In another life, I would’ve worked on Broadway as a stage manager. Or as an air traffic controller. Or as a dog show planner. Essentially, anything with a walkie talkie earpiece and a clip board.
My GA experience is like that, but with emails, and a team of friends.
I am part of a team of 7 IEDP GAs. Each of us has a specific task or area, but in general we work with Dr. GK on program communication and cultivating community.
WHAT WE DO:
- Anum- IEDP Twitter, Facebook, and General Communication
- Hannah- IEDP Instagram and Blog
- Laura- Monthly Newsletter Editor and Weekly Events Newsletter Co-Editor
- Meilin- Events and Community Service
- Risa- Photographer and Videographer
- SoYeong- Equity and Access, CIES
- Ale(Me)- Alumni Relations and Weekly Events Newsletter Co-Editor:
- Alumni Relations= Keep in touch with IEDP Alumni, interview alumni for the Newsletter, and help plan Alumni Day.
- Weekly Events Newsletter Co-Editor= Every Sunday, Laura and I send out a list of campus events. There is SO MUCH happening, and it gets overwhelming, so we make it easy by combining academic events, fun events, and random free Philly events into one magical email.
- General Undefined Things: Set up for speaker and program events, editing and creating resource guides, prospective student outreach, hosting and cooking for cohort events
HOW I GOT THE GIG:
Last year, around April or May, Lauren emailed the cohort the GA job listing. I applied right away and a couple weeks later Dr. GK asked for my availability for an interview. We Skyped and I talked about my experience event planning, managing blogs and social media, and general communication. I was very honest about what I was comfortable and not comfortable doing, and how I worked best (I like team dynamics, but need to work alone on creative tasks). A week later I got the job! EXCITING.
HOW DEMANDING IS IT?
Being that we are a team, it is a bit demanding but also very flexible. I email, research, and write as a break from academics! It is so NICE. I usually work on the 4th floor of GSE, but with the weather getting better I have started camping out in sunny spaces around campus. In general, the workload is what we make it be. For example, if we have an idea for an event, then we ‘created’ an opportunity to make hours for ourselves in planning the event.
Weekly hours are sporadic for me; some weeks are 1-3 hours, others are 5-8. This is part of my work study so there is a cap on how much I can make a year, but this job is open to non-work study too. It is also one of my two jobs on campus (I am a Family Center Fellow with Hannah), so I have to make sure not to go over 20 hours total with both jobs a week (I have yet to go over 17). Other GAs have different task demands so they come by hours differently. For example, the blog and instagram are more day to day demanding while photography and videography are when IEDP events occur.
IS IT USEFUL?
Honestly, this job does not directly translate to what I want to do after IEDP, but it is a great way to work on my soft skills and give back to my cohort! Even if I were not a GA, I would still be planning events for the cohort or doing outreach to prospective students. I genuinely LOVE knowing what is happening on campus and finding resources to better our Penn experience. I also really love LOVE working with my friends! Gosh, I know that sounds cheesy but honestly, this GA group has been a great sounding board for event ideas, program support ideas, and general life advice.
If I didn’t have work study as part of my financial aid package, I would still apply and work as a GA; it connects me to the program in a way that suits my previous work experience and personality. If I were to start this program with a bit more money (instead of blowing my summer job savings on concerts and trips…oops? #sorrynotsorry), I would only work as a GA and not as a Family Fellow. As much as I like that position, sometimes the two positions can get overwhelming and I sacrifice cool campus events to catch up on work. (I also volunteer 5-8 hours a week in West Philly as part of my Coverdell Fellowship, so time management between all three positions is can be exhausting!)
The only downsides to this position would be that sometimes we have ‘slow’ weeks with not enough tasks for work hours and a limited budget to plan events. If you cannot handle working in a team dynamic, prefer structured work hours, or are not a creative ‘self-starter’, then this job is not for you. If you play nice working with others, can handle emails and group texts among school work, and always have ideas for events or projects centered on cohort community, then I hope you apply!!
UNSOLICITED ADVICE, BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU:
My Tips for On Campus Work:
- Be honest with YOURSELF with how you handle stress and working with others. No matter how much you make, you will HATE a job if it isn’t using the ‘best you’ you have to offer.
- Lauren does a great job in sharing job postings, but take initiative; Penn is very ‘decentralized’ when it comes to sharing information. There are postings throughout the summer into the school year, both on and off campus.
- Remember you are here for a purpose; find a position that will add to your resume but not overwhelm your workload. Sometimes that isn’t possible (i.e., me), but then your work becomes a happy break from academia without taking you out of that mindset completely.
- Time management is KEY. Color coordinate your calendar, communicate with friends and family when you are available and when you need to hide away and work, and remember to schedule meals! Hangry work is not your best work, trust me.
- Volunteer opportunities as just as valuable as work experience. If you have the means, consider adding to your resume by volunteering either through the Netter Center on campus, or through your own in West or South Philly. It keeps you grounded, makes use of your writing, language, or other skills in a practical way, and might even influence your coursework!
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