Post Academic

The Hamster World: Be Your Own Admin

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on July 12, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension… unless you’re really important.

The role of an admin in the Hamster World is not to keep you organized. That luxury exists solely for the big boss. In many offices, it doesn’t exist at all. (I’ve had at least two jobs where there was no receptionist, and whoever was closest to the door or phone had to handle the situation. Woe to the person sitting closest to the door.)

The notion of everyone having a secretary, a la Mad Men, cracks me up. In the Hamster World, your administrator is named Microsoft Outlook, not Joan Holloway. Though you can probably create a curvaceous avatar to accompany your meeting reminders if you are so inclined.

People similar to the ones Arnold described do indeed exist. Here are the Hamster World counterparts to the Grad World Admins:

The Grad Administrator: That’s HR, master of “arcane rules.” You need these people because they make sure you have health insurance. Sometimes you need to vet your HR person and nag them to do important things. I worked with one person in HR who flat-out forgot to send in my health insurance form. But I’ve also worked with others who were amazing and genuinely concerned about the well-being of employees. Mileage may vary. Be nice to them, and don’t scream at them. Sometimes they are just the messenger when the bigwigs in the company decide to change health insurance or pet insurance or lay you off or whatever.

More after the jump! Image of man at work by Eugen Nosko from Deutsche Fotothek, on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Know who’s boss: Meet the dept admin and staff

Posted in Surviving Grad School,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on July 8, 2010
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As a graduate student, you can often feel beholden to many people.  There’s your advisor, whom you at once admire, probably like, and fear a lot, when you’re not misreading his/her intentions.  There are the faculty members besides your advisor, who inspire some of the same feelings, though in lesser degrees.  And then there are your students, whom you hold the power of grading over–even as they wield the nuclear deterrent of Rate My Professors.

"Meeting in Air Force One conference room" by the White House (Public Domain)

But sometimes, it’s easy to forget who actually hold the biggest sway over your day-to-day lives as peons on the hamster wheel of academia: the admin and staff.  That’s right, the folks you think who are so tangential to your academic career that you forget that you’re probably in contact with them as much as anyone.  But just because they are neither peers nor superiors nor student consumers doesn’t mean that you should disregard them, even if you’re doing so unconsciously.  Remember, they’re the ones who have access to your vital stats, decide your course assignments, input your payroll data and benefits–you name it, they’re doing it.  Just think of your grad administrator like Rahm.  So, one, you better appreciate ’em, even if they seem a bit odd to you.  Two, you better get along with ’em.  And, three, some of them are actually pretty cool folks, who have normal interests that make you realize that not all the chit-chat in the dept office needs to be shop talk.

After the jump, get acquainted with the folks you need to acquaint yourselves with…