Supervisor – The Biggest Resource on Site

By Haomu Chen, Street Team Member

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At this point of the semester, you probably have already learned about Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), and if not, here is a quick overview. You might also have completed your first week of service and met your supervisor. Yes, your supervisor!

Arguably, your supervisor is one of the biggest resource at the service site of your community partner. They are well-trained professionals in the field and are definitely knowledgeable enough to answer all your questions. To better utilize this amazing resource, the Service-Learning team is recommending you to stay in touch with your supervisors before, throughout and after your service.


A good start is half way to success. Indeed, many students believe that the most meaningful conversations with their supervisors took place before their service or at the orientation. It is a great time to exchange ideas, plans, or maybe just pure excitement. Here is a list of things you can cover with your supervisors before service:

  • Ask about the expectations of your role. Expectations might include detailed responsibilities of the role, frequency of check-ins, dress code, daily procedural work, project timelines, etc.
  • Be open to feedback and conversations on how you can improve.
  • Know the best way to contact your supervisor in different situations; Call or email when you are late; Call or email when there is a situation that you are uncertain the best way to handle; and emergency contact.


 It is possible that your supervisor will not be by your side all the time throughout the semester. However, you definitely could spend some time getting to know your supervisor. Don’t know what to ask? Here are some things they might be able to share with you:

  • Ask your supervisor about how they got onto their career path if you are interested in similar fields.
  • Ask your supervisor if they could introduce you to someone in the field or help you make connections with other professionals.


Great job! You have completed a semester of service and accomplished a lot both in and out the classroom. There might have been a few challenges along the way, but your supervisor likely helped you grow and develop and everything turned out to be nice and sound. Now, as we wrap up the semester, let’s revisit some of our goals for our relationship with our supervisor:

  • End on a professional note; schedule a final meeting with your supervisor and exchange any feedback or ideas.
  • Say Thank you and Goodbye properly in person, via the email, or with a handwritten thank you note.
  • Stay in contact after service is completed; ask if they would be willing to give you a positive reference in the future; connect on LinkedIn;
  • Invite them to the Service-Learning EXPO!

Of course, supervisors are all different (as are students) and there is no golden formula for all situations. But it almost always remains true that good communication is the key to mutual trust and success. Last but not the least, remember your supervisor, together with your service-learning teaching assistant, professor, and the Center of Community Service is here to help you learn and grow. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you are in doubt!


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