In the Thick of It …

So, my job is titled Graduate Advising Coordinator.  When people ask what I do, it is always a little hard to really put it into words, but I decided today, while I am in the thick of it, I would give you a glimpse into what my days entail.

It seems like there are different seasons to my job every semester.  Right now is the beginning of advising season.  That means that for  the next 6 weeks, I will spend all day everyday meeting with our graduate students and doing their advising sessions.  These happen over the phone, online, in my office, and through email, so I am pretty much at my desk for everything but meetings for 6 weeks.  I am in charge of advising for 10 different graduate education programs and have around 650 actively enrolled advisees.  I also work with the readmission process for those that took a break in the midst of their program, advise and register the new students that are being accepted, and spend a good chunk of time helping with our processes and tracking things.  That seems like a lot of really boring desk work to most people (me included) and that is why I say it is so hard to put into words what I do everyday.

The conversations that I get to have with our graduate students are inspiring.  Sometimes my job is to be their shoulder to cry on.  Sometimes it is to be the one to tell them to get focused and get it done.  I get the privilege of sharing in their successes and being a confidant for many when life is hard.  That doesn’t really fit well in a job description.  Since most of my students are online students, I don’t get that many that come in my office on a daily basis.  Kinda seems like it would be lonely, doesn’t it?  Luckily that void is filled with undergraduate students that need a place to hang out or unload about what is going on in their life.

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I’ll let you in on a secret … the thing that I loved most about teaching were the relationships I made with my students and helping them more than they thought they were capable of becoming.  Fortunately for me, that is now what I do all day every day.  I’m not a counselor, just a shoulder to cry on.  I’m not their mom, but I will share my life experiences with them.  I’m not the one with all the answers, but I will help you figure out some possibilities.

A lot of people would look at my job from the outside and say that I spend all my time with spreadsheets and emails.  I prefer to look at it from this side and realize that I really spend my time with people.  People that may share some of the same characteristics, but who are unique individuals that are working towards a goal.  It isn’t a job that you will hear much about, and it isn’t a job that you hear children say they want to be when they grow up, but it is my job and I am thankful for it.

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Sometimes it isn’t easy to take the time to do something for someone else.  It isn’t that we don’t want to help others, but we are busy.  There are a million things on our plates, the stress level is high, the caffeine level is low (this can’t just be a thing that happens to me), the patience is worn thin, we are tired, we don’t feel good, we just want to be left alone, or we just aren’t in the mood.  Remember, showing that you care doesn’t take a long time.  Sometimes it can just be a simple email or text of encouragement.

How will you make a difference today?