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Transitioning from a Student Worker to a Full-Time Professional

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By David Butler
Coordinator, Learning Lounge

“Hey David, I know you just graduated from high school. That’s really great, but I want to let you know something. In two years, you’re actually going to leave your family and travel 1,400 miles away from home to attend a university. You’re going to need to get a job, so you will work on campus at the university. Oh, and then you’re going to be offered a full-time position and actually formally move to Arizona.

“You’ll have a new job, life, faith and family. You’ll experience doubt, love, struggles, loneliness, victories, happiness, peace and much more. And, it will be worth it. So, just wanted to give you a head’s up. Okay, bye.”

If 18-year-old me read that, I would have probably thought: “Hmm. Must be another David.”

But that is actually all true. The past three years have been a journey. There are certainly more stories than what will be shared today; I cannot write everything because I do not want the word count to get too high – otherwise you may stop reading!

I was born and raised in Oregon. I began my collegiate journey at a local community college and transferred to Grand Canyon University in fall 2013 to finish my bachelor’s degree in business management. After finishing my first semester at the university, I reached a crossroads. An opportunity to change how I was living. A fork-in-the-road, per se.

I needed a job (da da daaaa).

I had too much time on my hands and, frankly, I needed money. But, oh, did the Lord have a bigger plan than what I thought.

So, off I went in search of a job. There are many student worker roles available to students at GCU, and I began to apply to positions I felt would be a good fit.

I soon found myself talking with the director and program manager for the Learning Lounge, a new initiative that started right around the time of my arrival to GCU. Shortly after, I began working as a student worker for the Learning Lounge. I was a student worker until May 2015, and I had the opportunity to provide learning assistance in math, assist individuals in submitting scholarship essays and build trusting relationships with students.

Towards the end of my senior year at GCU, it was crunch time to really determine how the next chapter of life would look. Would I stay in Arizona? Would I go back home?

During the final few months of my time as a student worker at the Lounge, I had assisted in managing the service hours for Canyon Christian Schools Consortium (CCSC) scholarship students assigned to help in the Learning Lounge. We had about 600 CCSC students assigned to complete their scholarship service hours at the Lounge that year. There was an open position for a coordinator to manage CCSC students assigned to the Lounge moving forward, and I applied for that position at the end of my senior year.

In May 2015, I made the formal move to Arizona to begin working full-time the Learning Lounge. During the 2015-16 academic year, I worked with 1,000 CCSC students assigned to assist in the Lounge, and it was an experience that allowed me to learn and grow. At the end of 2015-16 academic year, our department was given the entire CCSC service hours program, where we now oversee the service hours for about 2,800 students. Lionel Williams, our new CCSC program manager, has a great deal of experience and was recently brought onboard to assist in organizing this new initiative, and I look forward to supporting him in this role.

To say I have learned a lot over the last year and a half would be an understatement. Yes, you do learn a lot in the classroom, but actually applying what you learn to a work environment is another learning opportunity in itself. I would like to share all the lessons and values I have learned so far, but this blog is already long enough. Instead, I will keep it to three I think are crucial:

Change Planning

Planning can be a make-it or break-it concept, and change is a constant part of life. How do you plan to change? Developing a mind that adapts to and anticipates change is incredibly valuable. Proper planning can lead to the successful implementation of ideas, but it is important to incorporate flexibility in a schedule to account for change. Once a change is recognized, it is helpful to identify the goal and work backwards to determine how to resolve or adapt to the change.

Faith

Who do you rely on? Mom? Dad? Pet rock? Significant other? Yourself?

What if those are gone? What do you have then?

This last year has shown me the Lord’s provision in my life. I am by no means perfect, and I am still working at growing in my own faith in the Lord. Over these last few months, though, I have had the opportunity to trust the Lord with many circumstances I found myself in. There have been prayers of “Lord, I have no idea what to do, and I need You.”

It was in those truly weak moments I experienced the Lord’s goodness. The key for us is to constantly remind ourselves that He has a master plan with our best interests in mind. Nothing surprises Him. It does not matter the journey you have been on, or the good or not so good decisions you have made – the Lord is for you, should you choose to accept that today.

Support

Family and friends. Such simple words that have literally changed my life, and I would not be where I am today without either. First off, we have our faith in the Lord that He has the best plan for our lives. Do not forget, though, that God has also allowed us to be blessed by the family and friends around us. I would love to share all the stories of how my family and friends have supported and encouraged me over this last year. From late night conversations to encouraging messages, I would not be where I am without those individuals.

Now hopefully you have gained something from this blog and can relate with some of those lessons and values, but if you are sitting here thinking, “David, come on. I need something more,” then here is your homework or some things I would like you to think about tonight as you are getting ready for bed.

Do not make this a crazy difficult thing. Just think:

  • Do I need to plan more?
  • Is there an area in my life (work, significant other, friends) that could use some better planning? How so?
  • Where do I put my faith?
  • Do the words of 1 John 1:9 have an impact on me? Why or why not?
  • Have I thanked a family member or friend that has supported or blessed me recently?
  • Is there a family member or friend that is in need of some support or encouragement this week?

Until next time, loved ones,

DB

Learn more about Grand Canyon University by visiting our website or contacting us today using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.

More about David Butler:

David Butler joined Strategic Educational Alliances in February 2014 and served as a Grand Canyon University (GCU) Learning Advocate (LEAD). He worked with local high school students throughout the Canyon Corridor to create fun and engaging learning opportunities. In May 2015, David joined the student development and outreach leadership team to serve as a coordinator. He has worked closely with many of the university’s Canyon Christian School Consortium (CCSC) scholarship students to meet necessary service hour requirements at the GCU Learning Lounge. David began his collegiate journey at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) in Gresham, Oregon. During his two years at MHCC, he served in the Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR) office as a SOAR leader. During his time at the college, he also gained experience as a manager for a movie theater company. Upon the completion of his associate degree in business, he transferred to GCU in fall 2013. In April 2015, David completed his bachelor’s degree in business management with a 4.0 GPA. David currently lives in Phoenix, and enjoys playing soccer, going on hikes and spending time with loved ones.