As I wrap up the first six months of my first professional position and set goals and objectives for next semester, I keep thinking about how long ago July seems, but at times, it seems that all I can remember is a frenzied blur.
I’ll admit that at times, I struggled. Looking back, I remember myself saying “If I can just get through RA training…”, which then became “Well, if I can just get through August…”, which became “Well, if I can just make it to next month…”. And although I have already had experiences in this job that I know have taught me lessons I’ll remember for the length of my career, I can’t help but recall thinking I’d be settled by now. By 6 months, I thought I’d be comfortable with where I was and have a firm grasp on what I was doing. But maybe comfortable is a subjective term.
Every #SApro knows at least 3 words it seems: Chickering, Title IX, and, most important for this discussion, transition. We study what it means for our students, and we talk about it when it comes to accepting a new position. I knew taking a professional position was going to be a major transition and require a pretty large shift. But I don’t think I fully appreciated exactly how long that transition was going to last.
Tending to be a very literal person, I viewed transition as a phase that was entered, handled, and then you moved on. But the reality is that, just like my students, I am in a constant state of transition. As I grow professionally and learn new skills and apply new experiences to what I do, my perception of my position is going to continually shift. It’s the same way that our students finally start getting comfortable in a routine, and then it’s a new semester or some major life event occurs. The only time life is really going to stop changing is when life stops.
One of the challenges I’ve faced this semester is balancing my administrative responsibilities with my supervisory duties, and it’s made that “perception of my position” thing really hit home the past week or two. We’re currently in the middle of semester close-down and trying to get the residents checked out for winter break. Needless to say, it’s somewhat of a stressful time, especially as my staff are themselves in the midst of final exams, preparing for graduation in one instance, and generally anxious and ready for a few weeks off.
I have a spectacular student staff, but dealing with conduct conferences and seemingly endless room change requests has had me a little frazzled lately, and I’m afraid I haven’t been as supportive of them as I should have been in the past week or so. When I caught myself being snippy with one of my staff members over a mistake they had made, I stopped myself and realigned the situation. My administrative duties, while important, are not the focus of my job and my career. The focus is the support and well-being of my students, staff or otherwise. Remembering that, I changed the focus of conversation from why the mistake was made, to what could be learned from the mistake, both by the staff member and by myself. It was another of those small changes that has helped my view of my job shift.
At this point, I can’t say I’ll be as comfortable working hands-on with students as I was working with spreadsheets and assessment data. But I’m definitely starting to see the benefits of being uncomfortable.
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.
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Podcast With Stacy Oliver-Sikorski on Professional Development