Offering support in a new age of advising

Liz Kalinowski Ohrt speaks on ways to avoid advisor burnout at NACADA annual conference.
November 14, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on daily life worldwide, from changes in work and school to travel, business and beyond. For academic advisors like Liz Kalinowski Ohrt, assistant director for academic advising in CBS, that impact brought on additional challenges in their daily work and interactions with students. 

“Advisors and supervisors were asked to address the multitude of needs that our students were dealing with during the pandemic and there were often no easy answers or solutions,” says  Kalinowski Ohrt. “Because often those in the advising field have a great deal of empathy and care for those they serve, it was extremely difficult to navigate balancing what was being asked of them at work and their lives outside of the space. This lead to burnout, and a huge number of advisors and supervisors leaving the field.  ”

As one way to support her colleagues and counteract the burnout she sees happening in the field, Kalinowski Ohrt led a discussion titled “The Magic of Management: Top Tactics to Avoid Burnout as a Manager” at the National Academic Advising Association’s annual conference in Orlando, FL in early October 2023. Her presentation covered emotional intelligence, establishing boundaries, task delegating and the importance of building a support network.

“Over the past two years I've had the opportunity to take advantage of some awesome professional development experiences and reflected on what I wish I had known when I started off as a supervisor 10 years ago,” she says. “These topics of emotional intelligence, establishing boundaries, delegating tasks and building a support network are what I felt would have helped me the most as a new leader in the field.”

In addition to offering a voice of support to colleagues in the field, she hoped her presentation could offer some perspective and tactics to fellow advisors. 

“Stress happens in work, but we don't want it to be so common that it leads to that next level,” Kalinowski Ohrt says. “Burnout leads to great folks leaving the field, and we want to retain our superstars so that we can serve our students in the best way possible.”

—Lance Janssen