The Career Wellness Center: Enhancing Your #ACPA19 Experience

By Kelvin E. Rutledge

Career.

While the six letter word is short in length, it is heavy with significance. The complexity of balancing vocation, social identities, personal values, interests, skills, and opinions is a challenge for many. Pioneers of our profession often say there were many struggles along the way and emerging voices echo their sentiments. The Career Development & Advancement team honors this truth and centers it for the annual convention.

For decades, the ACPA annual convention has been proud to offer Career Central at Convention. This on-site experience has served as a hub for job placement and other unique opportunities. While the convention experience will continue to offer on-site services, it is a priority to ensure the Convention is providing a relevant resource to our collective membership. The ACPA19 Convention is proud to launch The Career Wellness Center. The goal of the center is to offer a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to engaging the realities of the profession while building stronger professional networks and connections. Regardless of one’s location in the journey, everyone could use a healthy check-in on one’s career. Here’s how we hope to accomplish this:

The Career Wellness Center invites you to be transparent about who you are, your professional trajectory, and your goals for the future. The center aims for convention attendees to give themselves permission to ask “what will this profession actually mean for me in the next 5 to 10 years?” To do that, attendees will unpack the positive, negative, and challenging components of this profession. Attendees will explore the realities of being a whole person who works within higher education and student affairs. There is no “one-size fits all” career path in this profession. The responsibility to provide educational programs, dialogue opportunities, and employability connection points to engage with this reality is important.

The Career Wellness Center invites you to give voice to who you are outside of your professional role. Higher education and student affairs professionals are partners, parents, caregivers, champions, healers, and supporters outside of the day-to-day positions. As a collective, we do a lot and very rarely do we fully honor the “professional and _______” identity we have. The center provides opportunities to discuss and reflect on timely topics such as dual-career couples in addition to financial planning in higher education. The responsibility to ensure our attendees can gain clarity, insight, and knowledge from colleagues is important.

The Career Wellness Center invites you to evaluate the systems and structures of higher education today. Our roles in higher education continue to change and evolve over time. Due to this, our space must allow for critical discourse. The intersection of one’s professional and ethical practice will be discussed in relation to the strategic imperative for racial justice and decolonization. The current and emerging issues of functional areas will be examined. The coded language of “job fit”, “best practices”, and “thought leadership” will be holistically evaluated.  The responsibility to create courageous conversation is important.

Ultimately, the Career Development & Advancement team is aware the “career” thing can be challenging for many. The Career Wellness Center will exist to affirm and connect with exactly how individuals show up. We hope you consider spending time with the Center in Boston and we hope we can enhance your #ACPA19 experience.

Kelvin Rutledge (he/him/his pronouns) is currently the Director of Career & Professional Development at Southern Connecticut State University and a doctoral candidate in the higher education program at FSU. Kelvin serves as the 2019 Career Development & Advancement Chair. As an avid lemonade drinker and TGIT live tweeter, Kelvin enjoys finding the sweet intersections of life through interaction, conversations, and dialogue and seeks to find opportunities where career services and social justice intersect. Kelvin ultimately aspires to contribute to the field of student affairs through professional practice, scholarship, and research. Find him on Twitter @MrAbsoluteZero.

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