Culture Shock

I don’t have today off. The past two years I did, but the five before that I was also working on Labor Day.

Every school has different rules and regulations in their different offices. Some rules are set in stone while others are more “unofficial”. All of my friends are working at different schools this year and while it’s interesting to see how their offices function, it can be frustrating at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love my office and I LOVE working at a small school, but it can definitely have its downsides.

Office hours (and locations) for Residence Life workers can vary by college. At my previous school, the professionals did not have set hours that they needed to be in their offices. They could set those hours and sometimes they varied by week. Also, their offices were located in the buildings they supervised. I have actual assigned office hours. A lot of them. Several of my coworkers have complained about this because they don’t want to go to night time events because it’s adding hours. One thing that came out of this is a change in office hours if you are on call – you can come in later the next morning, but it is expected that you pop into some of the programming going on in the residence halls while you are on call.

Speaking of on call. Working at a small school means you are on call more often. This is one thing I really dislike, but I know it comes with working at ANY small school. And seriously, I mean it when I say I love working at a small school.

Dress codes can also vary. I have to be dressed like a real person during office hours, but once the clock hits five, I can run home and change into jeans. Unfortunately, I’ve had plenty of meetings held at night that I still feel the need to be dressed nice for. Oops. I guess that’s one of those unwritten things.

Moving to ANY new job, you have to re-learn who does what in the office. It’s one thing to figure out who makes copies and who you call for certain things. It’s another to figure out a new system of what RAs handle and what you handle as a professional. I know that I’m probably going to mess up a few times, but hopefully my RAs will be understanding.

And lastly…this is a small thing but it makes me so happy. My current department head still slips up and says “dorms” every so often. Why does this make me so happy? I know professionally we say “residence hall” but ALL the students say dorm. So do the facilities workers, professors, and parents. It’s a cultural thing. It annoys me when people suddenly try to change the name of things (this happened a lot at my undergrad) and it honestly makes my current department seem more laid back. Whenever the administrators at my old institution tried to correct somebody (usually a student), it just seemed like they were taking themselves too seriously.

What surprised you when you started a new job? For those of you preparing to job search this coming year, what characteristics or policies from your current institution are a MUST at your new institution?

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One thought on “Culture Shock

  1. […] to give a small school a try. And I love it. I do. I’ve probably said it a hundred times (well, at least here). But one thing that was kind of a bummer was training. Well. I should say the lack of […]

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