Making the decision to pack up my entire life and move across the country from California to Florida was not so easy; I had lived in Southern California my entire life. My whole social network of friends, family, and colleagues were no longer at my fingertips. I would like to say that I knew my environment quite well and became known as the “Resource Queen” within my colleagues. Whether it was providing a parent a referral to access medical and mental health services or a fellow professional school counselor with an organization within their community, I seemed to usually have someone or somewhere to refer a person to.
When I reflect on how this came to be, one word comes to mind “networking.” My voracious curiosity has served me well over the years. While enrolled full-time in graduate school, I was also working at two jobs. Despite the lack of my availability, I made a conscience effort to attend any professional development or conference opportunities possible. Sometimes this made for quite long days with going to a workshop, then job #2, and then my graduate courses. Not every workshop/conference that I attended even had a direct relationship to my future role as a professional school counselor. But, I knew that my involvement was still serving a purpose, maybe it was just not known to me at that particular time. Introducing myself to the presenters and the workshop attendees became a norm for me. I was prepared with business cards in hand, so that I was creating the opportunity for future collaboration and partnerships.
Over the course of the next five years, I worked as a professional school counselor for a K-8 school district that previously had no counselors. So, I took the opportunity to begin utilizing the resources that I had been exposed to. Cultivating these community partnerships was one of my favorite aspects of the job. Working in a collaborative manner, servicing the needs of the organization and my own schools was quite rewarding. As time went on, this mentality only continued. I found myself partnering with organizations that provided the following:
•Medical & dental care
•Financial literacy & tax preparation assistance
•Parent education classes
•Low/no-cost counseling services
Newly arriving in Florida, I have found myself in a similar situation, with the necessity to interact and rebuild my professional and social networks. My “spare time” has been spent attending any applicable workshops or trainings in the area. Local and state professional organizations have and will continue to allow me strengthen my network in my new environment. So as you may guess, “pleased to meet you” has been a familiar phrase for me lately.
Sandi Logan is school counselor and currently a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at University of Florida. Prior to pursuing further studies, she worked as an elementary and middle school counselor in Southern California.