The Working World, Version 2.0

Today concluded my first (almost) full week back in the working world. I did have Tuesday off, but it was by no means a break, since I had to drive at least an hour and a half to get to my day of classes. I’m currently tucked up in a blanket and have been watching How I Met Your Mother and Doctor Who for the past couple of hours, along with reading Mockingjay. Now, while I may seem rather boring and bland for a Friday night, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to veg out since I’ll be heading up to Seattle in the morning for a friend’s birthday. (And heading down to Los Angeles next weekend.)

In regards to the new job, though, things are progressing. I am in training, which means I have been reading lots of documents, running here and there on campus to complete tasks, working through modules, and shadowing fellow advisors. It means that I have been orienting myself to the culture of my new college, learning about the student population through observation and interaction, and looking at how theory is implemented into practice. For example, I was thrilled to discover that my department has an advising syllabus; it just so happens that my advising course at OSU is covering advising syllabi, so to see that in action–and at my place of employment–was nerdily exciting. For those unfamiliar with advising syllabi, the documents are essentially informational documents that allow advisors to communicate a department’s mission and the goals and outcomes students should obtain out of the advising process over time. Learning outcomes, as well as student responsibilities, make up a good portion of the document, communicating that students have responsibility in making decisions that affect their college career. (In other words, we advise, but students ultimately act and make their own choices.)

I have already seen a wide range of advisor-advisee interactions, with students coming in for varied reasons. There are students who have been out of school for years looking to pursue a particular degree. There are students trying to enroll in specific classes to satisfy requirements towards their Bachelor’s degrees (and one who even stated that it was because the course offering in a particular subject was stronger at my institution). There are students who are lost and need guidance, and others who come in to get the nod of approval on a self-designed education plan.

And that’s just the start of it. (And it’s only been a week.)

Of course, being in a new setting and learning how to do my job can be intimidating, but the atmosphere in my workplace is extraordinary. It is an area that has undergone many significant changes, and these changes have positively affected the effectiveness and efficiency of how things are run. It came from strong leadership and the understanding that change happens over time, not all at once, and the rolling out of certain elements, one piece at a time, helped the department move towards its goal of better serving students in advising.

The best part is–the department is still consciously working towards more improvements. There is not a hint of, “Good job! Now let’s call it good,” to be found. That is so important to me, a new professional, because I will not quit trying to improve my well-being and my own self, and to find myself somewhere where that is reflected externally is very reassuring.

There will be challenges ahead, and I acknowledge that I will make mistakes in my new role. But again, and like always, I am committed to continuing the learning process for myself and my students.

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