It’s been a month since students left campus, and it’s about a month until Hall Director training starts back up.Where exactly did summer go? I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything done that I was supposed to, but also feel like I’ve been going non-stop.
Looking at it on paper, I’ve actually made some major progress on my summer assignment: helping our department build the framework for some larger-scale initiatives. And I’ve really enjoyed the work I’m doing, helping influence to the way we approach RA programming. But, something feels off. And it wasn’t until a day or two ago that I realized what the problem was. I’m doing work that’s going to impact students, for sure. But I haven’t actually interacted with a single student in the past month!
I know not every #SAPro goes through this same dilemma, and many still interact with students daily during the summer. But, when you get used to only working for 30-45 minutes before an RA walks in to chat or a student stops by to ask a question, it can be hard to get used to sitting in a cubicle without interruptions for several hours at a time. My supervisor and I have talked about how this work-style is definitely a transition, and not necessarily for everyone. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to adapt and help make the next month not seem so monotonous. Take a look at my “Summer Strategy” below, and if you haven’t already, check out Emily’s summer list for some more inspiration.
Too quiet? Make some (white) noise.
Recently, I’ve gotten in the habit, thanks to a friend, of listening to podcasts when driving, as I find the conversational nature keeps me a little more alert. I tried this in the office, but caught myself getting caught up in the topic being discussed, rather than my work. Finally, I think I’ve found a solution – coffee shop noise! It sounds hokey, but it really does work better than just music. There are multiple websites that will play the ambient sounds of a coffee shop – cups clinking, light chatter, the steam of the espresso machine. It’s just enough sound to keep me from feeling like I’m working in a tomb, but not enough to distract me. Maybe for you it’d be nature sounds or crashing waves, but find a soundscape that lets you focus.
Find ways to get excited this summer.
Like I said, I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing. But, manual revisions and creating step-by-step guides can be a little, well, tedious. So, if you’re struggling to stay excited about the work you’re doing, find something more fun to work on to motivate yourself with. For me, it was the opportunity to design a proposed refresh of our RA resource room. I was able to channel my inner-HGTV and come up with some ideas to create a better working environment for our RAs. Just having something fun to pepper in with the heavier-substance work has helped me keep moving forward on all my projects.
Volunteer for extra opportunities.
Dreadfully bored with your tasks for the summer? Searching for something to help pass the time? Why not find things you can help out with in other parts of your department or somewhere else in the institution? Of course, you should check with your supervisor first and make sure you are still getting your own work done. But this is a great opportunity to see things just a little differently. Say you work as an Academic Advisor. Why not ask Admissions if you can tag along on a campus tour? ResLife professional? Maybe your Rec Center needs help with a summer program. Think of it as a mini-internship. Take this chance to create some cross-campus connections and see things from another perspective. Who knows, it might just spark a great idea on how to improve your own practice.
No matter what, I hope your summer is going well! For those of you working at the same pace as you do during the year, I hope you find a chance to catch at least a little break sometime in the next few weeks. For those of us at a slower pace, use this chance to recharge a bit, but also as an opportunity to grow yourself. No matter what, make the most of it; summer will be over before you know it.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.