me + my job

It was a pretty successful week, all in all. I’m a little bit flummoxed by saying that, insofar as I’m so used to apologizing to myself and others that I am not getting enough done. Then again, I rarely have a bad week in this job due to directly task-related factors. Politics is another question, but every job has that. In some ways, because I’m out of the academic chain of command now, and in the administrative command, but spend very little time working with people in my administrative upstream but mostly as a consultant to the academic side, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

This week:

  • While cleaning files, found a student whom a not very funny comedy of errors had left hanging, and through a series of bureaucratic maneuvers, got her graduated and her diploma backdated. Score. Probably the thing I’ve felt best about this month.
  • Held yet another advising session entirely in Spanish. So it’s not all gone. I don’t like these, because what I’ve been having to say is more or less, “Your English is not well enough developed for university study.” Oddly, I still remember the subjunctive of the verb, fracasar.
  • Got someone’s financial aid reinstated.
  • Got someone into the office of victim advocacy. Not the first time this term, either. I’m being vague on purpose. This is a part of the job I am not trained for and which exhausts me. At least that student will now have a trained counselor.
  • Met a freshman who wants to be a medieval history professor and, I think, probably has the intellect to do it. Met another one who wants to be a state prosecutor. Met a third one who wants to teach high school history. Got the third one switched to the social studies education major and got them all enrolled correctly in the best courses for them.
  • Met about a dozen transfer students, all of whom are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. While probably should make me reflect: initial advising appointments are probably my favorite part of the job.
  • Went to a meeting about the campus’ average LSAT scores which, while tedious, garnered me some interesting information that I can employ usefully when I have the chance. Learned a lot about the law schools our graduates choose and why.
  • Had a long meeting with the new campus internships czar, and drafted a bunch of related documents.
  • Finally got the detailed course descriptions to hang off the search schedule correctly.
  • Wrote one of those documenting, defensive memos that set the world on fire. Metaphorically. Ah, the joys of the bureaucrat.
  • Reassured at least six faculty members and one staff member that coming administrative changes would not mean the end of the world.
  • And bull’s-eye: a student came back with a charm against misfortune, for me, from the shrine at Kamakura. Master strike of advising — she mentioned something tangentially in an appointment, I ran across something that I thought would be of use to her, and next thing I know she’s got herself on a trip to Japan. Now she has a middle term career goal and is thinking about graduate school. This is what is supposed to happen.

On the negatives list:

  • My planning for a number of fall events is behind (career sessions, common reading) because of all of the extra work on the schedule.
  • I have a meeting on Tuesday about the Spring 2016 schedule that I am not ready for.
  • I have no solution to the enrollment problems I’ve been charged with analyzing.
  • Someone is supposed to find time to observe me soon and I don’t know when this will happen.
  • I am behind on pre-Orientation notes for this week.
  • My office is a ridiculous mess, to the point that it is bothering even me.

Had a meeting with my lead and they are preparing promotion materials. I’ll admit that I feel a certain amount of disorientation with regard to the praise I get in this job all the time — although I am also overqualified for it, so if I weren’t doing well, I’d wonder about myself.

At the same time:

  • I still have not mastered how to have lunch successfully while working 9 to 5. How hard can this be?
  • I don’t move enough during the day. The climate also mitigates against this at the moment. I don’t want to go outside to walk around when it’s sunny, 92 degrees Fahrenheit, and 85 percent humidity.
  • These two problems are related to the fact that I have not mastered stopping in the middle of things. I am still working more than forty hours a week.
  • I’m increasingly troubled by the relationship between the university and the student lenders. Least said about that best, I suppose.
  • I am eating my feelings again, for the first time since 2010. I thought I had learned how to combat that particular problem, but apparently not.
  • And that relates to the really big problem, which is that this job leaves me awash in other people’s feelings to a degree that I am unprepared to confront.

My mother told me when I was 18 that she thought I would be a good psychologist and when I asked why, she said, “You’re a really good listener.” No career aptitude test that I have taken has ever suggested that (they have always said the same four or five things: musician, academic, clergyperson, marketer and occasionally physicist [but my math is inadequate to that]). I may be a good listener but I do not know what to do with my advisees’ feelings when they are gone. They echo through my brain after work.

Which I suppose brings me to the next evaluative post.

~ by Servetus on June 22, 2015.

15 Responses to “me + my job”

  1. Sounds like you had a pretty successful week over all to me! 🙂

    I imagine there’s probably some energetic clearing exercises you could learn to help expel other people’s residual energies / feelings from your system – sounds like you are absorbing them and they are understandably weighing you down. 😦

    On another topic, I remember that Opening Night of The Crucible last summer. The audience that night was really pretty incredible – a standout theatre experience.


    • Yeah, in this job I rarely have a “bad” week and if I do, it’s not due to things I’ve failed to do, anyway.


  2. Please focus on all which you’ve achieved – which is quite a lot – and take satisfaction in that fact. I don’t think my week has been quite so successful, unfortunately.

    I’m also inundated with the preparation of the Fall 2015 schedule, and I need to get a grip on the budgetted teaching hours of the research assistants, all the while our system (Prophix – I don’t know if you know it – it’s Canadian, I believe) is shut down for Fall 2015 – making it impossible for me to do my job properly 😦

    I can imagine the emotional overload of getting immersed in other people’s feelings. One wants to help, but if it begins to affect one’s own emotional state, it’s no good. Which measures do you have available? Would it help to discuss it with colleagues, perhaps?

    Well, your lead ought to be supportive either way. I mean, not only are you over-qualified as such, but even if you weren’t 100 per cent in your job, the superior ought to help and not the opposite. Be happy about the praise, I’d say. My superior and colleagues are happy about the work I do (primarily because I’m proactive – I often see and confront the issues before they become challenges). I don’t get enough praise, though, but that’s a cultural thing (Danish law of Jante).

    Do you have rules about lunch where you are? We have a 30 minute lunch break – We all go (the entire dept.) at around 12 noon; some earlier and some later, but we all do lunch. We’ve got a cantine, but most of us bring food from home.

    We’ve got the most lousy summer in terms of weather so far, so I do get some exercise. I started running in May, and I’ve noticed my stress level benefits from it. I sleep better as well. I’m still very fond of a glass of wine, but only during weekends. Do you have fitness facilities at your university? We have here, and during winter, it’s really popular. The only obstacle, really, is to get started. It was a colleague who dragged my along to her running club, and I’m grateful for that.

    Focus on the “done list” rather on the “to-do list”.


    • I’ve been asking around about what people do, but my impression is that most people don’t have the issues I have with other people’s feelings. My lead said, and it made sense, that I need not to ask questions that provoke emotional answers. That would solve the problem for me, I suppose, but it would raise other questions.

      I’m required to go to lunch but no one checks whether I do. I’m not the gym type but even if I were it’s a 20 min walk one way from my office, so not happening at lunch time, anyway. It’s more that I just need to go outside and walk around the building a few times.


  3. Sounds as if the upsides outweigh the downsides, I’m glad you’re happy in your job. 🙂


  4. I just realized that as my interest in RA wanes, I’m becoming a fan of you LOL (it’s the opposite of my attraction to RA really – I have no idea what you look like, but I’m actually interested in what you have to say). It’s so nice to read about your week 🙂 thank you for sharing.
    Apart from that, if my study counsellor (is that the word?) had done his job, I could have saved up to 3 semesters :/ it must be quite satisfying to be in a position to actually help people navigating through bureaucracy and find appropriate courses for them etc. I can only say from my side that it’s something I’d have appreciated so much.


    • I’m not anywhere near as sexy as he is, and my life is much more boring, so I’m flattered by your interest, lol 🙂

      yeah, I’m an academic advisor, which means I’m sort of the entry point for any problem a student in my major is having, or for helping students figure out what the best way to achieve their goals might be. Three semesters is unconscionable, really — my number one charge is to keep time to degree as quick as is practical and cost as low as possible.


  5. Sounds like a lot of happy customers S 🙂 Nobody ever manages to do everything and you are obviously doing the most and the right things and people tell you that. Sigh on the financial issues, i forget how difficult that is out there, the only ones dealing with my financial issues were my parents as we didn’t actually have to pay for studies, great advantage in hindsight. I can imagine how some of those very basic worries can burden you too when you listen and there is little you can do about it.
    I am sure there must be techniques to deal with the added stress of others emotions. Sorry it seems to be a gap in the set up of the admin department. I have a friend who works in an area where they have to deal with various problems people have and i know they have a dedicated psychological support resource they can talk to once a month or so. But i’ll ask her a bit about the techniques they were told in job preparation and if there are any online resources and see what she recommends or what they use. I don’t think ‘don’t ask the questions’ is the answer as if you do your job well (and you do 🙂 ) students will trust you and will tell you about other concerns they have as they will be entangled with the ones about their academics, it’s probably unavoidable.

    As to breaking at lunch, sigh, i eat in front of my PC 99% of the time so i’ll keep stumm. But as to walking your are onto something there, but i know transport by car is much more important there than it is here and you may not be in walking distance of work or such. Is there area where you live nice enough to walk around in? Maybe you could go for a walk in the evening before turning in? I always thought people were just going on about this kind of routine for exercise but i’m finding out for myself that it is great for stress relief.. If you can’t do it around work as not practical maybe you can do it around the home place? At a time that suits you better and such.
    My lunch break over i gotta get back to it 😉


    • I went to college on a scholarship that covered all of tuition and most of my living expenses, so I didn’t worry about money, either. Unfortunately the US has really changed its support for higher education and not in a good way.

      I live within walking distance of work but the walk is unfortunately not safe. Currently I’m trying to write nights …


  6. […] from here. I’m not sure how much sense this makes. Also, good friends of mine with whom I have never […]


  7. Servetus do you realize how tiny the font is on your blog. It is not easy to read against the black background.


  8. Oh btw, you have a very interesting job. It also does not surprise me that you are great at it.


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