Watch out, friends, because it’s another personal processing post coming at you live. This one has been building up for a little bit. If you’re a regular reader, you are probably not shocked at all by any of these “revelations” today. But, I wanted to process a bit. Mostly about becoming jaded, as that’s something that certainly has happened, ever since I went full-time into the work force. I’m struggling a bit with that knowledge and how to navigate my day job while knowing it’s made me jaded.
Certainly looking for advice with this one, but I won’t turn out sympathetic reads, either. (Or, honestly, call outs, if that’s warranted!)
As Always, The Context
Without diving too much into the specifics and accidentally doxxing myself, I currently work at the same university I attended undergrad. I’ve worked here since early 2016, so that’s what, roughly seven years? (By gods, I can’t believe that.) The first four years were as a librarian’s assistant. The past three years, it’s been as an academic advisor.
The job itself is something I highly enjoy. I get to use my Type A organizational skills to help my students stay on track to graduate. Sometimes, I serve as a mentor and example to them. Other times, I’m simply a resource. But having a job where I feel like I’m actually making a positive impact means more than I honestly expected. Especially since it’s much higher stress than my previous job.
Where I’ve become jaded (to the point of actually sometimes being ashamed to have graduated from this institution) is thanks to the leadership and supervision within academic advising. It has been toxic the entire time I’ve been here. (Though I didn’t start to notice it and struggle with it until about half a year in.) Currently, we are going through a restructure, which is combining eight individual advising units into one unit.
Current Jaded Examples
Hopefully, that context helped so we can get into the actual meat of this situation. At first, I was very excited about the restructure. Like most things in academia, it came from on high, without much input or feedback from those affected. But, I hoped it would be a way to address the toxic work environment within our office; one that, so far, had been ignored and left unchecked.
We’re just officially starting the transition this week, yet I find myself feeling frustrated and defeated by it already. I’m wondering if this is unfair. Are those feelings actually a result of me hanging onto the negative association I label my day job with? Some examples of why I’m feeling frustrated include:
Lack of accountability
So, in the restructure, they had chances for advancement (which included current leadership needing to reapply for those roles). I have mixed feelings about that process. But, selfishly, I hoped that the rationale behind it was to quietly demote toxic leaders.
Yet my supervisor was rehired, who is one of the most toxic I’ve ever encountered. And there are multiple others who were promoted who I’m shocked about. (Not to mention rumors supposedly from members of the search committee that those hires didn’t match their recommendations).
So, despite my new assignment to a team that isn’t with my toxic supervisor, the entire process felt too akin to the “old” model, which included favoritism and popularity contests.
Feeling unheard (already)
Though much of our new processes aren’t yet known, we have gotten some clarity on a few things. Namely: expectations of how our calendars will be managed, what our remote days will be and how team meetings will be handled.
As this was starting to be revealed, I pitched an idea of how to set up our calendars. At it’s core, it’s purpose was to still give plenty of availability for our students, but without burning out advisors. The burn out has been a major concern in the past. One that was met with two answers from our leadership: this is how it’s always been OR you must do this, for your students. I backed up my pitch with data, support from other advisors and with the idea that it could be a trial run, to be revisited if it didn’t work.
The answer was…less than ideal. Basically, the current leadership team already has their own ideas, so they won’t be entertaining ones from us. Then, not a week later, they announced that they are taking away an hour of prep/catch-up time to make us available to see 12 students a day, instead of 10. (My pitch was to see 8 students a day, which would still allow us, mathematically, to see each assigned student twice a semester).
This makes me feel ridiculously unheard and not even remotely understood. I explained my concerns and the response was, “we want all of our advising to be unified as one team, so this is how it’s going to be this semester.” Despite the fact that my concern is that my quality of advising is going to decrease, lacking accurate time to prepare each day.
The sense of putting advisors last
On top of all this, one of the things promised to us in May, when this was first announced, was that pay inequities would be addressed. For context: depending on which unit advisors were in, some were paid more than others doing the exact same job. We were all very excited for this, because that meant raises (including for me).
Yet, as they hired the new group of advisors (since they’re also expanding) at the new higher rate, they haven’t yet addressed our pay. So, everyone new (including those freshly graduated with this as their first job) are making more than some of us who have been here years (some even with advanced degrees).
Then, they announced that they wouldn’t even start looking at pay increasing and addressing that until October. So, it most likely won’t go into effect until December. This, on top of the top-down leadership brainstorming taking in no feedback, the keeping of some toxic leadership and already making changes we didn’t ask for, feels like everything is, so far, being determined with current advisors last in considerations.
So, that’s where we’re at, currently. Personally, it’s left me feeling a bit hopeless. Where I once was excited about the changes, now I feel like it’s the same bullshit, new name. And, because I’ve been dealing with this for three years, I’m becoming even more jaded about it all.
But, I worry that level of jadedness I’m feeling is going to make me a bad teammate and employee. I already feel alienated in speaking up with criticism multiple times and being met with a “well, we’re a team, so you need to participate in that” response. It makes me worry that I’m actually in the wrong, here, and letting my past negative experiences color what’s currently going on and not giving it enough of a chance.
I’d love your thoughts on this. Am I so jaded that I need to check myself and rework my mindset to be more open minded and less judgmental? Or, is the jadedness justified and I need to stay in the survival mode I’ve been in until I get my degree and bounce? I’d really appreciate your honest opinions, friends!