Posted December 18, 2013 by Laura Rogalski 

Transitioning into a New Position

I recently took a position at a new institution and underwent a variety of transitions in the process—both good and bad.

Let's start with the bad first. The transition occurred in the middle of the semester, which is a challenge to anyone in any position. The extra challenge came in the surrounding circumstances: new building, brand new staff (hired prior to my arrival with little training and oversight), construction projects still happening, no operational processes, procedures, or plans, heavy involvement and high expectations from the Board of Trustees and campus community for the success of the space, and no budget.StartNewJobPost

The good: Blank slate from which to create programs and services; student managers who have turned into true leaders; freedom to create all of the policies, protocols, and procedures myself while learning the ins and outs of the building; support from my supervisors to dedicate as many resources as needed to get the building operations off the ground; a programming board that has begun to understand the impact that their programs are having on the community; and an unlimited budget. Sort of.

The biggest transition I think that a professional faces when starting at a new institution is trying to understand the campus culture. What do the students here do for fun? How do they find out about programs? Are they heavily involved or intellectually focused? What programs work/don't work? What are the expectations from the institution for faculty and staff? What is the support network like? What are the internal policies and procedures that are unique to this institution and that impact day-to-day operations of a staff member? What is the mission of the institution and how is it reflected in the daily programs and services of the campus?

While I feel as though I am slowly beginning to understand these nuances and the campus culture, it takes a lot of patience and observation to fully get there. Good communication with your supervisor and having them provide the resources necessary to make your transition successful are equally important. Without that support system in place, it can begin to cloud your ability to complete even the smallest of tasks.

I know that it will take more than a few months to fully acclimate, but I have found that my resources and support systems within ACUI have helped to ease the "transition jitters." My days are more structured and organized, and I finally am able to begin thinking forward to the next semester.

What was your experience transitioning into your current position? What helped you the most along the way? How have you helped a colleague's transition into your area a little easier?

Laura Rogalski

Laura Rogalski is the Director of Student Activities, Involvement, & Leadership at Trinity College.

She is responsible for the operations of Vernon Social, a multipurpose space on campus, the Vernon Social Programming Board, the Ivy Yearbook, as well as serving as a support for the advising and event planning of any student organization on campus. She has been an active volunteer with ACUI for the past five years, both on the regional and international level. Laura has her master's degree in counselor education with a concentration in student development in higher education from Central Connecticut State University.


Great post Laura! So excited for you in your new position!
Comment posted 12/20/2013 9:03 AM
Great article Laura! My transition to ACUI was truly unique in that I got to have Jack Voorhees here for my first three weeks on the job. After that I'd say the thing that helped me was to LISTEN, then offer ideas later. Number one in any situation like this - now job, joining a new committee, etc. Have a great holiday and rest before the next "new" semester.
Michelle Smith
Comment posted 12/20/2013 11:22 AM
Laura Well written and articulated and best of luck this year. Una
Comment posted 01/07/2014 11:46 AM
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