Maybe I’m A Builder

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” Jim Rohn

Building in the literal sense with Habitat for Humanity

When I was in graduate school, a president from a local college spoke about some substantial changes he was making as the new president to “turn the school around”. At one point in his presentation, he made the statement, “I’m a change agent.” He continued to talk about how, at many points in his career, he has been brought into a situation where an organization was struggling or failing and managed to turn that organization around to being successful – by any means possible. He changed organization structure, culture, expanded or completely altered mission statements, thought outside the box, went outside the norms, and, sometimes made people angry. He was a change agent.

In my current job, I perform two roles. I’m an area coordinator for residence life and my collateral assignment (aka: other full-time job) is international student support services with an emphasis on supporting matriculating international students. I oversee 3 residence halls, 21 RAs, 3 RHCs, and I am the one woman office of international student support.

This position never existed at the institution prior to my employment. I’m the only one who has held this role. I did all my own research on best practices for int’l student support, attended a regional NAFSA conference (amazing!), conducted a needs assessment, read the CAS standards and modeled the program I am building accordingly, crafted a definition of the students the position is meant to serve, and designed support services to meet academic, cultural, and social needs.  Each semester, I assess the effectiveness of the programs and services, write reports on the findings, and distribute them to relevant college constituents. At any given time, someone could walk in my office, pick up the procedures manual I have built, and pick right up where I left off.

A job I am currently interested in (and really hope I get, well wishes appreciated) is also a newly designed position. A moldable, measurable, make-it-up-as-you-go and learn position. I acknowledge and know that these positions come with a ton of challenges and sometimes turmoil, but I’m not discouraged by that.

This leads me to ask myself… if that president was a change agent… maybe I’m a builder?

When I shared this idea with my current supervisor, Kelly, she said to me: “Well! If you’re a builder, I’m an EMT. Let me tell you about…”

If you could make your own category, throw away old titles, and pick your own label for the work you like to do, what would you call it? What would you be? How do you know?

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