As my year as an International Student Services Peer Helper comes to a close, I am reflecting on my experience and how it changed my perception on work-life. Prior to working at the ISSO, I had not held any jobs with real-life working experiences, so I was both excited and scared to try out this new experience. Through orientation for peer helpers, I kept asking myself, What if I fail? What if other people are more experienced than me, smarter than me, What if no one helps me, or likes me? However, I did not expect these people to not only come to like me, but also to appreciate and respect me.
The ISSO never held an desk-job feel to me. Sure, we had desk jobs, planning events, filling risk-management forms, organizing major projects and working under tight-budgets. However, at the ISSO, not once did I ever feel bored, unappreciated or under-managed, all situations that may happen in one’s work-life. My ideas were always appreciated, put into consideration and even when it was not possible to make it all happen, due to budget cuts or time, a compromise was reached. I never felt pressure from the Director, Co-ordinator or Managers, but felt like a colleague, given room to grow, learn and take risks.
Working at the ISSO also taught me what an office-family meant and looked like. Everyone at the office was welcoming and appreciative. Between the Get-to-Know staff potlucks, the constant laughter and the equal-opportunity-in-practice environment, I felt both professional and comfortable. Working at the ISSO set the bar high for my future professional jobs, as it has given me expectations for what working at a talented office, which appreciates its employees, looks like.
Leaving the ISSO, I have not only immensely gained in professional development and working experiences, I have also grown in relying on peer help and job appreciation, because, the International Student Services Office for me, was not just an office, but a family.
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