An Anniversary of Sorts

The month of June is an anniversary for me. In 2011 it marked the start of this whole new part of my life called “post vet school” or, settling down as others might say. I am emotional as I start to write because in some ways the grief that I felt when realizing that I was going to say goodbye to people who had become a strong support system for me still surfaces. Starting with co-workers who were now influential men and women in my life, and then the girlfriends that I had found in my adult life, who knew me as my most present self, the parting process was so hard. I have come to find over this past year, with victories and defeats alike, that settling down is not as smooth as one might believe.

Yesterday was a tough day at the new job…lots of realities presenting themselves to me and I wasn’t receiving them in the best way. I came home in a resistant frame of mind, which led to a poor night’s sleep despite all of the yoga poses in the world and a long, long walk after the sun went down. I woke this morning with aches, both mental and physical, and as I explore them I find myself uncovering what’s behind the aches: In this new job, I ache for familiarity. And even though I can look back and vividly remember the rough start with my job in Philadelphia, I no longer give too much attention to that anniversary beyond “that really sucked.”  Instead, the part that stands out is the good stuff: the freedom of being able to come and go from my office, meeting a friend for lunch just by walking two blocks into the city, sunny afternoons in the park, lunch with co-workers, connection with colleagues. How do I let the good stuff stand out at this new job, and not start a new “rough patch” anniversary? I don’t know if it’s possible at this exact moment. There is a different kind of freedom in coming and going, although it involves driving everywhere. It is a quieter office than the one I had in Philadelphia, yet I am still learning to tune out the conversations you inevitably overhear thanks to this quietness. Co-workers are beyond nice, but I still don’t know them and what’s underneath the surface. Boss is very pleasant and approachable, while not exactly inspiring or proactive. I know there are more good things to be written about, but I haven’t been there long enough to see them…

Do I want my “former” life back from a year ago? Not necessarily. More like confirmed closure, or a proper compartment in my memory, where I can call upon this anniversary of change and find comfort in knowing I moved far enough beyond it to grow even more. And I believe this will give me the courage and strength to see the good stuff even on the days when I ache.

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How to Have a Productive Meeting at Work

One week into the new job and all is well. Today started out like any other Monday with the standard morning meeting. I think it’s funny to meet on Mondays because quite frankly, nothing has probably changed since oh, Friday, which means there is very little to catch up on during this time. The 2nd meeting, however, was probably even more pointless due to a lack of understanding of what each campus location does for their recruiting efforts and intended audiences. For example, in Wichita they do very little to actively recruit since the school is well known. Many of their leads are walk-ins and therefore they turn into applicants/enrolled students almost immediately. Here in Kansas City, we attend job fairs, education fairs, host open houses, conduct live chats online, etc. to constantly add to the pool of leads that will hopefully someday become a new cohort for one of our advance degree programs. There is a lot of relationship building and “courting” if you would, before the lead becomes an enrolled student. In Topeka, their situation is quite similar to ours,  just with a different audience. Given all of these differences, why then were we meeting via long distance to discuss a general recruiting strategy for our university? More importantly, why doesn’t one already exist? I was blown away by the Wichita campus’ responses to some of the questions about when they follow up to inquiries. The answer in a nutshell was whenever they felt like it. Huh. And I wondered why on my first day on the job there wasn’t a training guide or manual on the recruiting process. (BTW recruiting adult students for advance degree programs is totally different from recruiting for undergrads.)

For the future, some tips off the top of my head for hosting a productive meeting at work:

1. Be certain that you are at the correct starting point of discussion. For our recruitment strategy meeting this morning, we should have been spending time, or already been informed of, the various ways in which the satellite locations were operating AND incorporating/acknowledging those differences into the discussion. My colleague even stated during the meeting that we do things differently, and the facilitator of the meeting responded with, “oh” and kept plowing through the agenda as if she told her the sky was blue.

2. Be certain that the meeting is necessary. What good information will be shared at this time? This morning I learned that two staff members were having x-rays taken, another going to her pap smear exam, and yet another prepping for a meeting. None of these updates effected me personally or professionally.

3. Do not schedule meetings back to back. I was in a “meeting” from the time I walked in the door through the lunch hour. All with the same people. We really didn’t have much to say to one another during our luncheon special of a cold, catered taco bar. And now I have all afternoon to update this blog, go to Starbucks, and check FB.

Please feel free to add to this list as needed.

Until we meet again…;)

 

Do you remember your first time?

When I got home from my first day of the new job yesterday I was pretty fried. Brain had stopped processing around 3:30p.m., about the time when the director (my boss) had launched into hour 3 of her introduction to the university’s computer system. I did my best to smile politely and nod, but when she asked me if I wanted to know about SPATEN (which apparently I wouldn’t need to know how to use for another few weeks) I said no. I don’t understand why employers think that offloading every fact in their mind about their organization to a new employee on their first day is called orientation. Needless to say when I got home, I immediately when into some yoga postures to relax, unwind, and breathe again.

Later I got to thinking about all of the”first days on the job” I have had in my life and was reflecting on how this day stacked up against the rest. If I start with jobs I held in high school, I count 14 firsts:

1. Some dr’s office in Hyde Park – totally random job; isolated from the rest of the office and didn’t care except for free lunches from drug reps
2. Crabtree & Evelyn – very sweet boss; straight, to-the-point training
3. Banana Republic – Cincinnati- hardly remember since I was there for 2 months; manager thought she was awesome
4. Library at SCU – eh. Librarians were full of themselves.
5. Front desk at SCU – First day was like being at camp. I think we had cookies and colored our own nametags.
6. Global Data Supply – strange, strange place led by a former Dallas Cowboy and never-made-it-big ice skater; “office” was tucked away at the far end of a hallway; thankful for smoke breaks with warehouse dudes
7. Systems America, Inc. – Not impressed; mostly empty business center with a larger-than-life HR manager/friend who was missing her pilot/boyfriend a lot and didn’t really provide training
8. Heuristics Search – Kind of miserable; witnessed the person in my position being escorted in tears out the front door before noon,  which left me with no training; had to rely on information from random teenage boy/orphan who was “adopted” by the CEO to be her assistant; if it wasn’t for the elaborate building, office with window, and delicious lunches that were paid for, I would not have returned the 2nd day.
9. Santa Clara University – awesome first day; great co-workers from the start; had lunch with the marketing manager who had a thing for pretty girls. Harmless.
10. Kansas State University –  met two bosses on the first day, neither of whom I had met before arriving in Kansas. Treated to a BBQ lunch and able to go home early. Neither awesome, nor terrible.
11. Banana Republic – Philadelphia – uh, right. If there was ever a more intimidating first day at a retail job, it would be this one. Lots of confusion, no direction, and headsets that did not work.
12. Community College of Philadelphia – see above, except replace “retail job” with “college;” scared to eat at food trucks
13. Banana Republic – Kansas – uneventful; liked getting coffee at Nordstroms cafe
14. new Kansas  job – information overload; unawareness from director about quality vs quantity of information being offered in the first 8 hours of being on the job; unprepared for hour long lunch and had to get McDonalds. Bleh.

Obviously the student jobs had the easiest firsts, aside from the library. For some reason I hated working at the library, partly because I didn’t feel like I belonged there, and partly because you couldn’t talk to anyone. For the other full time jobs, the firsts were not really great when I line them up together. I think it is easy to romanticize past work experiences when starting something new and unfamiliar. At this moment in time I am comparing this 2-day-old job to CCP, but I can’t forget how rough going it really was: the person who hired me turned in his notice a month after I started, three out of the five women in the office wouldn’t talk to me, and there was no boundaries in the office between staff and students.  It took 3 years to arrive at a solid place with CCP, and who knows if that is where this job will lead me. One thing is certain–I have to have a first in order to be successful, even if that first seems to replay itself at every new job. First day nerves, first week doubts, first month burnout. I wonder how I can learn to appreciate the firsts instead of dread them…

The end is always the start of something new…

Whew. June 4, 2012. The end of spring days, and almost the start of summer time at the pool. The end of my job searching, and the start of a new job next week. For my sister, the end of her nomadic days in Alaska and the start of a home with her husband and Sounder. Recently on FB I learned of the passing of a high school friend’s brother due to cancer.  For his family, it’s the end of countless trips to the hospital and let down hopes, and the start of the grieving process. It haunted me for most of the day when I first read it, and I have been emotional off and on as various thoughts pass through my mind about my own brother and our relationship. Growing up we were the typical brother/sister….fighting over stupid stuff, competitive at everything, and I have a very clear memory of a time when he became so upset with my dad for not making the time to help him with homework. He believed it was because my dad loved me more. As a teenager I did not know how to process that information except, “not true” and forgetting about it the next day. As an adult, I can see and appreciate how hurt he was at that time, and the effect it had on their relationship since then. My dad: doing anything at whatever moment’s notice for my brother and his family. My brother: engaging in conversation with my dad about anything that interests him–cars, buying cars, looking for good deals, cars. The underlying message from their actions is quite simple in that they love each other. But why can’t they just say it? Why can’t people just say it instead of dancing around the issue? I struggled with this for a while with my relationship with my mom and although I never reached a conclusion as to why, I decided it didn’t matter. I would just start acting with more love towards her. The end of my own control and ego, and the start of more love.  I do not talk to my brother on the phone. Instead when I am home for the holidays or a random trip alone, we chat about trivial things and engage in a random night or two of drinking. For now this is our way of communicating, but I would like to start something new. I would like to talk to him about him, and not about the kids or whatever else is happening. So I have an intention to end taking for granted the fact that I have a brother, and the start of treating our relationship with care and compassion. Yep.