Closing off the 6th week of my working at UCLA and diving into one of the busiest (if not the busiest) time of the year, I am making a return from my blogging hiatus. In just the short month and a half that I’ve been here, one word to describe this these past six weeks is NEW. So let’s break it down. Here’s what the first six weeks have been like.
Tangent: It’s kind of amusing that I’m writing about the first six weeks because our RAs have a booklet that’s about their engagement of the first six weeks with their residents.
Week 1: The Beginning
Day 1: The first week was really all about being new and being introduced to a new environment. It began with HR and payroll – and still not properly understanding how to fill out a W-2 form (because this isn’t what they teach you in college).
Day 2: The newbies were taken on a campus tour and I got myself hitched with a Bruin card. At this point and time, it broke my heart a little bit that I was carrying around a card that said “UCLA” with Royce Hall in the background rather than the lovely Peter the Anteater statue I’ve held on to for the past 4 years of my life. The second day couldn’t end peacefully — the new staff was bombarded with our To-Do list for the next two months. It was a scary, overwhelming list. At the time, I was freaked out by it but eventually it calmed. The coolest part of this second day… I got myself a work phone, a UCLA email, and my computer was ready for my access.
Day 3: I learned about the 17 buildings on The Hill and what made them different. Did I understand it then? Nope. However, I’m getting to slowly figure things out and learn more and more, little by little. My boss was out during this week, so I got a chance to hang out and talk to my boss’s boss — who was also one of the people that were in my interview when I was first applying for my position now. We definitely got carried away talking about ResLife, and there’s still so much to talk about too. Guess that’s what the year is for.
Day 4: Our first day of the week that didn’t have Fall Training, so naturally I’m hanging out in the office. The afternoon, however, consisted of my new discovery of a possible food place addiction: TLT Food. Thanks to my buddy… my tummy was quite happy that day. It was also joined by boba — and that was probably one of my favorite parts.
Day 5: Josh O’Connor. That’s a name I’m going to remember for a long time in a my life. This is the first day I meet this man and he’s leading our morning training session. Now, we all know I am not a morning person so I’m just adjusting to this 10am start of my work day. So all the newbies are sitting there waiting and he’s just about 5 minutes late (he’s a busy man). He speed walks/semi-runs into the room and with the loudest voice I’ve ever heard in an indoor room of about 15 people, he’s yelling “I know, I know! I’m sorry I’m late, but I have gifts!” From that very moment, I had been inspired: this is the kind of energy and positivity I want to project when I walk into a room. His presence is one of the most vibrant and enthusiastic; that’s just a little bit of what I really want.
Week 2: The Serious Stuff
Day 6: No better way to start the second week than a 3-hour training session on Conduct (sarcasm). As serious and as tough as occurrences that involve conduct are, sitting there for 3 hours learning about the philosophy of conduct and understanding Incident Reports led by the Conduct Unit was quite the entertainment.
Day 7: Do you know how many websites there are to navigate around at UCLA? A LOT. How many of them do I understand how to use? A LITTLE. I’m slowly getting there.
DAY 8: This day had two levels to it. The morning started with so much… seriousness. I mean if you’re discussing Title IX, it’s gotta be serious. Being ProStaff means that we’re being thrown into more serious situations and requires more of our job. Thankfully, the day ended with StrengthsQuest — and it’s always fun to learn about your top strengths and how they’ve changed over time (if it’s something you’ve taken multiple times — like I have).
Day 9: The serious stuff keeps coming! This time… we’re talking QPR. Now, to keep from this post becoming too serious, we’ll jump over to the other thing from this day: I found a fellow Anteater (who was one of the presenters). In a pool full of Bruins, to find an Anteater Alumni was super cool so there was me jumping out of my seat at 10am going “Zot! Not!”
Day 10: A day free from training? Well, this is new.
Week 3: Team Training and Development
Day 11: Today was basically a pARDy. ProStaff was welcomed to the department and there was sugar involved. At night, the ARDs had tacos and enjoyed ourselves to a fun game.
Day 12: I thought Student Staff Training at UCI was a lot. Then they went over the training calendar for their Student Staff here, and it’s wild. There’s a lot happening in a timeline of less than 2 weeks. As intense and overwhelming as that schedule was, the day concluded with getting to be a part of a video (that’s going to be shown during training) and leaving for UCSD.
Day 13-15: UCLA ProStaff is spending 3 days at UCSD for Team Training and Development (basically a retreat) and it involved a lot of fun, and a little bit of work. Here’s what it is: team building activities, bonding, learning, and the after-pARDy. 😉
…basically, this was the easiest week.
Week 4: Confusion
Day 16: One of the worst parts about going through college for 4 years then jumping into adulting is a challenge. In this case… selecting between medical benefits, retirement options, legal aid, life insurance. It’s a lot. Why isn’t there a required “Life Skills” class before you have to graduate? The second half, however, was fun. My RD and I got carried away in understanding each other rather than handling the business aspect of our relationship.
Day 17: I got lost going to a training session in the morning (causing me to be late), followed by diving into how to hold the students I supervise accountable. Now isn’t that a cool conversation. Oh! This cool thing I got to do in the afternoon, duty training using ESCAPE ROOM style training! If that isn’t a creative training, I don’t know what is.
Day 18: Another conduct meeting means another opportunity to understand this whole conduct aspect of the job. If there’s one thing I take away from this training, it’s that this school is one for it’s very busy and active experiences.
Day 19: Behind Closed Doors. A stimulation of situations we may experience and we are placed in a scene where we handle it because that’s what our job has us doing.
Day 20: Council is different here that the council I knew in Irvine. I had to learn about supervising them and it was pretty cool to discover the differences. The best part of this day was actually a visit from my high school principal. A man I had not seen in four years and he came to visit me. This is one of the best examples I have to the value of mentorships.
Week 5: The Week of Late-Nights
Day 21: A solar eclipse happened today. My mom called me and told me not to look at the sun. On a different note, I learned about how I can develop professionally as an individual — and there are quite a number of ways. If there’s one thing out of anything that I appreciate about this department is how much they care about you developing and learning more. The best way to end a day, however, is by having food that is unhealthy but so good anyway (Chick-Fil-A and boba).
Day 22: There’s a lot that goes into programming supplies or set up or whatever else there is — or just events in general. Our Program Events and Management team is who makes is possible and I was handed a checklist of how I can get a program to be successful. But first… I have to learn to navigate around it.
Day 23: Talking about Student Identity Development theories and Campus Climate Issues is a lot… soooooooo I’m going to go ahead and skip this day from the gory details of my emotions towards it.
Day 24: Engagement Day. Day 2 of training is Engagement Day and I’m diving into it by giving a presentation. The presentation holds 3 videos, two of which contains me. I thought I’d only have to see it once. As it turns out, I’ll be seeing those videos (containing me) again. The other half of this day, I got to meet my building’s Faculty-In-Residence (FIR) and he is one cool man. The idea of an FIR alone is already cool, but he’s just so straightforward and I’m quite excited to meet him.
Day 25: Welcome Week… also known as “True Bruin Welcome.” Looking at all the events happening during this week, I sometimes wonder how I made it through all of those when I was in my undergrad career, cause UCI was also popping when it came to our Welcome Week. It’s a wild week. Catch it on http://www.truebruinwelcome.ucla.edu/. The afternoon was filled with me being excited to program large-scale once again. Of course, I am always excited to tackle decorations and marketing. Best believe I was jumping with excitement.
Week 6: Preparations
Day 26: The first day in a few weeks that we had the day to ourselves and work from the office. I felt so productive and got so much done just working from the office. It was a good feel for what the year was going to feel like. Although I don’t understand what Fantasy Football is, I was hanging out at another ProStaff’s apartment — with a bunch of other ProStaff — eating tacos and CREPES. Yes, worth.
Day 27: Get you a job where you’re paid to paint. Also, buying snacks for the team was probably the highlight of the day just cause surprising the team is always fun. Oh, my RD bought me boba.
Day 28: Today was the last day of ProStaff training. Technically, it was yesterday. However, we still had a thing in our schedule, but it was called “Staff Play Day.” I got myself a new plant (that I left in the office) from this fun morning.
Day 29: My Engagement Model was finally complete. The RA Training Manuals were ready to go. Bags were stuffed with snacks and a new shirt. Basically, we were ready for our RAs and RGCs to move in for student staff training. To celebrate the end of training, some of my fellow ARDs and I went out to eat and drink (and go to Target and explode kittens — and FYI: the game, exploding kittens). What a great day/night.
Day 30: Dividers for binders came in late, so that was added. Then we got to put up their training door decs and put their bags in their training rooms. We ran out of staples and our backup stapler was broken, so my RD was hitting the stapler on the floor and it was all amusing. I went around my building for the second time to learn it and get used to knowing the things around the community. Oh, and an Office Assistant (for the summer) who will be a returning RA walked around with me and labeled the bulletin boards. Oh, and this is the first day since we came back from UCSD that I left the office before the sun was down. Talk about a busy schedule.
With all of the things happening, I won’t deny that there is stress and overwhelming feelings mixed with nervousness and anxiety happening. However, if there’s one thing I’ve always loved about myself, it’s that I have enormous levels of excitement, enthusiasm, and positivity to carry with me throughout the next month of training, residents moving in, Welcome Week, training (again), and whatever else I missed. Through all of this, I’m extremely grateful for the department being just like what I knew ResLife is… a family full of support. From my RD to the rest of the RDs and ARDs in Sunset Village to the rest of us on The Hill, everyone has been nothing but amazing. Whether it be hanging out for fun or going out to different food and drink places, I’ve gained a new family while still having my UCI families behind me. One of these days, I’ll get to tell you my adventures with them and tell you about just how amazing they all are.
The adventure has only begun and I always remember my why: to serve and support, to cultivate an environment of safe spaces, and ultimately create a place where everyone feels their uniqueness is valued. I guess the start of adulthood isn’t too bad. The best part of it all is being NEW.
Till the next write,
ARD Jamrensze “J-Mi” De Leon