Woah, it’s been a month since I started my research fellowship. Let’s recap, shall we?
First, let me just say that it took me a week or two to get a feel for my position––I started by setting some goals for myself and meeting with Drs. Krissy and Michael Lukens, the professors I’m working under, to make a plan of action. I was surprised that Krissy wanted me to set my own goals for my fellowship, and that they didn’t necessarily have to be “work-related.” I haven’t had a self-directed job like this before, and all my work goals in the past have largely been mandated by my supervisors. Once I started thinking about what I wanted to get out of my position as a research fellow, I realized I already had some goals in mind. Here are the four I came up with:
Goal 1: I want to learn to use new software and technology.
I’ve at least touched on all these goals so far, although the level of success I’ve had working toward them has varied. Learning to use Adobe Acrobat has been challenging, but I’ve been able to figure out how to accomplish the tasks I need to.
Goal 2: I want to enjoy my work and build relationships with my coworkers.
I rarely struggle to cooperate and befriend my coworkers, and my experience has been no different in this position. I’ve found that I really enjoy doing my work at SNC’s Tech Bar in the IT department––that’s one of the places where I’ve found the widest variety of people and where I’ve had some of my most fun and interesting discussions (for example, what’s the scientific explanation for why many guys eat and chew so incredibly loudly?).
Goal 3: I want to engage with the material I’m working with and learn more about history, geography, design, and Bonhoeffer’s work and theology.
Working toward this goal has been somewhat unavoidable: in order for my project to be as successful as possible, I need to know its subject matter inside and out. That way, I can explain it clearly even to people who know nothing about it. I’ve been reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (informative, but unfortunately very dry), and I’m planning to watch a documentary on him over the coming Long Weekend.
Goal 4: I want to practice managing my own time––Right now, I’m considering self-employment as a web and graphic designer after I graduate, and this will help me get a feel for my ability to balance my work with the rest of my life.
This is the goal I’ve been struggling with the most, although by no means am I completely failing to manage my time. Again, I haven’t had a self-directed job quite like this one before, so I’m still learning to discipline myself and actually, y’know, do my job when there’s no one around to force me to. I’m also still working on balancing work with school, and this job makes that task more difficult than it’s been in the past: because it’s so academic in nature, it feels a lot like I’m never not doing schoolwork (an exhausting and disheartening feeling). On that note, Google Calendar has been incredibly helpful by letting me visualize my schedule and see where I have the most free time. Although it can’t change the feeling of never-ending academia, it helps me to be able to schedule in study breaks where I take time to do or think about something else for a while.
I’ll continue scheduling “work hours” for myself, and I might try finding an “office space” on campus where I can go to do my work (I read once that our brains associate locations with activities, so maybe this’ll help me buckle down better). I want to build up to consistently working 7 hours per week, and later 8 to 10 hours per week.
I realize that I’ve gotten a little long-winded (not unusual for me), and I should probably let you go now.
Thanks for reading, friends, and cheers to the beginning of October!