I am an Academic Advisor in the Department of Chemistry. I have a PhD in Chemistry from Texas A&M.
Advising is a journey for both: advisor and advisee. As an advisor I can share my experiences, share my knowledge of the system, share most likely outcomes based on multiple experiences with former students. But as I work with students they bring different backgrounds and expectation: each interaction is unique. Each student comes with her/his own needs, goals, discipline.
The hardest part is to be an active listener. As a trained problem solver I put myself in the student’s shoes and set paths to follow. That is not a strength, because the successful advising session occurs when a sense of accomplishment is born in the student. In the advising session I have to set aside my problem-solving skills and bring out my facilitator robe. It is my responsibility to dig into the potential of the student and facilitate connecting the dots. Piaget teaches us that learning occurs when we are shaken from our bubble of accommodation and we are forced to find new connections. Advising involves shaking the bubble of complacency and offering new options for a career path. Careers are born at an early stage in our college experience. A semester of undergraduate research may change for life a path: from a medical doctor to a graduate student in Chemistry.
Advising cannot be done in a vacuum. In the College of Science advising is a team effort. I have learned from experienced advisors because they take the time to mentor. There is a sense of unity in the team that makes advising a more pleasurable experience. I learn from the feedback that my students give to me, making it a continuous improving process.
In a sense, I did not seek advising as a career, but when advising found me, it was the perfect match in my life.