By Kenz Walters
Since my first on-campus job five years ago, I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to work with a number of professionals across the board in the Housing and Residence Life field and the larger one of Student Affairs, but I never sat down with any of them to discuss it as a career option besides an offhanded question here and there about what they do on a given day. As my time with the university draws to a close and the idea of joining the workforce becomes more apparent, finding a good fit for the skills I’ve cultivated pushed me to consider Student Affairs as a possible choice. Thankfully, Bri Cooper, a Hall Director on campus with experience from across the field, was kind enough to let me sit with her and bombard her with questions.
Bri Cooper’s job as a hall director is incredibly varied from week to week and even day to day given the time of the year or tasks that might pop up sporadically throughout the day, like Homecoming or closing for Winter Break. Between meetings all over campus and working with her staff to keep her residence hall running smoothly, the job of being a hall director is hectic, “But very rewarding!” Bri said as she went through her schedule for the week with me.
For this position, it’s expected for candidates to have either a masters degree or to be working on one. UW-Eau Claire is one of many colleges that offers programs for graduate students to earn their master’s degree in student affairs while learning on the job. Bri mentors one such graduate assistant and meets with her regularly to discuss all kinds of topics, from how to handle certain hard situations as a hall director to homework and schedule management. Bri hasn’t always been a hall director, though. She graduated from UW-Whitewater with a bachelors degree in social work, before going on to earn her Master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in higher education. This is just one of the many paths you can take to Student Affairs. Bri has also held many job positions as well that translate well to being a Hall Director, most notably as the Graduate Conduct Officer and Case Manager for the Dean of Students office at UW-Whitewater before coming to UW-Eau Claire.
I had no idea that there was so much variety in this job before this experience, and I was pleasantly surprised by all that you can do not only as a hall director but in the field of student affairs in general, as Bri mentioned. There’s always room to switch positions and always opportunities to keep learning as well, whether that is going to state and countrywide conferences, developing new techniques and plans as an entire staff, or simply working with students. Student affairs, from what I learned, is a rewarding profession, but takes a lot of work, and has a lot of different aspects to it that I did not realize.