About the Author


Victoria Estrella Worch 38 years old

The A to Z of Transferable Skills in Student Affairs

If someone offered you a job outside of student affairs, could you name the skills you would bring with you? What if you had a chance to move to an area of the country (or world!) you have always wanted to experience; do you think you have that courage to work outside the field of student affairs?

I’ve shared before that unexpected life changes lead to me taking a break from work. With the arrival of twins and my husband’s company closing, we both had to make a choice that would work best for our growing family. As a result, I have to find a new job in a new area. As I continue on that journey to find my next place of work, I am discovering that my work in student affairs is very unique, but at the same time, our field of student affairs offers tons of transferable skills!

Think about the favorite part of your job. Now think about what other kinds of college jobs, academic or student services-related, your skills can apply to. Studies continue to show that you will change jobs approximately seven times in your life time. At some point, you will face budget cuts. You might come to a time when you want to be closer to a loved one. You will most likely find a life partner, and their job might affect where you work. And sometimes, you’re just ready to make a change. So, thinking outside the Student Affairs Box is useful!

I wasn’t working on a college campus in 2014, but when I look back at the year, I used a lot of the skills I used in student affairs. So many, in fact, that I came up with the A to Z skills that every Student Affairs professional most likely has and probably use every day.

A – Accounting. Many student affairs professionals, including myself, have experience managing either a Student Activities, Student Center or a Student Body fee. If we don’t document and account for the money of the students, students will come after us with questions and demands. This past year, while serving on my twin club board, I found myself addressing the importance of documenting and accounting of expenses.

B – Budgeting. Every year we teach and advise our AS students on budgeting their money for the upcoming year’s activities. Budget skills are a huge asset at most jobs. When my husband and I moved to one income, we signed up for Mint.com. It helped us handle all the changes, helped me with applying my budgeting skills, and kept us from going over budget.

C – Conflict Resolution. An excellent student affairs pro knows how to defuse a student conflict and to get a group of students or adults to work together. Now imagine two toddlers learning to play together. I’m defusing mini conflicts on a daily basis!

D – Developer. Student development is the foundation for anyone who works in Student Affairs, and the great thing about having developer skills is that you can work easily with others: you have the ability bring home the development side of any project. Every company, city government and non-profit is looking for employees who support the development of their services and others.

When I was co-leading my twin club garage sale, I put an emphasis on growing as a team as much as developing our sale. I started each planning meeting with an ice breaker/check in because I wanted the members to get more out of their experience. At the last planning meeting, I had everyone share what they learned from the experience. It was great to hear everyone’s answers, and I thought the exercise gave us that extra push of energy and support to make it through our three day event.

E – Experience. If there is one thing I learned from my stay at home in 2014 it is that experience is something you take with you to any job, to any activity, to any group. Trust yourself and your talents when you are transitioning to a new campus, a new stage of life or a new career field! Any work experience you have will benefit your new place of work, even if the environments are totally different.

F – First To Know. Student affairs professionals are trained to have a thumb on the student pulse so that our deans, vice presidents and even our college presidents are not caught off guard. Think about it: we work so close with students that we are often the first to hear things. How often have you picked up the phone or walked into the college president’s office right after you heard of a student disruption or an unfavorable agenda item? This skill is huge when building trust, especially with supervisors, at any job or on any team. It shows you have excellent communication skills.

G – Group Facilitation. I’m at my best when I’m facilitating a group. It doesn’t always have to be the actual leading of the meeting: the real skill is to keep the meeting on track, and every group needs that kind of person. At my previous job, my student government officers appreciated me keeping them focused; currently I’m the person sending out the agenda and meeting reminders for my Chamber of Novato Leadership Team. Once we meet, I hand over the facilitation. If I need to, I step in and get us back on course.

H – Hotel Reservations. Need to book hotel and plane reservations for 10 people? Count on a student affairs professional to make it happen! With you have to take student leaders to three conferences a year you get this hotel reservation thing down – an easily transferable skill at any work place.

I – Ice Breakers. I love this skill! In my opinion, one of the top proficiencies that student affairs professionals bring to any department is the ability to lead a group in an ice breaker. Ice Breakers are huge! They build trust. They break up a day or meeting. They can be used in many different work situations, but not everyone is big on them. It takes someone with experience and confidence in the exercise to make the magic happen. If you are forming a new team or leading a work retreat, volunteer to lead the ice breaker. In a job interview, don’t forget to sell yourself on that skill.

J – Jump. Student affairs professionals have an amazing ability to jump from one task to another: While I was volunteering to co-coordinate my twin clubs annual garage sale fundraiser, I remember thinking: “If I can run a college commencement, I can do this.” Come that Saturday morning, before we were ready to open the doors to the public, after thousands of items from 94 different sellers where organized and ready to be sold, I took a deep breath and rocked it for the next 8 hours! I jumped from helping the cashiers to moving items, to making sure the bathrooms were stocked, to unloading the racks in our club’s storage. I loved it. Having the skills to move from one task to another is huge and I’m grateful to my years in student affairs for making me an excellent floater.

K – Keeper Of Documents. Who is better at keeping documents than a student government advisor? Just watch yourself every time the students vote to approve a financial expense! I bet you are back in your office filing away a document to document the vote, keeping a paper trail of every decision that has been made. It is all about history and transparency.

L – Learning. The ability to incorporate learning into your work with others is a skill worth sharing. Some of us love learning and it shows in our work. Some of us love supporting others learning and always find a way to ask the question, “What did do you learn from it?”

M – Multi-Department Management. Student affairs teaches us how to manage more than one program. Because campuses and budgets are small, many of us often find ourselves managing multiple programs and projects. Companies and agencies appreciate someone who is capable of managing more than one area.

N – Negotiation. Student affairs pros always negotiate with concert promoters, speaker managers, students & administration. This is valuable experience that any place of work benefits from. Think of a time you negotiated to positive results! It also helps at home! This past year, I had to negotiate with my husband on who was going to get up during the night feedings. (Remember, we had twins so this it was double night feedings).The result was a happy wife, and a happy life.

O – Opportunity. Student affairs is a field of opportunity. There are always new programs in development and new students arriving on campus. Which means that you too can find new opportunities when you need them! The key is to not sell yourself short. As I mentioned, many people might not understand what you did for a living but remember, you bring unique skills that can benefit many places of work.

P – Promoter. Who is the person handing out flyers to upcoming campus events during the monthly managers meetings or the weekly staff meetings? The student affairs professional, of course. I don’t know a single SA professional who is not a promoter.  When I enrolled in my local Chamber Leadership Class I had been home with my twins (and away from a college campus) for over a year. During my first leadership class we took the DISC personality assessment and predictably, I scored in the Promoter area. I kind of laughed to myself. “Hmm.. how many past concert or speaker series posters have I held on to? When was I not handing out flyers on a daily basis before I went home with the twins?”

Q – Qualification. Never doubt that you are not qualified. The challenge with finding a new job or transferring to a new area is that sometimes, it takes more than skills to land a new job. You also have to find the right fit. It takes rewriting a cover letter. It takes practice on selling yourself. It might even take starting over. And that is okay. We are all qualified for the next job we will do. Trust yourself.

R – Retreat Planning. When I think of my ‘top five musts’ at any job I do, I always put retreat planning on my list. I love the planning of, and the experience of going on, a retreat. Retreat planning brings out our teaching, facilitating, organizing and creative skills. When my students return after moving on, they always tell me that our AS Retreats is one of their favorite memories.

S – Shopping. As a student affairs professional, you know your way around Smart & Final, Office Depot, Costco, Custom Ink and countless other stores. Think about all the shopping you do when you plan events! Depending on where you work next, that experience will come in handy to get the best deals for the next company event!

T – Team Building. Team building skills are needed everywhere, and most places of work rely on team projects to make things happen. Use your knowledge in personality assessments, team dynamics, and trust-building to make your current or next place of work shine.

U – Unity and Social Justice. When a campus is in crisis, people look to the student affairs professional to provide insight, support and advice. Beyond our experience and training in diversity, social justice, and advocacy, we have the innate ability to bring people together.

V – Visionary. Every year, you must lead a group of students to think big and envision what the upcoming school year will look like. Each year, in your program review, you have to envision what students will learn, what your department will achieve and how you are going to make it all happen. That vision will be useful anywhere!

W – Willingness To Try New Things. We constantly encourage our students to try something new.  As one student affairs pro to another, I encourage you to try something new! There is usually a reason we give this advice. Maybe our students are stuck planning the same kind of events. Maybe one of our students is lost. We have this ability to encourage others and to try new things in our lives too. This past year, I tried writing more and got published. I tried leading a group of women who where not students but fellow twin moms and made a whole new group of friends. If your boss or you see a new opportunity come up, go for it. I know you can naturally do it.

X – Roman Numerals. Don’t you just love it when your student government insists on numbering their agendas with roman numerals? How is it that, even after 20 years of high school, I still use roman numerals?

Y – Young At Heart. There is an old saying that working with college students keeps you young at heart. It’s true! It also flows right into our last letter: Z.

Z – Zip Line. If you have been on a retreat with a ropes course, you have probably gone on the zip line. And this zip line brought you back to life. I’ll always remember my first retreat after I had given birth to my son Sam: it was 8 months later, and I was back at work on my AS Fall Leadership Retreat. As I stood there, watching my students go on the zip line, something happened: I usually pass on the zip line! But this time, something came over me. “If I can give birth, I can do this.” So I climbed up, wearing my favorite AS t-shirt, listening to my students cheering in the background. And as I pushed off I felt a huge wave of energy. The kind of exhilaration that reminds you that are always young at heart. Always. At the end, we took an amazing group photo and I never felt more alive.

Okay: I’ve given you 26 reasons, words, skills why YOU can work wherever life takes you and wherever you want to go. Any place would love to gain the skill set of a student affairs professional, be it in leading the ice breaker or in leading the team through the Zip Line.

giving thtanks for today photo

Checking In at the start of 2015

Reading:  The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon and Wherever You Go There You Are Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday life by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Watching: My twins dance. This great stage of a year and half is amazing to watch. They explore. They sit and enjoy. They laugh. They run. To them, life is good.

Listening to: Pandora radio stations David Gray, Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie.

Looking forward to: The next time I send off a piece to twiniversity.com.

Sam Update: Santa brought Sam the Skylanders game and a three wheel scooter. Two things he can’t live without and are giving him lots to talk about!

Twin Update: This week was their first gymnastics class and they loved it! The girls wanted to try everything. Run. Jump. Climb. I’m so grateful my neighbor can come with me or I wouldn’t be able to do it with them.

Meaning of home: Ask yourself, When you are home how do you relax? I have to be honest, some days I don’t know how to relax in my own home while being a stay at home mom. My home has become my place of work and the line between working and relaxing blurs naturally. It takes my husband reminding me that he needs to relax when he comes home for work for me to relax.

So I carve in time at my favorite corner chair in the morning drinking hot water with lemon. On my yoga mat before I make breakfast for the kids. At my computer mid day when I get a chance to write. And at my night stand with my mindfulness meditation book. That’s pretty good for a mom of three under 5. Wishing you a favorite place in your home to relax and enjoy this amazing thing called living.


How to make One More Thing something you want to do

In Student Affairs, as in many part of our lives, there is a moment when we manage to juggle all the balls in the air as one more thing is added. To survive the circus of it all, we use our mad multi-tasking and planning skills. Yet, for some reason, even though we say it will be different every semester, we still find ourselves suffering from winter break burnout.

For me, I know when I can start to feel the winter break burnout. Dec. 1. Before I know it, the task of decorating, shopping, holiday card making is back and yet, I still need to achieve my regular weekly projects. I started thinking about this annual dilemma and the one thing that kept coming back to me is, how can I make this One More Thing, something I want to do. I started thinking. What makes me WANT to do something? What makes me NOT WANT to do something?

Thing I thought some more, and with every month, every week, even sometimes every day, there will always be one more thing to do. It’s life. It’s Student Affairs. It’s the end of the semester and it’s the Holidays. I’ve discovered, that the key is knowing when to say yes and when to say next time.

Say Yes

-To the holiday party.
-To the warm seat by the fire.
-To the student who is nervous about going home for winter break.
-To hanging Christmas lights.
-To putting up a tree any size tree, big or small.
-To making holiday cookies with your kids, even it it keeps them up late.
-To help. If someone is offering it, take it!
-To getting a picture with Santa, even it means you might be waiting in line or maybe not. One year, I for some reason showed up at the best time.
-To finishing up strong.
-To cleaning out clothes, toys, books, office things you don’t need and donating them.
-To getting rest.
-To getting exercise, even taking a 15 min walk in the cold.

Say Next Time
-To that one extra holiday party you really can’t do.
-To that event idea that someone is thinking about it but you know it will be rushed.
-To that one more item on the agenda, save it for after Winter Break. It can wait.
-To Holiday cards that must come before Christmas. Some years in my family, we do New Year’s cards.
-To making sure you get away for winter break. This year, go simple. Stay home. You know you want to just enjoy being home.
-To staying home and if you know you want to, and you know yourself best, book that Winter Vacation and go!

If you find yourself with that feeling not one more thing, take a deep breathe, write down what you are currently doing and decide, what is the one thing I must say yes to, that I want to say yes to. Then, what is that one thing I can say next time. See if it works. I can already feel my mood changing. Logging on to Shutterfly now!


Stay At Home Mom’s Bucket List

“Now you are more likely to have less time home before returning to work than you did before.” – A close friend

After discussing the right amount of expresso for my cappuccino with the barista, finding the most comfortable seat at my local Starbucks (I moved three times) I begin to write. I made my little to-do list of what I want to achieve before I head back to the house: 1. Write this blog post. 2. Write the first draft of my cover/resume.

writer photo

Checking In- NaNoWriMo

November is often known as NaNoWriMo-National Novel Writing Month. This is my first time participating so, I’ve taken a little twist on the theme and will aim to write or photograph writing themes every day this month. I noticed that in October, I didn’t publish a piece on my blog. Behind the scenes, I had joined Instagram and participated in the NASPA Region 6 Photo A Day Career in Student Affairs Month campaign. Keeping up with a photo a day takes a lot of work. I was super happy to find Cafevic was still available on Instagram.  I noticed too that instead of publishing, I was rewriting pieces for twiniversity.com and my blog. As I writer, I’m discovering it takes a lot of extra energy and time to edit and really make a piece work for your audience.  I understand now how important it is to take the time but it is also important to keep them returning to your work. To refocus my writing and keep my blog active, I share my November’s Check In. Thank you for taking the time to check in with me.

Reading:  U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines and loving it. So far, she shares amazing behind the scenes info on how she was elected to Congress. I’m hooked. I Finished Driving Lessons, a novel by Zoe Fishman, while on quick get a way without the kids. It was a fun read. She did a nice job writing a story showing how we each handle changes in our lives, especially when it comes to motherhood.  I liked the how she connected it to driving.

Watching: Mysteries of Laura on NBCDebra Messing (Grace from Will and Grace) plays a twin mom who is a police detective in NVC with a super real attitude on life AND is funny and honest. Love it! It’s my new “me time” show.

Listening to: Country Music. I watched CMA Awards last night, and I’ll telling you, there are some really good country artists on the radio right now. I was impressed with all the performances and would totally buy a CD recording of all of it.

Looking forward to: Daily writing and photographing. With it being National Novel Writing Month, I started a #30daysofwriting photo campaign on Instagram to motivate me to really look at where my writing comes from, and what inspires me to be a writer.

Sam Update: Teaching Sam to Cook. A few nights ago I showed him how to make a cheese burger and he ate it! He has always been a picky eater. I’m hoping if he learns how to cook, he might be more likely to eat variety of more food.

Twin Update: Ready to talk. On any given day, my girls are ready to tell you what’s on their mind. It is so cute. It even happen at 2am a few nights ago. The best part is that they even talk differently and their voices do not sound the same. Two individuals who travel together.

Meaning of home: Play First. Clean Second. Some days your house will be clean and some days it will be messy. That’s life. Take it strive. I have to remind yourself, that if one night we let the dishes go it’s okay. Or if not every toy is picked up, it’s fine. What’s most important is did I play today? I started to set a timer on my phone for 6pm. When it goes off, I stop what I’m doing and play Hide and Seek with my kids. It gives me the extra fuel I need to make it to bath and bedtime. Plus, it leaves with a sweet memory for me when it is my turn to head to bed.

blog check in End P

Checking In-Twins at Sweet Sixteen Months

Reading:  Driving Lessons, a novel by Zoe Fishman

Watching: The twins go everywhere! I don’t think an hour goes by where you don’t hear my husband or myself say, “Where’s the other one?”

Listening to: Praise. Earlier today, I was at my local Starbucks getting some Me/writing time in. Near me was a teenage being tutored. I happen to hear her say to her tutor that she never thought she could be tutored or really enjoy it. Now she does.

Looking forward to: Every day. It kind of goes with my black board quote photo: “Endless Possibilities”. Each day offers us something new to learn. To experience. To love. If you get the chance, every day offers something to look forward to. If you think about it, children bring you endless possibilities because you never know where they will take you, where they will want to go, or what they will be become. At the same time, you too have endless possibilities. I never thought I would have twins or would marry a man from Germany and be able to travel there! We set the sails but it is the wind that takes us.

Sam Update: Joined his first club. Drum role..it’s the Lego Club! He even has the Lego Club schedule flyer handing on his wall above his bed. He also loves to tell me his plans. He likes to tell me what is suppose to happen tomorrow, the upcoming weekend, what we need to do, who will be there, etc. Like mother, like son.

Twin Update: Sweet Sixteen Months. This month the girls turned the Sweet Sixteen Months and it has been living up to its name. The girls are so sweet, funny, and caring. They love to eat. They love to hold their stuff animal while they explore the backyard. They love to dance, play with water, and play together. They also love to take things from each other. When they are both hungry or thirsty, they both love coming at me, pulling at me, trying to tell me what they want. Then once I give them something to eat or drink, they calm down, laugh and run off to play. It reminds me of the endless things I can and need to teach them while I’m still home with them.

Meaning of home: Decorative Pillows. Do you have that one thing you do that adds something to your home? That brightens up a room or makes a chair or couch come alive? OR maybe it is a new piece of art or new flower out front? For me it is a new decorative pillow. It seems so small, yet it makes a huge difference to me and to our home. There is something about being able to go to a place in your home and relax. Or for your kids to climb and play. This week, I added a couple new pillows to our couch and before I knew it,  I was watching the kids have the time of their life throwing themselves on the pillows. For me, as I snuggled in for my evening T.V. watching, I lean my head back on the pillows and knew I was home :)


“Aggie in Argentina” Transfer Student Studies Abroad Part 1

The Transfer Student Interview Series continues with Lexie Munevar, past community college student leader and now university transfer student studying abroad.

“When in my life time would I ever be able to live abroad if not now?” How often does that thought cross your mind? For many of our college and university students, the thought of living abroad might come to them when they see a flyer on a campus bulletin board or a tweet reminding them that the deadline for the next study abroad trip is in a week. For my latest transfer student to interview, the idea came from the Transfer Event during her first quarter at university, where she saw the study aboard program.


Student Life Advisors Do This All The Time

If you are anything like the average person, with access to Social Media, you probably see articles flying through your Facebook updates and Twitter feed constantly. Did you see the piece called “The Three Qualities of People I Most Enjoy Working With” written by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner? Did your awesome Student Affairs lightbulb go off? Mine did. The first thought that came to me was: of all people working on a college campus, this describes Student Life Advisor  AND it describes people we all enjoy working with!

Weiner goes on to describe how he came to the conclusion that working with individuals who can dream big , who support the values of the place they work at, who know how to get s**t done, and who are able to have fun are ideal people to have on a team.

Let me show you why it’s you.

Dream Big: How often do you find yourself Dreaming Big with your students? Remember the snow day you organized on campus during the middle of summer? Or the largest concert yet? Or being there to speak on behalf of the students when they were designing the new student center? Exactly! You do it everyday and probably don’t even realize it.

Get  Sh*t Done: Just today I bet you completed facilities paperwork, had a discipline hearing or disciplined a student, made a huge sign, ordered food to cater a meeting and/or an event AND spell checked the AS Agenda. It’s the role that WE naturally do it well ourselves because we have to teach students everyday to follow through, to show up and to finish what they started.

Know how to Have Fun: Who else is better at making it fun than a student life advisor? You’re not afraid to start dancing with your students, laughing about the latest trend, and sharing a piece of chocolate. You are not afraid to bring snacks to the Student Services staff meeting. You know it’s just a job yet you know it takes heart and energy to do everyday. If you are not having fun at your job, you need to reevaluate it – and if there is anyone who knows how to do that constantly, it’s the Student Life Advisor. In your life outside of campus, your friends and family probably see you as the person who is the “Coordinator”, “Organizer”, “Conflict Solver” and “Party Planner”. Own it! It’s in your blood. You know how to have fun, it’s your job.

So keep up the great work and keep encouraging your students to Dream Big (even if that means bringing a radical speaker to campus), reminding them to Get Their S**t done (even if that means you might have to give them an F), and most importantly, Make It Fun! How else are you going to make it that Sunday afternoon during an upcoming overnight retreat? :)


blog image collaboration

Leadership Novato 2015 Kicks off with a Lesson on Collaboration

Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success. The community needs YOU to exercise leadership. To be effective in community leadership we must strive to work in a collaborative manner. We need to see the future, engage and develop people, reinvent continuously, value results and relationships, and embody values that foster strong collaboration. -Novato Fire Protection District Chief Heine (LN 2010)

These past few days, I have had the honor of being part of the Leadership Novato 2015 class retreat and our first meeting day known as Novato History Day. As someone who has been in student leadership development and facilitated many student lead teams, being part of the team rather than the advisor is awesome.

I already feel like I will be a better advisor, teacher and leader down the road. I encourage anyone who develops teams to pencil in leadership development time for yourself. You will be surprised what new tips you can learn and relearn. For this particular leadership program, collaboration is a major theme that will be running through the monthly classes. They have already provided us with the leadership assessment DISC which specially focuses on how you work and communicate within a team.

I’m a huge communicator and when I commit to something, I always try to follow through, communicate where I am in the project, listen to where my teammates are, and aim so that all of us can be there. I’m passionate about bringing people together and helping them develop along the way.

The big lesson I learned from the retreat was collaboration takes time. It is key to the success of your team, but you have to be willing to work at. To get to know your teammates. To share how you prefer to work and respect how others like to work. Stay focused on the goal and together you will go far. Thanks to a great leadership program team and Leadership Novato Alumni, Leadership Novato 2015 class has officially kicked off!