A few weeks ago a student was asking me how I got from my degree to where I am now, and what career path brought me from entering college with the idea that I would be a high school English teacher to working in the UT Housing office. While we were discussing the somewhat meandering road I followed (which started with "All of my friends were applying for staff positions, so I figured I would, too..." because I was such a unique and independent thinker my freshman year) the student asked me a question that I thought I would file away for this month's 30 Days of Blogging:
"What do you like most and least about your job?"
Most: I like that I help people. Living arrangements can be stressful, and I like that I can help to relieve that stress a little bit so that our students can focus on more important things. Am I saving the world? No. I'm not curing cancer here, but I making life the slightest bit easier when I walk a student through the process for requesting a single room or I help put them together with their roommate. Does it mean that I can help every student that I work with? No, not directly. The most requested freshmen hall on campus only has 500 beds and we have 4300 freshmen, so everybody can't have what they want. However, I try to treat all students fairly, and I try to always offer an alternative solution, and I like to think that being treated with respect and having someone listen to your complaint even if they can't do anything to fix it helps in some way, too.
And it helps some people to hear the word "no" once or twice in their lives, so there's that, too.
Least: Sometimes I feel old.
In the fall semester I teach, and a couple years ago on the first day of class we were talking about what it means to be a college freshman, why you're here, what's different in college, what's the same, etc., and one of the students asked what it was like when I was a freshman. For just a second before answering I realized that the kids in my class were born during my freshman year of college. What was it like? It was like you weren't alive yet, kid in the front row. Most of the time working with college students energizes me, but every once in a while I just feel terribly disconnected and worlds away from them, and it makes me a little sad.
A colleague and I were discussing this in the fall, and I think she said it best when she said, "It feels that way because every fall when classes start we're a year older, but every fall the freshmen are always eighteen."
I love what I do, though, and I love where I work, so even though there are things that I like and dislike and days when I'm excited to go to work and days when I have no desire to get out of bed and drive to the office, I am overall happy.
And that's what a job should do for you.