As many of you job search, or begin new positions, I would like to discuss a tricky subject. Applying for or accepting a position that has just been created. Whether the position has been built on top of a previously existing position or newly created to fill a need, it will be uncharted territory: for both you and your department. As someone who has taken on one of these positions, I feel I have a bit of insight that will hopefully help all of you who are considering on of these roles. Like any position, a newly created position has pros and cons. So Here goes the list from my point of view:
You will get to put your mark on this position and therefore on this institution. You will probably be asked to report on the efficiency of the new position, on what’s working and what’s not, If there are too many responsibilities, or not enough. You will have the opportunity to mold this position into something that benefits the institution, the students and yourself.
You get to make decisions! A certain amount of autonomy comes with being the first person in a position. This will of course, vary by institution, but at the very least you will be able to decide what tasks are most important to this position. You may even get to help decide what responsibilities should or should not belong to the position.
There is no one to be compared to. You are not the “new” such and such. No one else has had this position before so there is no pressure to as good as or better than a predecessor. However…..
There is no one to gain insight from. There has never been anyone in your exact position. That in itself can be a lot of pressure. You are the first, the precedent, the one who future generations will either adore or view with disdain….ok, let’s pull this back, things just got a little dark there. Just remember that you were hired because you showed that you had skills that could benefit this position. Focus on those things and rock them!
Your coworkers may be unhappy. Specifically in a position that has been altered in a way that affects their jobs. You may unfortunately run into a situation in which this new or altered position has negatively affected others in the department and those individuals may struggle to differentiate their feelings about the position and their feelings about you. My advice here is to
1) assess what exactly about the position bothers them and then,
2) try to talk it out with those coworkers, they may not even realize they are making you uncomfortable.
3)If that doesn’t work, try speaking with your supervisor about ways that you can set things slightly back to normal. Maybe there is an aspect of their jobs they enjoyed that was taken away which can be given back in some form. Maybe they could share in that part of the position that they miss from their own responsibilities.
In the end, having your coworkers on board is very important to how happy you are in a position.
This position might have become a catch-all. Between the time your supervisor(s) was thinking up this position and the time you start, there may have been too many responsibilities, committees, meetings, etc that were assigned to the position. It is possible that they have been planning for this position for a long time, so they may be guilty of a bit of responsibility hoarding. If you become overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the position, be honest with your supervisor about how your feeling. They may not realize it and it’s better to have this conversation sooner rather than later.
The trick to being successful in one of these positions is knowing if they fit your personal preferences. For you, do the pros outweigh the cons? Knowing how the department and institution work with your fundamental beliefs and goals will make a big difference in how you feel about and handle the cons.
Good luck to you all!