The Student Affairs New Professional

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tryin' to Get Paid-Post 19

Post 19 from Tryin' to Get Paid

Mood: Just bummin' out during a beautiful weekend
Music: Rihanna "Umbrella"

Another week of work is over...thank the calendar that said so. Projects are starting to get underway that need to be completed by the end of the summer, so play time is over and back to work (so to speak). I am the coordinator of Transfer Orientation at my institution, so I've been looking thru assessments and past years' programs, so I can craft a program that meets the needs of these incoming students. It's been pretty straight forward, but I kind of feel left out of the Freshman Orientation programming team, because Transfer Orientation has been seen as a kinda "secondary" program. A lot of resources and time go towards the freshman program, simply because there's more of them (around 500 entering this year, compared to 22 transfers). My program gets left out of discussion, but hopefully through my work more people will see the benefits of my efforts and see the importance of supporting these students.

About my eccentricities I talked about last post...I actually got my part-time job. Instead of working at UPS, I'll be washing cars for a rental car company. Sounds sooo exciting, doesn't it? Well, it's a little more flexible than UPS and pays a little more per hour. Plus, I love cleaning cars (my dad always said, "If you take care of the car, the car will take care of you"), so why not get paid to do that? When I told my colleagues, some of them looked at me like I was crazy, once again. Right about now, I could care less what they say. I'm gonna do what I like (unless it's...umm...what's that phrase...illegal and unethical), and unless they're name is gonna be on my car note, they can keep their comments and looks to themselves. Also, last night, while many my age were out at the bar scene or with their families, or who knows what, I spent my Friday evening at a WNBA game. I'll admit, I'm a basketball fan; I love the game very much, so I splurged for the $10 ticket and watched a good game. I will also say I was a little nervous, being I was the only adult male sitting alone in a section of teenage girls, knowing that some security guard or parent thought I was at the game for some illegal purpose. I made sure to not look in their general direction and focus on the game, which was pretty good.

Well, as I am supposed to wrap this blog up, I decided to keep going a little further, especially next week. Remember some of my posts about being "a bean in a bowl of rice"? Well, on Tuesday, I'll be at the Social Justice Training Institute. Several of my colleagues had urged me to attend, and I was accepted to go this year. I've been doing all the homework (yes, I said homework) and taking this conference seriously (not like I've done that to any other training, but you know what I mean). When I get free time, I'll post on how the Institute is going and how my brief vacation in Western Massachusetts is going.

Okay, I'm off to be myself...I might wash my car, or go exercise before I finish my homework. Ya'll take care...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 32

Quote of the Day:
"I think people talk too much anyway. Sometimes people are talking to me and in my mind I'm just like 'shut up, shut up, shut up, blah blah blah blah blaaaaah.'"
- Ellen DeGeneres

I came across this quote from Ellen today, as I was looking for a quote of the day for this blog that fits my current mood, and this one was just perfect! So i decdied I need more "Ellen" in my life and I check who's on her show in the next few days and there's a scene from Harry Potter on the show tomorrow (or actually today, since it's past midnight) and then Orlando Bloom on Monday...and now I'm really really excited. Haha. Of course, I'll have to tape it because I'll be at work, but it'll provide some perfect dinner-entertainment tomorrow. :)

Our Summer Orientation program is coming to an end. Only five more sessions. CRAZY! This summer definitely flew by.

You know, I was e-mailing my friends from Austria the other day and I mentioned how this summer just went by really quickly and that I can't believe it's basically over...and they were like, "What? Summer hasn't started yet." Which is so true...but being in ResLife, it's like, once Fall Training starts, it feels like summer's over. It's like we're living on a totally different schedule, like we're living in a totally different world.

So back to Orientation...
There's a lot of things I love about Orientation, working with the Orientation Leaders and Office staff, meeting the incoming students and seeing their excitement, watching how these students start making their first connections with other students...there's so much potential, so much future....
Some of my colleagues have said, "You either love Orientation or you hate it." I'm definitely one of those people who loves Orientation.
This year, I've been responsible for a lot of the administrative tasks, the behind-the-scenes work of Orientation. That's not usually my favorite thing to do...I'm much more the go-out-and-do-it kinda person. I live for that "student contact" we talk about so much. But then again, I'm also pretty organized, so doing some administrative tasks isn't too bad for me and I'd say, I do a decent job.
Anyway, it's definitely been an interesting learning experience. There's three areas of Student Affairs that I'm passionate about: Residence Life, Student Activities and Orientation (no offense to any of the other areas; it's just not me). And having seen some of the behind-the-scenes work of an Orientation program has definitely been educational; and if I ever decide to leave ResLife (or find a position that does ResLife and Orientation...which would be just "bloody brilliant"), I'll have a much better idea of what you do when you work with Orientation.
The thing I don't love about Orientation is that you have to work with so many different departments and something have to deal with a lot of incompetence on their part and there really isn't much you can do.
Here's an example: We've said from the very beginning that we'd be using these four buildings to host parents; using two for the even-numbered session and then the other two for the odd-numbered ones to give the Housing Staff a little more time to turn them around. Most of the time, we can fit everyone from one session into one building but once in a while, we have to go on to the second building. It just so happened that we've never had to use the second building for the odd-numbered sessions until today. So today, I get this phone call from Conference Services (they do the check-ins and check-outs for us at the buildings) and they're like, "We have a big problem" (all their phone calls start like this and usually it's something that's really NOT a big deal). The "big problem" was that they "didn't know" that we were using that second building (even though we'd said that from the very start; there's been e-mails; there's been reports for each session that have listed this building...just so far always as not being used). And apparently they didn't have any keys ready for that building. AND they didn't notice this until today when one of the families was coming in, even though I sent them a report listing all the rooms we were using four days ago (as I always do). And of course, this is all my fault!

Oh well...
Life in the ResLife World is interesting as ever. I have a 10-month position, so right now I'm not on contract with ResLife (which is why I'm working for Orientation). So you'd think that I don't have to work for ResLife. THINK AGAIN!
While I'm not allowed to volunteer for anything I'm actually interested in (or certain staff members may think that I work too much and can't handle advising RHA next year), I can definitely volunteer to help with any coordinator interviews and prepare training presentation, meet with central staff members about training presentations and and and. Those are training presentations, by the way, that should have been put together in the Spring, so that we wouldn't have to do that now. But thanks to certain other staff members not having their act together, we're nowhere near being done.
I just don't get it. This is a 10-month position!!! What would they do if I just wasn't available? Next year, I'm planning on going back to Austria for the summer...which means, I will NOT be checking my e-mails every five minutes, they won't be able to call me and there clearly won't be any time for these last-minute meetings.
You know, I'm a workaholic, so I'm always doing ResLife stuff. And I don't mind preparing some things for my building over the summer, doing some of that long-term planning that you don't get around to during the year, etc...but I just don't feel like sitting through endless meetings where nothing will get accomplished.It's like I'm being punished for being around this summer. Definitely not the way you want to start off a new semester....

On a personal note, I actually hung out with some people lately. I still sometimes feel like the fifth wheel when we go somewhere - I guess I just don't fit in really. I'm just interested in different things; like I listen to hip hop instead of country; I go to dance clubs not bars; I obsess over fictional characters from my favorite books not athletes. - but I've hung out with people lately and it's been alright. I guess I just have to force myself to be social around here; and I have to use some of that patience and acceptance that I try to use when working with my students when hanging out with colleagues. ;)

The whole getting-in-shape thing hasn't really worked out this summer. It's not that I don't have time. I just don't have the will power to do it. When I get home at night, I'm tired and all I want to do is read or watch TV. So instead of working out, I've been eating lots of ice cream. Hey, ice cream's good for you. It's got milk in it.

I'm still working toward accomplishing about those job-related goals, the getting stuff ready for the semester. I feel like I'm a little behind what I wanted to do, but not to bad. If I manage to get some work done this weekend, I should be all caught up.

Hmmm, have I talked (or actually "written") too much? Are you going, "Shut up, shut up, shut up, blah blah blah blah blaaaah" yet? Just kidding.

One of my all-time favorite student leaders, a former RHA president, now has a blog about her life at grad school (no, she's not in Student least not yet...haha...I kept teasing her that she'd come over to the "dark side" one day but she insists that she'll be a vet) and it's really fun finding out how things are going for her. I think, everyone should have a blog. ;) (But you may want to be careful who you tell about your blog...hmmm, and doing it anonymously may be a good idea because you never know who's gonna come across it and find out your deepest darkest secrets. And even if it's anonymously, people who know you may guess it's you. Have you guess who I am yet? If you did, don't tell me or I'll get freaked out about the fact that people are actually reading this and will now know what I think.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tryin' to Get Paid-Post 18

Post 18 from Tryin' to Get Paid

Mood: Hot...very flippin hot!
On the radio: National Public Radio

Alas, it it time for another blog. This week, I've spent my time doing miscellaneous office work, and a little light cleaning. I've had files on my desk since the age of time (or rather, since April) that needed to be put away, and I'm starting to see the bottom of my desk. I figure it's time to get a little reacquainted with that piece of furniture.

I've also spent this past week doing a little bit of reflecting, mostly on two developments. I'll break them down for ya...

1. Diversity. I'm on a diversity plan committee, looking at my institution's diversity statement and how it impacts daily business. Our team leader is a big huge fan of appreciative inquiry (a method looking at how plans and projects impact personnel matters, in addition to thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that people bring to work). Since we've started, I've bought into appreciative inquiry, and can't wait to see how the process works out. However, there are others on the team that are less confident than I. And, we've spent most of our time, as Peggy McIntosh stated, unpacking that invisible knapsack. I kinda got into a verbal spat with a colleague who was concerned that the plan would disadvantage White students, and would continue to divide groups of students as "haves" and "have nots". I understood her concerns, but I've learned that those statements come in waves of information, and there was a lot to dissect and reflect (I'll spare the meat of the conversation, but from my training, ther neded to be an encounter regarding White privilege). It goes to show that the need for conversations regarding diversity still need to happen, no matter where you are.

2. Free Time. I like to think I'm an eccentric kind of fellow; one that prefers doing the unorthodox things in life just because they're unorthodox. I told colleagues I was thinking of getting a part-time job at UPS to make extra cash and just because it would be fun, and they thought I was crazy (one wonder out loud why ANYBODY would want two jobs). I spend my free time at the airport watching planes taking off and landing, because it's pretty cool. My colleagues read romance novels and spy thrillers and I have to hear about it at lunch every day, I read Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and learn about Paul Robeson's involvement in the labor movements from the 1930's to the 1960's, and nobody cares. Some people garden and do lawnwork, I go to dog parks to see if there are any Rottweillers around (I'm a sucker for Rotties). A co-worker raved about her new bike because it's "eco-friendly", and I talk about buying a old Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme because it's big, lots of metal, and rides like a dream (and only gets 13 miles per gallon). One lady went to the Bahamas for her vacation; I went to Moline, Illinois for a weekend (it's all my wallet would take me, but I learned that Bix Lives...whatever that means). Suffice to say, there are some disconnects between what everyone does on their free time, and I get some crap for it. I thought student affairs professionals were open-minded? Apparently not everyone. I even mentioned joining the National Guard for fun, just to get a rise out of folks, and people weren't pleased with my idea (never mind I've been actually thinking about joining the Air Force Reserve as a navigator).

I guess I'm just fussing about my workplace and the personalities that are there. I've found during the year that things weren't easy for the only person of color in the unit, and they're not any easier for the eccentric people. A good colleague of mine reads Homer and Shakespeare for relaxation, and people rib him unrelentlessly for expanding his mind. Remember the whole UPS thing above? The only person who thought it was great was the colleague reading The Illiad. I guess us creative people stick together.

I'm ranting like a creative 4 year old about their latest daydream. I'll catch ya'll later, after I watch some planes land.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 31

Quote of the Day:
"You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way offline
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on."

- Bad Day, Daniel Powter

I was talking to one of my friends, who is thinking about leaving his current position at the end of the next academic year (after having been there for only two years). He works in a really small office and just recently got promoted, so he's been a little worried about telling them because they'll probably be mad/sad that he's leaving so soon.

That got me thinking. I don't think anyone would really care if I left. They'd probably not be excited if I handed in my resignation today or some time during the academic year...but as long as it was at the end of an academic year and I gave enough notice, nobody would care. I mean, there may be a few people who'd miss me...not so many in ResLife though, probably more students or professionals in other departments that I've interacted with.
I guess, that's all part of working in a big ResLife office. We have a lot of turnover. You don't expect people to stay in these positions too long.
But it is a little sad to know that you can so easily be replaced. That you're really not more than just another name on the staff roster.

Sometimes I wish I could just hand in a fake resignation to see people's reactions. Because I think that'd really give me a clue what people think about me. Not the fake, politically correct answer!
I wish I could leave for a couple weeks; let them realize a lot of the things that I've been doing - unnoticed and unappreciated - and then come back and maybe get a little bit more recognition. No, recognition is the wrong word...I don't need recognition (not that I'd say no to it either, but you know what I mean)...just more of an acknowledgment that I'm really trying to do a good job and some respect for my personal needs and wishes (hmmmm, maybe like a certain committee assignment). I mean, shouldn't committee assignments based on what's good for the office and also what's good for the individual staff members instead of who's friend with whom? Crazy concept, I know. ;)

You know, I don't think I'm irreplacable. I know there's a lot of other Student Affairs Professionals, who could do the job I'm doing...who are doing very similar jobs at other institutions. Hey, there may even be some out there who'd do a better job. But I'm trying and I just want to be respected for that.
I'm always the first one to volunteer when the department needs something. Interestingly enough, that's totally okay when they really need me (like to help out with coordinator interviews) but it's not so okay when it's something that I just really enjoy doing (like helping with another training session about Hall Councils) or when it's something that doesn't directly benefit the department (like getting involved regionally or nationally). You know, if you use and abuse me for everything you need, at least let me do the things I want to do. Is that too much to ask for???

Hey, on a good note though: I've been working on some stuff for my living learning community for next year and these things are slowly starting to take shape and I'm pretty excited about them. Some staff members (of course those outside of ResLife; or the ones that are leaving) have also given me some really positive feedback. This one staff member, who is really awesome, said, "I'm impressed." That meant so much to me! You know, it's really not that hard to make me happy. Haha.

Okay, maybe I should try and get some things done before lunch.
I hope you're all enjoying your summer! :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 30

Quote of the Day:
"Every man dies - Not every man really lives."
- William Ross Wallace

So I've basically spent all day today sitting on my couch reading Harry Potter and watching TV in between. But hey, it's been a long week and I was in desperate need of some peace, quiet and relaxation.

On Friday, I actually left campus...shocker, right? I went to a friend's house, spent the night, and on Saturday, we participated in this Community Service project. We helped paint a house. It was pretty fun. I got to climb on the tall ladder...actually, there wasn't enough people who felt comfortable doing it, so I was pretty busy. The ladders weren't all that stable, so climbing up and down didn't feel all that safe; but once you were up there, you had a beautiful view. It was like when I was little and climbed on trees. ;) I love climbing.

Maybe I should do stuff like that more often. I mean, I've been trying to find some new hobbies. But then, Community Service sometimes feels a little too much what I do at work anyway...and I'll probably be organizing some Community Service events for my living learning community next year. And I've kind of been looking for something much different.

My favorite hobby at the moment is reading. I know, that's kind of a solitary activity and doesn't really help you make new friends...but then again, reading has always been my favorite thing to do. And right now, with all the Harry Potter hype going on....

I've also seriously started preparing some stuff for next year for my building and that's been keeping me busy in my free time.
Below is just a short list of work-related things I want to get done this summer:
1) Prepare a Residential Curriculum for my living learning community
2) Come up with a Leadership Portfolio program that my residents could participate in
3) Developing a Pre- and Post-Test for residents participating in my living learning community
4) Help prepare the training for Hall Council Advisors
5) Develop a section for our staff manual that talks about Hall Council Advising

And there's probably a couple other things I'm forgetting right now. I'm definitely not going to be bored in the next few weeks. No wonder I'm too tired at night and on weekends to do anything else.

You know, the one thing I've always wanted to do, is write a novel. I love writing. I tried to write my first novel when I was still in elementary school. The story was pretty horrible...haha...but it was a start. And at my undergrad, one of my favorite courses were the creative writing ones I took. One of my faculty members really encouraged me to keep writing. But I just haven't really had the time lately. And I'm having a hard time coming up with a storyline. It's like I'm using my brain too much during the day at work and when I get home, my brain's tired and doesn't want to work. So it'll take a while till my award-winning novel will come out. ;)

Alright, it's time to get ready for bed. I'm definitely still not a fan of this getting-up-early thing. Why do our offices have to open at 7:30 AM in the summer? "Uh uh, not cool!" (Quote from Bring It On)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 29

Quote of the Day:
"As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone

Orientation sessions have started and I'm back to my workaholic-self. On Orientation days, I get to the office at 7:15 AM to make sure we're all set for the day. I usually work through lunch and then stay late...but I also get to take some breaks and just hang out with my office staff, so it really isn't all that bad. The morning's hectic because that's when we help with check-ins and when we get the most phone calls. The afternoon's are much more relaxed. My office staff has been bored out of their mind the past few days. After weeks of stuffing binders and doing bulletin boards, the only things we now do is get packets with nametags, invoices, etc. ready for students and family members the day before each session and answering the phone and our e-mail....definitely not enough to keep six office staff members occupied. And it speaks for my staff that they really don't enjoy being paid for not doing anything. So I've been trying to come up with some new things for them to do, but I haven't been all that successful.
When I get home, I am generally too exhausted to do anything. I pass out on the couch and then wake-up halfway through the night when it's too late to do anything but go to bed, especially since I have to be up early again the next day.

I've started re-reading the Harry Potter books...a little earlier than I planned to. But I figured, if I get done early, I'll just re-read the last one twice. Talking about Harry Potter: I was reading Sorcerer's Stone last night and came across that quote (see Quote of the Day) about choosing precisely the things that are worst for us. It just kind of hit me. Do I do that? Do I choose what's worst for me?
I definitely choose things that are tons of work. I choose a learning community that will keep me extremely busy. If I could choose my committee assignment, I'd choose those that are the most amount of work...not because of the amount of work they are, but because they are what I'm interested in. Similarly, I didn't pick my learning community because I knew it'd keep me busy but because it was what I am personally interested in. But no matter why I choose them, there's definitely a lot of work involved in all of them. So is me choosing things that keep me busy the worst thing for me?
Not necessarily. I enjoy my work, especially those aspects that add to the regular workload. They make me happy and what's more important? Then, again, I don't have much of a personal life because of that. But would I, if I wasn't at work all the time? Would things really be different or would I just spend more time sitting in my apartment re-reading books?
I want to have a family one day; I definitely want to have children one day. Some of my friends have expressed concern about me being a workaholic and wanting to raise children. But I really believe things will be different once I have a family. If I had a children, I'd have a reason to leave work on time; I'd have something else to do, something else I care about. Right now, work's my main concern and that's why I put all my energy into it. But that doesn't mean I can't change once my priorities change, right?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tryin' to Get Paid-Post 17

Post 17 from Tryin' to Get Paid

Music: Wynton Marsalis "From The Plantation to The Penitentiary"
Mood: Hoping it doesn't thunderstorm...oops, there goes the thunder

Well, another week of summer work has ended, and my weekend is just starting. I love the summer hours, where offices close around 12:30 in the afternoon on Friday. However, offices open at 7:45 in the morning every day, so I've got to get up extra early in the morning. See, the college kids have it so easy...they can sleep in, miss class, party all night (and all morning, depending on the student), and feel carefree from responsibility. Just wait until they get jobs...muahahaha!!!!

On a different note, this past week has been celebrations for staff members leaving. Aside from the sadness that some of the graduate students are leaving, I've eaten a lot. If you've read my posts, I live to eat, not eat to live. However, I'm really stuffing myself, almost to the point of making myself sick. But, it's still good to see colleagues moving on to bigger things (even if it's at a school literally a mile down the same street). Also, we had a going-away shindig for my supervisor. Before I got here, there was some major restructuring, and his position was phased out. He had the opportunity to advance within the institution, but was not considered for a position. It was really hard towards the end of the year knowing that there was a chance he wouldn't be back, but he's moving on to bigger opportunities (I would say more, but I don't want to jinx his chances). As the year progressed, we moved from colleagues to being good friends. There were a lot of difficult discussions and decisions he had to make, and I stood by him, knowing that he was a commsumate student affairs professional with the students in mind. He also was the catalyst for helping me change my thinking while advising students, and was a valuable asset during my first year as a professional. It's tough to see good friends go, but I remember a quote Morgan Freeman said in The Shawshank Redemption, "some birds aren't meant to be caged; their feathers are just too bright."

Since I'm getting a little sentimental, and I don't want to sob (again) at my desk, I'll stop here for today. Have a restful summer!