In grad school, when I dreamed of the perfect workplace, it was of a group of best friends who went out for happy hour after work and hung out on the weekends. During work, we would be in each other’s offices sharing ideas and playing jokes. Potlucks, group lunches, and special celebrations would be common occurrences.
I’m now in my second position out of graduate school and I’ve been lucky to realize some aspects of my dreams. When I was months into my current position, however, I realized that I had yet to find my fit on campus. I felt like a stranger walking into my office building each day. After a semester, I began teaching and finally felt at home as I worked with an amazing group of students twice a week on the path towards student success. I hired a staff of 80 Orientation Team Leaders whose passion and endless energy knew no bounds. I’ve discovered that it’s the students that ground me and push me forward. Despite the joy that comes from working with students, my coworkers are just coworkers and my perfect dreams are just dreams.
My supervisor helped me to realize that I didn’t have to be best friends with every colleague in the office. We need to be civil and work well together, but it didn’t have to be more than that. Although it isn’t what I pictured in a workplace, it does work. In order to help realize my dreams and build my connection to the university I’ve: become active in a university-wide wellness program; attended campus cooking classes; attended professional development sessions put on by the Center for Teaching and Learning where I learn amazing things and network with faculty members; and attended First Friday Socials on campus where I meet graduate students and academic staff & faculty members. I’m lucky to have moved back to my hometown. I’ve been able to spend time with my parents and younger siblings. I’ve also gotten involved on the steering committee of the Keweenaw Young Professionals and enjoy networking, and planning social, volunteer, and development sessions.
Plans for the Future
Perhaps some day, my workplace dream will be fully recognized and I will have an office best friend. Until then, I will do everything I can to stay connected and motivated. When new employees start, I will make sure to welcome them and stop by their offices for a chat. I will continue to branch out and meet people across campus. I won’t be afraid to head to a luncheon alone and sit at a random table.
One day, when I’m a supervisor, I will do everything I can to facilitate connections between the people in my area, and make the office as comfortable and productive as possible. I’m also going to try not to be jealous when I read about amazing coworker relationships that others in the field have, because although best friends are great, it’s also okay for your coworkers to just be co workers.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Stacy Oliver-Sikorski on Professional Development