>Working Man

>My first week of work has come and gone at the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs.  Yes, that’s the official name of the office and it’s quite a mouthful, but I’ve been finding ways to abbreviate. 

I suppose I’m now a working man, as I sit watching Sunday football in the living room with Anshu, contemplating the inevitability of Monday morning.  Fortunately, I am looking forward to getting back in there and continuing the process of acclimating myself to the office.  The only unpleasant adjustment has been getting my mind and body on-board with a new schedule that involves getting up at 7:30am every day.

Overall, I am very pleased with my coworkers, my responsibilities, and the work that we do in the office.  I am inspired by the anticipation of fulfillment–the type of satisfaction that I’ve previously only dreamed about finding in the working world so soon after graduating.  To be specific, I’m referring to moments where one has the chance to play a direct role in improving the quality of another person’s life or help them to solve a problem.  I use the phrasing “has the chance” because there is a clear distinction between having the opportunity to help someone and having the means and ability to follow through.  As my training continues, I will undoubtedly have more opportunities to help people, but I will also continue to acquire the means to address their concerns in a more complete capacity.  This past week has been mostly about getting used to using the office—the phone, the fax, the computer.  But I’ve also learned about the process of filing an allegation of sexual harassment and helped to arrange reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

I am also lucky to begin this job during a period of change.  The office had been without an executive director for two years, up until this past May.  With his fresh and energetic perspective on how our office should function within Penn’s sometimes disjointed administration, I believe we are heading in a very positive, proactive direction.  Instead of simply reacting to incidents across campus, our office needs to get involved in teaching, informing, and guiding the University.  Our functions are not constrained by any preset standards—instead, we have the opportunity to become a true resource to all staff, faculty, and students.  I think it starts with our image, updating what we stand for across multiple platforms by partnering with other resource centers, co-sponsoring important events, and providing extensive, user-friendly information on the web.

I get the sense that my supervisors see my position, Administrative Coordinator, as central to the revamping of our office, and I’m excited to provide that youthful, energetic spark.  In time, I’ll become so familiar with the day-to-day operations of the office that I’ll have plenty of free time to think creatively about how we can make positive changes in the way the University goes about encouraging equality and diversity at Penn.

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