Volume 80 | Issue 5
September 2012

IPDS Held at Purdue University for First Time

IPDS: New Professionals Orientation has been a standard introduction to the college union and student activities field for more than 40 years. However, 2012 was the first time it was held at Purdue University.

June 21–25, 41 participants converged at the Purdue Memorial Union. Attendees had positions in operations, conference services, activities, marketing, and more. Some were entering the profession from a career in another field and others were just out of graduate school. They represented 29 schools, 22 states, and 12 of the 15 ACUI regions.

Overall, participants rated their experience 4.4 out of a maximum 5.0. And as in past years, 100 percent said they were able to build a professional network through the program and 100 percent would recommend the program to others.

“I thought the program was tremendous,” said one attendee. “Thank you for the opportunity to jump out of my silo and learn more about student unions.”

The program team created the curriculum based on research identifying expertise that new professionals lack. Specifically these needs included assessment, campus politics, resource management, marketing and fundraising, supervision, and performance appraisal.

“The programs on assessment and motivation were most important to new professionals and [aren’t] always something your supervisor has time to teach,” one participant said.

Another individual said of the experience, “I feel fully equipped to make assessment a priority in my department.”

New this year was a concept the program team called, “Speed Sharing.” Similar to speed dating, it was a quick way for participants to hear about innovations happening on other campuses. Each person had three minutes to share their innovation in a small group. After everyone in the groups had shared, participants were again shuffled into new groups for the second round. The same occurred for the third round. In this way, no one was with the same member of their cohort twice. Additionally, because each person had to share their innovation three times—once in each round—they were able to hone it, which participants said yielded outcomes in terms of their oral communication skills.

“Hearing the initiatives that other schools and people are pursuing refreshed the way I look at my situation and gave me a few cool ideas that I can try to work into my department,” one participant said.

Ultimately, in addition to the educational content, it was the formal and informal networking that made the IPDS experience so beneficial to attendees.

“There is great value in hearing what experts have to say about the constituent elements of our profession and how to excel at them,” an attendee reflected. “Couple it with the opportunity to speak freely and candidly with other professionals at our level in other environments, and the conversations get pretty enlightening pretty fast.”

As with previous classes of IPDS, the hope is that participants will continue to share resources and rely on each other now that they have returned to their respective campuses.

One participant commented on the community of professionals formed: “Sometimes we feel like we are in a bubble with our jobs and the trials/tribulations we have with the job. Seeing everyone have similar stories and listen how they persevere through it all helped us bond as a group/cohort/network!”