Insights: The Transition from Student to Leader
Dr. Laurie Shanderson ’04 enjoys a challenge. After building a successful career in the healthcare field, she took the knowledge she gained and used it as the foundation to move into education. Shanderson served as an adjunct professor, then assistant dean and associate dean of the School of Health Sciences at Stockton University. Now the PhD in Health Services graduate is tackling her most exciting challenge yet as the founding dean of Northcentral University’s new School of Health Sciences. She shares her advice on making the transition from student to leader to innovator in your field.
- CONNECT WITH A GREAT MENTOR. Find a mentor who not only supports and guides your work but who also challenges you to go beyond the requirements of your degree and build your credentials and contacts within the profession. My mentor at Walden, Dr. Robert Hoye, helped me get my research published in a peer-reviewed journal during my first semester as a doctoral student. That helped build the credentials and the confidence I needed to move into higher education and administration.
- HANDS-ON KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR FIELD IS KEY. As an educator and administrator, I know just studying and reading about my discipline isn’t enough. You can’t teach what you don’t know. It’s important to have experience in the field as a foundation for your teaching. Look for opportunities to gain hands-on experience, whether that’s through your job, authoring or co-authoring research, presenting at conferences, volunteering in your field or with professional organizations, or being a mentor.
- RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. Build networks by participating in professional organizations in your field and attending meetings with groups pursuing the same research areas you’re interested in. It’s also helpful to participate in research with colleagues from other institutions, which, in turn, helps you connect with more people in your field. In addition, stay in touch with your fellow alumni and faculty members.
- KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO MASTER TO REACH THE NEXT LEVEL. When I take on a new position, I always make sure I know what skills I need to master to not only succeed in this position but also to be prepared to move to the next level. Build relationships with people in your field, both at your alma mater and in the profession, who can help you understand what’s needed to move forward in your field and who can provide opportunities for you to gain those skills.
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