Benita Allen

Interview with Benita Allen

Date:April 10, 2012

Name:Benita Allen

Major, minor, and graduation year:Master of Science in Education; Guidance & Counseling, December 1998

Job Title:Dean of Students

Organization/ Place of work:Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Ashland Campus

You're a Dean of Students, what does that entail? What are your duties or responsibilities?

-I am responsible for overall leadership and administration of the campus student services department, ensuring that all students have access to the full range of student services. I help provide college wide leadership in areas of student services. My position works collaboratively with students, divisional and academic deans, faculty, and staff to promote student success. Responsibilities include planning, staffing, implementing, assessing programs, policies, procedures and services.

My position also reports to the Vice President of Student Affairs and the local campus administrator.Lastly, I supervise non-instructional faculty, the manager of enrollment services, and supporting staff.

What are the highlights of your job that you enjoy most?

-I enjoy working with students and assisting with the development of services that will assist students in their success.

What are the challenges that you face with your job that are not enjoyable?

-The Dean of Students position requires a person to balance a variety of activities all at once, which can be challenging on some days.

How do you spend your work days? Do you spend a lot of time office/lab/meetings/outside/___?

-I spend the majority of my time in the office at my home campus.However, they are times when I travel to one of the other 4 campuses for meetings, etc.

How did this type of job/field interest you and how did you get started?

I enjoy working in higher education and I was interested in making a difference in the lives of students by finding ways to promote and enhance their success.This position and my work as a counselor and mental health therapist have provided me with the skills to assume this next step in my career.

What qualifications did you need to obtain this job?

  1. Master's degree in education, management, counseling, student personnel administration, student development, or closely related field.
  2. Two (2) years (full-time equivalency) teaching, counseling, or supervisory experience.
  3. Two (2) years (4,000 hours) occupational experience outside the field of education
  4. Demonstrated leadership and creativity in the delivery of services to students, strategic and operational planning, supervision of professional staff, and budget management preferred
  5. Work experience in the field of student personnel administration or student development preferred.

What personal qualities or abilities do you believe contribute most to success in this job/field?

-I am an organized person which I think helps to balance and juggle the many aspects of this role.I am ethical when making decisions and will often ask myself, "Would I make this same exception for another staff member or student?"I also feel that I am approachable and can build relationships with ease.

What organizations were you involved in College that helped you towards your career?

-I was involved in the Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society.

What degree/s is appropriate for this line of work?

-The following Master's degrees would be appropriate for this position:education, management, counseling, student personnel administration, student development, or a closely related field.

Where and/or what do you hope to be in 2-5 years? 5-10 years? What are the keys to this career advancement?

-I have been in this position for almost 3 years so I have been focused on learning and doing all of the aspects of this position well.I would like to continue to advance my career in the area of leadership.In order to pursue this goal, I will need to complete my doctoral studies.

What was the best piece of advice you received and from who that helped you towards your career?

-I think the best advice I have received from a supervisor is to "be myself and to know my values and how they may affect my decision making."

Do you have any advice or "words from experience" for a college student interested in this job/field?

-Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and make the most of it.I have utilized every aspect of my degree from higher education to mental health therapy.I have learned so much after college and truly enjoy my current position as I have all the others.I would also suggest that when you feel you need more of a challenge, find one, and take it.

If you knew all this back in college, what would you say were the most important classes? Is there anything you would have paid more attention to? Any additional classes you would have taken?

-I was a bit of an overachiever and took every class that piqued my interest.I valued every class and feel they have prepared me for the future.

In college, people claim that a bachelor's degree isn't enough anymore and that you need a master's or doctorate degree to get your foot in the door.  What's your opinion?

-In my experience, and for the direction I took in my career, I would agree that a masters or doctorate degree is needed to get your foot in the door.