One of the people I consider my boss in this position, the 2011 Vice President Academic, posted his last blog about two weeks ago! I thought, darn, he got way ahead of me! Of course I am not leaving this position until I have a blog post dedicated to outlining what I have learned from my year in here. There are so many things I have learned, and I would like to share a short list of some of them:
- Flexibility requires discipline. As a student we also have flexibility in terms of when do we want to write that paper, meet up with group mates or read that 400-page novel for class discussion. With that, procrastinating just seems so tempting and let’s face it, even I admit I have done that in many occasions in my courses. This position is also just as flexible, but instead of marks, there is so much more on the line. In a work environment, we need to get over the mentality that mundane tasks can be done the next morning. Getting things done early and sooner brings more relief and the opportunity to reflect and think about what’s next.
- Don’t hesitate to share unique perspectives, new ideas and critical feedback. Looking into the video series that came out as a result of my suggestion, the hint to possibly revise our logo, and feedback I gave about my job description evaluation, those suggestions came out with really great, beneficial and tangible results. As a result, we have a better online presence, my successor will take a different direction with this position and my research have initiated some long term discussions and action that will benefit the organization in the short and long term.
- If at all possible – NEVER stay in the office on Friday night, or past 8 PM on any day. It was really depressing being in the SUB basement at those times – and it’s not because hundred-year-old ghosts may haunt the school – but because that is basically the time when you need to give your body and mind a break and call it a day. At that point, you are less productive anyway so might as well give yourself the rest you deserve after a hard day of work or school.
- Students have a GREAT ability and potential to make a difference. I saw this in numerous occasions, both in terms of my position, the students our department serves, as well as my co-workers. In any position, whether it is a volunteer position, an elected one, or a short work term, we as university students leave something of great value to the organization we spent time and effort with. This is something to be appreciated and never to be underestimated.
- There is great value in being an expert in multiple computer platforms. While I’m still not a big fan of Macs (sorry fanatics), I feel more competent and unafraid on whatever type of computer I would end up using in my workplace.
- If there is one thing I would have done more often, that is to hang out by the water cooler more often. I think my personality has an influence on how much, or little I have done this. Work terms are not just about doing your job well and building a good rapport with coworkers within the work environment. Building friendships is very important in any kind of involvement during your undergraduate year. It will be beneficial in the long run in terms of building your personal network, and it will also making work just fun in general.
- Take ambiguity as an opportunity. There are times when as an employee, you will be told to accomplish something, but with no specific directions how. In this position, there are even times where I have to come up with what to do as well! Embrace this since this is a great chance to explore in a situation where there is no right or wrong answer and you will end up surprising yourself and your employer with what you can come up with.
I would like to thank my supervisor who has been really very supportive and a pleasure to work with, the student representatives that I assisted in my work who inspired me immensely, and the great team in the Students’ Union, who I know will be still interacting with during my time as a student at the U of A.