Silos? What silos? No silos here.

Knowledge Communities. We focus on the success of specific populations or interest groups. But, you know, there is some overlap and you can be a member of more than one.

Regions. There is some map somewhere that’s color coded and places me (and you) within a region. It allows the conference to be more personable and regions even hold their own conferences.

SSAOs. Senior Student Affairs Officers. There was a special track for SSAOs at the conference. These are people who have been in the profession for years, so they (probably?) have different professional development needs than others. (Would some of these professional have benefitted from new research, current projects, and grad school concerns? Probably)

Mid-level professionals. People who have been in the profession for more than five years but are not at the senior level. There were several sessions and events geared toward mid-level professionals.

New professionals. This speaks for itself really; anyone in the profession for less than five years.

First-time attendees. There were special events for first-time attendees, a ribbon, and a special area for socializing among other things. We were even told that since we have a ribbon, certain people may come up to us and engage us in conversation. (I only had ONE person approach me about this. She was awesome, and amazing, but I wasn’t waiting for her presentation, I was actually trying, unsuccessfully, to stalk @JChase__)

Grad students. This was an interesting population to me. They’re going to school, mainly in the traditional track from undergrad to grad. Many attended TPE and others were early in their program. There were some sessions geared toward this population and it seemed as if many of the people in the sessions I attended were grad students. Do they know the odds of them getting a well-paying position is low? So many questions, too few answers.

What about the unlabeled populations? Take me, for example. I’ve been done with grad school for three years (yikes!), so I’m not a grad students. I’ve been working in higher ed, but not student affairs for two years, so not a mid-level or entry-level professional. I also attended the conference alone, with the exception of my roommate and a bunch of Twitter friends who knew I was attending.

Maybe we should get away from the tracks and from the labels. Perhaps it’s similar to changing the question from “what do you do?” to “what are you interested in?”. We want to know about people, and so we need to reframe how we think about them.


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