Category Archives: Mentorship

Why Not Me? Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

by: Shelly N. Laurenzo

Amidst the morning hustle of getting ready for work and a toddler ready for preschool I hear a light bing come from my cell phone. Thinking it might be a traffic alert, dreaded with my 35-mile commute, I hesitantly picked up my phone and instead saw a calendar alert for a director’s group meeting the next day. Director’s group? Why would I be getting a calendar invite to director’s group? And then I remembered, I’m now a member of director’s group. A few days prior I was promoted in the office and now held a seat in at the table of my office’s leadership team. As soon as my decaffeinated brain processed this information my second thought was, I’m not ready for this. Clearly this is a mistake. I’m an imposter.

Continue reading Why Not Me? Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Looking for a Job in Student Affairs? Show Your Potential

by Jodi Koslow Martin

Last week, I stayed late after work for a panel discussion on immigration, hosted by our Office of Diversity. Two of the speakers on the panel are current faculty members at my newest employee’s graduate school. NE (New Employee) is finishing up his dissertation, in his early thirties, and has been married for a couple of years. I asked NE if he wanted to go to dinner before the panel discussion and invited his spouse to join us. The restaurant I chose was near their apartment so I drove NE and his spouse met us there. In the car, NE noted that if we were in the late 1950’s, Mad Men era I would be a man and we would likely be going to his house where his wife would likely have made dinner for us. NE is right…this picture would have likely looked different 60 years ago. My gender was a noticeable factor in the context of this situation.

While I could write many blog posts on Mad Men gender politics (and how the residual effects are still subtly alive and well), I want to note how I appreciated that NE noticed the context of the situation, and that he was able to do so in an appropriate-for-the-moment way. Continue reading Looking for a Job in Student Affairs? Show Your Potential

Letter to my Feminist Hero

by Jennifer R. Keup

Dear Lena,

I have just finished reading your recently-published autobiography, The Road from Serres: A Feminist Odyssey and two sentiments come to mind:  “wow” and “thank you.”

My first sentiment—“wow”—is nothing new with respect to my reaction to you. I still remember being a new graduate student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA many years back.  I felt like I had fooled the admissions committee into admitting me and kept awaiting the tap upon my shoulder from a faculty member who would say, “we are so sorry, we meant for that admissions letter to go to Jennifer Kemp not Jennifer Keup; please gather your things and leave.” Add to that the fact that the larger-than-life Alexander “Sandy” Astin was my assigned advisor (truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever had in my academic and professional career) and that I was one of the few members of my cohort not already convinced that I had a future in the professoriate, and I had an absolutely towering case of imposter syndrome.

As with nearly all of the advisees of one of The Astins and as a graduate student researcher at the Higher Education Research Institute, I truly felt as if I had been academically “adopted” by the both of you even though Sandy was my advisor (talk about winning the graduate student lottery!). And when I met you, I was in absolute awe. In those days when I was a budding feminist, you truly offered a model unlike almost any other I had experienced and, in many ways, were a picture of balance in what I thought should have been contradictions. Continue reading Letter to my Feminist Hero


by Julia Overton-Healy 

All too often, as a Student Affairs professional woman who coaches a lot of young college women, I hear women students start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” They are usually asking a question –perfectly encouraged since they are, after all, trying to learn something; or expressing a thought—again, wonderfully welcome because we are in a classroom and thought is our main currency of exchange. Sometimes they want to share an opinion; always a happy moment since it indicates they’ve thought about the information they now understand and have weighed it against other information they have and formulated a decision about the entire process. Often they are simply reacting to someone else’s comment; again, highly welcome since conversation and discussion is one of the best ways we learn about our world.   So I am baffled when I hear “I’m sorry but” as a prelude to a question, thought, opinion or reaction—all of which are welcome in my class!

I’ve started interrupting my students now when I hear them do this. I’ll just butt right in—rude, I know—and ask them “what are you sorry for?” Continue reading #NotSorry

Modern Mentorship: Look Laterally

by Jennifer R. Keup

Mentorship is almost ubiquitous in the leadership literature. Find yourself a good mentor and you will receive sage advice, have a strong advocate in your field, enjoy a ready reference from an influential professional, and gain entrance to rooms and conversations that are normally reserved for those at levels above your own. By association, your mentors will allow you to taste the nectar of top-shelf leadership roles and try on the trappings of your next professional positions. The formula for finding professional mentors is also pretty established: find someone you admire in your field who occupies a position a few rungs above you on the professional ladder and ask for their guidance. The potential mentor will be flattered by your invitation, identifies you as someone worthy of investment, and you ride off in to the sunset of mentorship bliss. Perfect, no?

In my experience: not always.

This traditional model of leadership causes professionals, especially women, to view a mentor much like a savior or a hero in a fairy tale. As Sheryl Sandberg says:

We all grew up on…“Sleeping Beauty,” which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after.

In my own experience, I have generally followed the traditional rules and searched up the professional ladder for my mentors. However, as I have progressed in my career, my professional advancement has left me with a pool of far fewer individuals above me from which to select a mentor. Continue reading Modern Mentorship: Look Laterally