Jasi O'Connor '95
Majors and Minors Sociology
Employer Concordia College
Graduate Schools MSUM, UND
Current Position Director, Residence Life
How long have you been in your current position? 6 years
Describe your career pathway...
When I graduated from Concordia, I began a master's degree program in sociology at the University of Montana. This wasn't a good fit for me. I had been in residence life as a student and a position as a residence hall director came available at Concordia, so I applied and was hired to work as a residence hall director in August 1996. While working as a hall director, I completed my master's degree in Counseling and Student Affairs. I was promoted to Associate Director and then Director of Residence Life and have now been working on my doctoral degree in educational leadership.
Description of overall job duties and responsibilities ...
I manage all aspects of student housing at Concordia, including housing assignments, student and professional staff recruitment, selection, training, and supervision. I also work with the professional staff in administering the student conduct system. Much of what we do is aimed at educating students in skills such as conflict management, time management, assertiveness, self-confidence, and leadership, so my duties including finding ways that our program can help students develop in those ways. We also want to help students tie together their experiences in and outside the classroom, so we work to provide opportunities for students to grow here as well.
What is your typical day like?
I usually have meetings scheduled most days, whether they are staff meetings, individual meetings with staff members, meetings with students regarding housing questions or issues, or planning meetings. I do a lot of work on the computer managing our student information systems and website. I usually take several phone calls a day, and there are time when emergency situations might arise that need my attention.
What personal qualities or specific skills are important to being successful in your position?
Organization, supervision skills, public speaking skills, critical thinking, being analytical, and being able to deal with emergency or crisis situations are helpful skills. Having a sense of humor certainly doesn't hurt!
How has your liberal arts education helped you in your career and pathway?
One of the greatest ways that the liberal arts have helped me in my career is through my ability to critically analyze situations to make decisions. The critical thinking skills that are developed through the liberal arts are critical to any profession, I think. Being able to learn new things and apply the knowledge in new situations has proven to be an extremely valuable skill.
What part of your job do you find most satisfying?
I enjoy the opportunity to work with a dedicated and talented group of students who choose to serve others through their roles in Residence Life. Their creativity and energy is sustaining. I also enjoy working on a college campus where learning is central to everyday life. Supervising staff and helping them develop as professionals is also a very rewarding part of my work. Finally, having the opportunity to work with dedicated faculty and staff to find ways to improve Concordia is an exciting opportunity.
What part of your job do you find most challenging?
When one deals with rules, it can sometimes become challenging to help students understand the value of policies and the reason behind them. Enforcing limits can sometimes be a draining task.
What advice would you give to students thinking of majoring in your major?
Sociology is a great field - and there are many things one can do with this major. What I enjoyed about sociology is that I was able to learn and think about social issues in an organized, methodical way. If one enjoys research, sociology can be a great field of study. It is a great way to combine one's heart and head - caring for society and social issues and finding practical ways to address or study those issues. Plus, our faculty here are top notch!
Is there any other advice you would like to share?
The liberal arts can open many doors. Students shouldn't view the liberal arts as "just classes I have to take before I get to my major." The liberal arts can open doors to other employment fields, but it can also open doors to hobbies or other avocations. don't shy away from the liberal arts - take the opportunity learn as much as you can about as much as you can!