageism in regards to men – that’s a whole other post or five). Because I work in technology within student affairs, this of course started my mind churning about how ageism plays a role (or doesn’t) when it comes to our field.

I’d love to hear perspectives from other campuses, but if your campus is anything like mine, then the assumption is that the younger you are, the more you “get” technology. And by technology, I think what I’m generally talking about here is the web and computers – at least based on what others seem to perceive it as. Have we not coined the term “digital native” in higher ed?

And yet, when I look at who holds the main technology positions on campus, it is generally middle-aged or older men (and the occasional woman, but mostly men). So maybe we don’t hold to the ageist perceptions of Silicon Valley entirely. That being said, I know that when I start talking technology at student affairs conferences, at the ripe old age of 37, I’m usually either the youngest person in the room (for the 101 sessions) or the oldest person in the room (for the more in-depth sessions – nothing like having a Ferris Bueller joke fall flat because no one in your session has seen it).

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the classism inherent in our perception that all young people understand technology – we’re making an assumption that all of them have access to the latest and greatest gadgets, tools and toys.

I’m curious – do you feel there is ageism when it comes to technology in student affairs? Are we similar to Silicon Valley, or do we differ in our inclusivity? Please share your thoughts!

Ageism in Student Affairs Technology

Productivity Tech Tips: Google Tabs, Labels & Filters

by Jess Samuels

Everyone has felt overwhelmed by email at one time or another, either because of the sheer quantity of it, or because of all of the “to do” items that get created because of it.  I am going give you two simple tricks that I use to help manage my inbox and keep calm when the emails are in  rapid fire mode.

Google Tabs

If you aren’t yet using google tabs, you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity – to clear your inbox, and most importantly, to clear your mind.  Google has brilliantly created a system for automatic organization of your emails into categories:

  • Primary

  • Social: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

  • Promotions: Deals, offers, and other marketing emails

  • Updates: confirmations, receipts, bills

  • Forums: online discussion groups, mailing lists

Before Google Tabs I would get annoyed by any email I received during work hours that took me off track.  While it is nice to receive the occasional email update from Facebook, you don’t want to feel buried in updates in order to get to what is important.   What I find when using Google Tabs is that I diligently work through email in my primary tab and that when I have time, I am able to look at all of the updates, mailing lists, and offers together.  The mere act of clumping these types of emails makes me so much more receptive to receiving them!  Google Tabs is smart enough to learn as well, so if a particular mailing list is SUPER important, you can assign it to go to your primary inbox instead.  So if you aren’t using google tabs yet – give it a try.

Google Labels & Filters

Many folks use their email as a giant to do list.  If there is an email in the inbox you know something needs to be done with it – however, when you get behind in your email or check your email on your phone it is hard to keep actively managing your inbox.  The key is to use labels to tag to do items, items you are waiting for and projects.

A browser add-on, such as “ActiveInbox for Gmail” is one way to do this – however, you can also use the same system with your existing labels.  Creating a “!Action” label, and a “!Waitingon” label.  The ! keeps the labels at the top of your labels.  Don’t forget to add a bright color to each label, so that they stick out.  To take labels to the next level, you should use automatic filters to attach colorful labels to important emails, like your boss’ emails.

Productivity Tech Tips: Google Tabs, Labels & Filters

SA Satire: Comedy or Social Commentary?

by Niki Messmore

Student affairs is known as a ‘fun’ field. After all, when your conventions include respected scholars, innovative workshops, drag shows, organized cheers, and a ‘big gay dance’, how could you not be fun?!
Our sense of humor is outstanding but some folks have wondered – is it ever off-putting?
Last week #FailedNASPASessionProposals began trending, thanks to tweets by Pete Pereira, and amassed around 1,000 tweets over several days. Tweets consisted of silly humor – but not so silly that it does not speak to some social commentary. Tweets under the hashtag included:

  • How to be innovative in Student Affairs: Do what the private sector did 5 years ago – @jeffjackson
  • I got my masters for this? – @AValiavska
  • Finding Mr. White: Hiring Your Next SSAO – @mcamike
  • Navigating the new combined ACPA/NASPA – @chrisconzen
  • We Totally Value Individuality, Unless You Have Visible Tattoos or Piercings – @MarciKWalton

There was critique that perhaps the hashtag was too negative, or at the very least it was speaking to some very real issues within the field that needed to be processed.

  • Using #FailedNASPASessionProposals: How to Sub-Tweet an Entire Profession – @js_hicks
  • Am I the only one having conflicting feelings towards the #FailedNASPAsessionProposals posts?-@AnnieGreaney
  • I hope someone is archiving #FailedNASPASessionProposals; not for the humor, but to identify trends/themes of unrest in #studentaffairs – @StacyLOliver

Yet there were many others who disagreed, and said that folks were reading too much into it.

This isn’t the only example of social media methods to make fun of the field. The popular tumblr accounts WhatShouldWeCallStudentAffairs and Student Affairs Grad Student regularly make witty remarks coupled with gif; not to mention all of the other accounts related to functional areas like Stories from the RA and Admissions Problems. And of course there is an endless amount of joke SA accounts (some are better than others – or as one SA colleague states, they are all a joke).

What are your thoughts? Is this all good-spirited fun? Or do some of these social media trends speak to some issues that we should work on resolving, rather than joking about? Please consider leaving a comment or tweeting at @NikiMessmore.

SA Satire: Comedy or Social Commentary?

Keeping Organized – The Old-Fashioned Way

By Kathryn Magura

I love technology and gadgets. I think I’ve made that clear over my time blogging here. I’m usually someone who could be considered an early adopter of technology, social media, and fun gizmos to use. That said, the one thing I haven’t really found a way to utilize technology for is keeping organized.

What do I mean by organized? All the things I need to get done: work, life, whatever. I use an iPad for work, and keep my work to-dos fairly organized on my iPad, but I’ve never really found a good app anywhere that’s helped me keep track of all the things I need to do in a way that makes it easy and intuitive enough for me to want to keep using. I’ve dabbled in apps like Evernote, but I’ve never really been able to make it stick.

As I’ve grappled with trying to figure out why I haven’t found a good way to organize my life via technology, I’ve noticed some colleagues who have gone back to a more traditional/old-fashioned route to keep organized. One of my coworkers uses a notecard system to keep everything she has going on with work and life organized. Each notecard is broken up into categories, and then stored by topic. I am continually impressed with how well this system seems to work for my coworker, but have also felt intimidated trying to see if I could adapt her system for my needs.

I have spent most of the last two weeks on-boarding a new staff member. One of the first things I noticed was the black notebook my new staff member carried around with her everywhere. During meetings and conversations, I’d see her make note in the notebook, and it got me curious. During our 1-on-1 this week, I finally asked about the notebook, and how exactly she used it to keep organized. Apparently the method she used to keep organized is called bullet journaling. I didn’t know what this was either, so she explained it. Thankfully, the person who devised this method created a video to help explain: 

Pretty cool, right? I decided I wanted to give bullet journaling a try, to see if I could keep all the competing priorities in my life organized in a way that keeps me as productive as possible. I will be sure to keep you all posted on my progress along the way.

So tell me, how do you stay organized? What tips do you have?

Keeping Organized – The Old-Fashioned Way

Follow Friday: Personality Edition

by Kristen Abell

What the heck does “personality edition” mean? Well, it was the best way I could think to describe the following collection of folks who tweet and blog about introversion and extroversion or MBTI information.

First up is the fabulous Amma Marfo, who you may have heard just published a book on introversion in student affairs. She’s pretty awesome like that. Amma has been tweeting and blogging about introversion and extroversion – both in student affairs and beyond – for quite some time now. She’s a fab follow if you ask me.

Next up is Chris Conzen – who I also recommend following for his general content curation skillz. If there’s an article about introversion – especially in the workplace – he will have tweeted it, Facebooked it, and/or posted it on Google+ or LinkedIn. He even has the occasional witty quip to add to his posts. He also blogs, and I’d highly recommend giving his thoughts a read.

If you’re following Amma and/or Chris, chances are you’re already following the artistic Sue Caulfield. Sue also tends to post about introversion, and even better, her posts tend to be illustrated. She is also the awesome illustrator of Amma’s book, so how can you not want to follow her? Seriously, check her out – I promise you’ll thank me.

If we’re talking introversion/extroversion and MBTI, there’s no better follow than Lisa Endersby. Not only is she one of my favoritest extroverts, she posts some quality info pertaining to the MBTI and has posted some especially great content about the interplay of introversion and extroversion. She’s awesome like that.

Finally, no mention of the MBTI in student affairs would be complete without mentioning Debra Sanborn, who shares not only her own research on this topic but also the most current research of others in the field. It’s good stuff, people.

Who do you recommend following for info about personality in student affairs?

Follow Friday: Personality Edition

Simplifying the Job Search

by Valerie Heruska

It’s that fantastic time of year again when the job searching is at an all-time high. Many grad students and profesionals in student affairs are looking for that first or next step. We are all familiar with certain websites: , The Placement Exchange, and just to name a few. Of course, there are also the individual websites of colleges and universities.  When I was in the job searching process, I would find myself looking at so many different websites each day and trying to keep track of those websites was really a pain in the tush.

What I didn’t realize was that there was another way that I could simplify the entire job search process: Use my RSS Feed. Many websites, allow you to save items to your RSS feed. My favorite feed at the time was Google Reader (RIP, Pour one out for my homie), but now it is Feedly.  So here’s how to make it work:

1. Save your searches

Almost every job search site allows you to save your job searches and add them to your RSS Feed reader.  Just scroll to the bottom of any search results page and click the big orange RSS feed button.

2.  Keep an eye on your favorite institutions

We all have crushes on institutions — seriously, it’s the one that you check every day for new jobs. I am willing to admit that I had a crush on George Mason University and I know one day I will work there.  If your favorite institution has an RSS feed for its job posts, add that to your reader, too. 

3. Organize by Skills and Focus

There are so many things that we student affairs professional do: residence life, student activities, multicultural student affairs, etc. It’s really easy to sort through the different job types by using your RSS reader. Now that you’ve brought all your searches and company postings into one spot, you can organize them into categories. That way, you can focus on positions that have similar requirements at the same time, which will get you in the groove as you’re adapting your resume and cover letter for each job. 

4.  Scan Star and Send

The absolute best thing about using RSS feeds is that after you have everything set up, you can scan the jobs in your reader from anywhere you have internet or mobile access. Use your phone to look for jobs while you’re away from your computer.  While you’re scanning, star or flag the positions you want to apply to, and you’ll be able to easily go back and find them when you’re ready to prepare your resumes.


Hopefully these tips will help you stay organized and focused while using a little bit of technology to help you on your way to job success.


Adapted from: Really Simple Search: The Job Search Tool You Should Be Using

Simplifying the Job Search