Working in student support is certainly a fulfilling and worthy area of employment in a University environment. Of course, a University thrives on the academic quality and the teaching spaces. But let’s not forget about the teams of administrative support that underpin an excellent student experience.
These fast-paced, busy environments can often mean that it’s difficult to reflect or review career progress and keep track of accomplishments. Perhaps the repetitiveness of the tasks or the nuance of the role becomes lost amongst the different types of ‘work’. Completed tasks then may feel slight, mediocre and perhaps insignificant.
But what is in the detail?
If you have aspirations of progressing within the sector, especially in this competitive area of employment, I suggest keeping a monthly log of all your key areas of work.
If like me you are more of a ‘doer’ and perhaps have an introverted nature you might struggle to accurately remember your individual impact. You might not account for the projects you spent time thinking about, the conversations you had that led to change in your area of work or recall the many other duties that led to the collective success for your team. Keeping a diary of activities can also serve as a highly valuable mental ‘resource pool’ such as when providing examples of your individual contributions at a job interview.
Since working in Higher Education, I have been keeping a list for the last 5 years. Each month I update a Word document with a single line bullet-pointed entry. It’s an efficient, time saving way of capturing key accomplishments – recognition, awards, praise and changes you implemented are all obvious examples. However, it is also a way of keeping a record of things that didn’t go so well or perhaps seemed mundane at the time. Difficult conversations, projects that failed or did not materialise or maybe changes imposed upon you. They can be triggers for remembering the soft skills like resilience or interpersonal style that got you through a tricky time.
After all, it’s the challenges we encounter that develop us as professionals.