A little over one year ago, I was starting my first Graduate Assistantship. I was working as a Hall Director at Notre Dame College (NDC), a small, private, liberal arts college in South Euclid, Ohio. During some administrative reshuffling, the Hall Director graduate assistants were reworked into a full time Residential Education Coordinator position. I moved into another newly reworked graduate assistant role at NDC. The role I currently occupy is First Year Experience and Leadership. This is a joint role between a new initiative to create a cohesive First Year Experience and a newly retooled Student Engagement. I work heavily with one supervisor during August and the first six weeks of the year and another supervisor for the remainder of the year (with occasional projects with the FYE supervisor). Sound complicated? Well, it can be if there is no communication between all the parties. Luckily for me there is ample communication and I am enjoying every moment of it.
However, there is a learning curve. You might think that being at the same place for one year would mean that I know something about how August is supposed to work, but there was definitely a learning curve. I had to work through August from a completely different angle than before. Instead of Resident Assistant training at the beginning of August I was preparing for Welcome Weekend Leader training towards the end. Things were definitely different. I recognized that I was in a transition (very Schlossberg’s Transition Theory of me, right?).
Because I am still going through this transition- I wanted to write a small blog post about it. Also, I wanted to share some of what I have done to make my transition feel pretty seamless. Please note that these are all written from the perspective of changing into a different role at the SAME institution. Here are my two pieces of advice:
- Meet with your new supervisor early and regularly BEFORE you start
Unless you will be supervised by a position that has yet to be filled (or was just created) you should meet with your future supervisor early in the process and regularly too. This allows you to get to know them and their supervisory style a little bit before you officially start. It also gives you the opportunity, if you are moving into a new department entirely, to get to know your future coworkers and learn about the office culture.
If your supervisor has not been hired yet try to be involved in the hiring process or meet with the hiring committee chair to let them know what you are looking for in a supervisor. This is also a good time to talk to your supervisor about your concerns or questions about the position. This leads into my next point…
- Make sure you get a position description early on in the process
You want to know what you will be doing, right? Get the earliest iteration of your future job responsibilities so you have time to meet with your supervisor or another relevant person to ensure your concerns are noted and acted upon. The last thing you want to do is wait until you start to ask about what you will be doing… Another piece of advice is to ask if it has been updated. As a graduate assistant, you are not a part of many conversations. You don’t want to be surprised with additional responsibilities because they had a meeting and forgot to update you.
Stay tuned for future posts on my blog! I am going to try to post once a week. What might I post about? I’ll post about events in my graduate school life, reflections, and occasionally I will interview people in the field and post them too. Stay tuned while I find my online voice!