Working hard to organize the summer institute as well as putting my position to the best use has been difficult at times but definitely very rewarding.
Being an alumnus of the program as well as having worked within the program just past summer, gives me an advantage to better understand certain needs, tasks, and responsibilities. Last week was the week of supply drop off. The supplies for each scholar were supposed to be sorted, labeled, and ready to be delivered. Though that was the intention, some supplies were missing, others were not ready to be sorted, or some just were forgotten. This led to confusion and a slight setback. Because of the remote setting of the program, many of the teaching assistants (a position I had last summer) are not on Princeton’s campus and may even live in a different state and therefore cannot physically make any changes to supplies or help with distribution. I think because of my leverage of understanding of what is meant to happen from last year and just having some knowledge of the program I was able to step in when this happened and help with last-minute organization, packing, and distribution while others were unable to get to campus or were not present. There was no worry from my supervisor that I would need help, or would not fully understand the tasks which I’m sure was helpful for him to know and it felt good for me to confidently be able to step in and help out with tasks that weren’t necessarily intended for my position.
For a few weeks, my position responsibilities have been changing a lot and making my position more and more confusing and ambiguous. Last week I finally got a chance to talk with my supervisor about how we can make concrete projects and plans for me to be focused on for the summer. I served as a “back up” for a lot of the planning and organizing duties lately, which I did not mind, and actually enjoyed but I knew there was more that I could do with my position and things that we spoke about earlier in the summer. There have been many projects that have been abandoned over the years as other staff members became busier and preoccupied with other responsibilities. There was a project that really interested me and frankly would benefit me and my peers greatly. For many years now, the program was supposed to instate an alumni database, similar to our Jepson one, where any participant or alumni of the program can have live access to see where others went to college, graduate school, their job field, fellowships they received, etc. As a rising senior this would be extremely helpful for me but also for others who may be looking for jobs, opinions on universities, or just ways to network with our community. I advocated for picking this project back up and reaching alumni to make the database as big as it can be and help connect as many members of our community as possible.
Though my position and responsibilities often waver and change I am happy to be as useful as I can be and help out in any capacity and realm that I can.