Access is Power

In my previous reflections, I have touched on the significance of collaboration in the Events Office, emphasizing that this style of work is necessary for the maintenance of details and overall morale (~when teamwork meets diligence~). I want to reiterate this again, but through a slightly different analysis that zeros in on the intersection of peer-collaboration and resource-accessibility—the sweet spot, so to speak, for optimal effectiveness. Thus, I would like to narrow the focus of this reflection on how we as student interns, in particular, collaborate in the context of the broader whole. When and why are we most efficient? And, with which resources? In addition to pondering these questions, I will briefly analyze operational areas that may benefit from improvement—assessing certain inefficiencies/discrepancies in our work that currently impede forward progress. Lastly, I will consider how the Leadership major equips its students with the ability to recognize these potential shortcomings in a variety of industries (with implicit reference to teachings on critical thinking, justice, group dynamics, and ethics).

On a micro scale, our job as student interns is to carry out the daily tasks in preparation for camps and conferences arriving on campus—emailing conference heads/camp directors/coaches, putting up signs, getting One Card information squared away, and conducting room checks. Each request that requires immediate or eventual attention must be uniquely addressed per group, so we have to engage in a lot of spontaneous team-brainstorming sessions in order to get the job done. For example, if a group faces the infamous clogged toilet scenario, we receive a call, and subsequently direct the news to Facilities (on-campus saints). Before groups arrive, we communicate directly with the One Card office on campus, but these correspondences are less matter-of-fact, and more continual, than calling Facilities with a request. I would say that we collaborate more with One Card, whereas we delegate/coordinate with Facilities. One Card is a lot of guess and check/consistent communication, and our consultations can get a bit messy if the work is not organized up front on our end. This has taught me not only the importance of meeting deadlines for the sake of honoring somebody else’s time and efforts, but I also realize now that deadlines motivate us to complete the next task for a higher purpose. It is sometimes easy to get lost in the minutia of the work that we complete behind the scenes due to the pressure of impending deadline, but without deadlines, we would probably have less of a reason to collaborate. And, without collaboration, we would most certainly not meet deadlines..

Though it is necessary to meet these deadlines in an efficient manner, it is also important that we keep the big picture in sight, which is to serve our clients in the best way that meets their requests/visions. When we circle back to a foundation of collaboration—accessing/leaning on our resources—we feel more equipped to tackle deadlines for a broader purpose, operating out of a macro perspective. The behind-the-scenes work, then, loses its tedious nature and becomes a learning journey. Needless to say, when we lose this foundation, we have no cushion to break the fall of mishaps. What I have come to realize is that collaboration is virtually impossible without accessibility of resources, and we cannot tap into what we have at our disposal if worry/stress/lack of communication dominate the culture of our everyday. To these points, it is difficult to set long-term goals when the short-term demands engulf us. In other words, when we remember to put our heads together and stay on top of the work (or, “stay afloat”, rather), no assistant manager gets left behind, and no task gets overlooked.

I will now quickly address some of the inefficiencies that I have observed thus far, per the guidelines of this prompt. There are certain inefficiencies that exist from an operational standpoint, most of which are due to the nature of the events industry. Due to our varying shifts (#1: 7am-3:30pm, #2: 8:30am-5pm, #3: 10:30am-7pm), we sometimes get our wires crossed in terms of knowing who has already completed which task, who has emailed whom, what still needs to be done and by when, etc. etc. Recently, I have noticed that if not all of the assistant managers are cc’d on an email containing One Card/group planning information, communication begins to slip through the cracks (especially if somebody has had a day off in the mix of these correspondences). This is not an opportunity to point fingers, of course; rather, it reveals a fact-of-the-matter truth: event-planning has a lot of zigzagging parts. Conceptually, then, our goal is to streamline these moving parts into a linear pathway on which clients get to traverse through their program/camp/conference—unscathed. After some self-reflection, I have come to a consensus (with myself?) that it is okay, and beneficial, to express/point out these holes in communication. In truth, the worst that can happen with admitting to confusion is an “I’m not sure” response in return—at which point, you get to put your heads together and collaborate once again! Sounds efficient to me.

Finally, as a person who is studying Leadership, I feel that I have a unique perspective that couples not only the humanist and the social scientist, but also the critical thinker and the astute judge of ethics. Leadership has taught me that the value of time is precious, and how we use our time in collaborative efforts is crucial to how we learn and grow.

One thought on “Access is Power

  • July 10, 2019 at 3:28 pm
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    I can only imagine how challenging it is – with all the moving parts – to keep everyone up to speed on the status of preparations, addressing issues, etc. Seems perhaps that some way to manage each camp – some platform (Slack, a shared Google document, etc.) that could be used so that all interested parties could access updates about what tasks are completed, what deadlines are for each item, which calls/inquiries/responses have been completed, etc. Not sure if there is any such mechanism in place for the events team to use? Might be something that you could suggest? Really thoughtful reflection about a really challenging environment.

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