How’s Your Work Family?

A familiar refrain in Student Affairs, particularly in areas like Residence Life and Student Activities, is “you’ll spend more time with your staff than with your own family.” If that’s true, it stands to reason that you’d want to have a relationship with those around you that somewhat mimics that of a family.

This past weekend, at my very first Planning Day (a SGA sponsored workshop day for our student organizations), there was a great moment that gave me insight into my office culture, and I felt was pretty telling about the personalities that I work with.

During the presentation for our office, my director spoke first and talked about how long he had been in the office, and what he did. Our Associate Director spoke next, mentioned how she had been there almost as long as our Director, and joked that they were like “an old married couple.” My fellow Assistant Director spoke next, referring to him as their “firstborn.” I went last, and what else could I do but refer to myself as the “newborn”, noting that I’d been there for six days? The group laughed, and we moved forward with our presentation. Like us as a staff, the presentation was informative, direct, but also funny and colorful.

I’m such a believer in the fact that the work we do is fun, and we should have fun telling others about it. The way we introduced ourselves to the group did more than let the students know what we do, it let them know who we are. We are here for you, and we know our stuff, but we also are fun people and want to have fun with you.

Consider the culture of your office, and how it’s expressed in the opportunities you have to present to others. Are you the tight-knit family, spending time together often and enjoying yourselves as a group? The “ships passing in the night” family, connected by work but constantly off working on different projects? If you have more than one office to which you report, does it sometimes feel like you’re shuttling between two parts of a broken home? Think about the sort of family your office could be described as, and how you show that personalities to others- other offices, students, even the community at large! And also, if you have suggestions for what colors we should wear for our Christmas card, let me know :

Amma Marfoa

Student Affairs - the First Years

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