Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: One Year Being a College Assistant.

I was working at the bookstore for 2 years at my alumna college. I was now the longest-working bookseller at the bookstore; I trained almost all of the booksellers that started at the bookstore that previous semester in Fall of 2021. After working on a syllabus for someone within Academic Affairs, I got an email about a possible position at the Registrar’s Office. After being on the job hunt for a possible new job position for the past couple of months, I agreed to go into this job interview to gather more information about the position and see if I would ultimately want to change jobs. A couple of days later, I met up with the person looking to hire me and once I spoke to her over our Zoom meeting, it wasn’t until after a couple of hours and some long conversation with my friends that I decided that the best move would be to take the job offer at the Registrar’s office.

Hi, my name is Liz, and today marks a year since I started my job as a college assistant at the Registrar’s Office.

When I first started at the Registrar’s Office, I remember getting a tour of the office from my supervisor at the time, I realized every just how experienced my co-workers were at this job. This was the first time hearing stories about how these co-workers worked in this office for over two decades! It was interesting to see so many people in the office working on specific things that contribute to the overall work that the Registrar’s office does. Slowly but surely, I would become one of those people that would specialize in something for the office, even though it took a lot of trial and error to be in the place I am today.

Getting the swing of the various things within my department had me feel anxious as the months passed by. Still being someone that was fairly new in the office, I had a lot of questions about situations that I wasn’t trained in at first, and with my supervisor juggling two positions, a lot of time it felt like I had to figure things out on my own. There were times I would come home from work crying because I felt like I screwed up on tasks because I didn’t know how to handle them. I thought my answers and solutions to things were stupid and unsure, which made those talking to me feel a sense of unease as well. I was going to work feeling a sense of dread because the uncertain routine I had going on was something that made me extremely anxious and nervous about what was to come. It got to the point where I considered leaving the office to find a new job elsewhere. I didn’t feel supported enough to keep going, and I didn’t know how long I would be able to ride it out before I allowed the job to really affect my mental health.

It wasn’t until the summer that more changes were being made in our office. People were leaving the office to transfer to other positions; my supervisor specifically had taken a position that was closer to her commute. I was even more nervous to now have temporary supervisors at a job where I was still unsure about my ability to do the job right. It was still a lot of crying and bad days, but what made things different this time was that my temporary supervisor became more than just a supervisor for the records department. She became a mentor to me.

My temporary supervisor, Christine, made sure to sit me down every Monday afternoon and check in with me before I started m shift at 1. She would ask me how my weekend was and ask me how everything was going with the transcripts and grade changes and anything else I was working on in records at that specific time. Some conversations were simple and fun, but others left me crying in her office expressing my insecurities and anxieties about the transition and still didn’t know if I belonged. I was now the youngest worker in the office after another college assistant transferred to another college, and my anxiety about my status in the office began to get to me again. Christine would even sometimes have me sit in her hours for hours on end to talk things out and give me advice and guidance about the office. Her encouraging and supportive words made my job a lot easier as the months went by. I felt like I was able to ask questions and be told what to say and what not to say and in all honesty, sitting in Christine’s office during our talks taught me a lot of things that I still take with me to work on a day-to-day basis. It was nice to take my confidence as a worker in that office and show that to my new supervisor, Brenda, who took the permanent position as the Head of Records within the office. That confidence, and just being vocal about my needs as a worker to someone new was refreshing and rewarding, which made the transition from our temporary supervisor to our new permanent one a smooth one.

I learned a lot being in this position in the year I’ve been there. First and foremost, I learned a lot about control; I was not able to control anyone and their actions, even if they affected me or involved me in any way shape, or form. I also learned that there were no stupid questions in that office; policies were constantly changing within CUNY and it was normal to ask questions if those things changed. Something that Christine told me early on in my time at the Registrar’s office was that you don’t get paid enough to have to deal with angry parents or students. This one was a big one for me; I felt like every rude parent or student that emailed me or called me meant that it was my fault or that I was doing something wrong. Even something minor like that eases my social anxiety a ton, and again it’s something that I am able to take as I handle students and parents because I know now I have the support needed to handle situations when they need a supervisor involved. Needless to say, it took some time for me to finally feel like an important asset in the office, even after the other college assistant in records left the Registrar’s office and I was now solely in charge of transcripts and grade changes.

In the year that I’ve been there, I was always asked if I wanted or if I was ever considering going full-time. CUNY jobs meant you had to take a test, pass it, and get offered a higher position at a CUNY college looking for new hires. As the other part-time workers left for full-time positions, I was the only one left in the office with my part-time position, and it was mainly because I don’t want to leave the office. I wasn’t ready to branch off to another school and work in a different office when really I feel like I’m at home in the Registrar’s office at CSI. I wanted to learn more about the different departments within the office in hopes that once I was ready to get a full-time position, I would feel confident in knowing everything in that office, pretty much how Christine did when she was once a college assistant working under my first supervisor.

Until I was offered a potential full-time position in the Registrar’s office.

One year in, and I am grateful that those around me in the office have seen just how much of a hard worker I am. I am passionate about everything that I do, and it could be discouraging when your work goes unnoticed by the people that matter the most. It feels good to hear supervisors in other departments within the office speak highly of me and my work ethic, and I am flattered they see the potential in me to try to change my part-time College Assistant position into a full-time Assistant to the HEO position. For context, that is the same position Christine is currently in. Nothing is set in stone, but the offer was offered to me and of course, I said I was interested.

I will forever be grateful for all of the opportunities that the Registrar’s office gave me; it’s prepared me to hopefully work full-time, 5 days a week, and get a salary rather than working hour by hour in the future. It’s allowed me to think about the future and how this is something I could do something in my 30’s. It’s seriously my first big girl job, and I’m excited to see this turn into a grown woman job in the future.

Here’s to another year at the Registrar’s office.

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