Working in the Interim
Working in an interim position is weird and a lot of work. I have all of the responsibilities of the job I was hired to do, plus I have these new responsibilities, meetings, and connections that I didn’t know I would have. I also find myself cleaning up a lot of messes or reworking a lot of standard operating procedures. Life in the interim (or double interim in my case) is definitely an exhausting (PSA- I am NOT glorifying how busy I am) and yet excellent way to test the skills that other jobs have prepared me to do. I’ve come up with some interesting observations since I’ve held my one interim position for 10 months and counting and my other interim position for 3 months and counting.
The Interim is Indefinite
When I took on my one interim role back in March 2015, I thought, oh I will only be seeing this through until we hire someone for a July 1 start date. Clearly, I was wrong. The interim period only has an expiration date of “until someone is hired”. This was a struggle for me in the beginning because I was unsure of how much time and energy I should invest in this one interim position, while still doing the job I was hired to do. Well, after coming to the realization that my unit was not going to be hiring anyone for the foreseeable future, I needed to allocate 100% of my time and energy in this interim role. I did my research and used my transferable skills to manage how I would go about managing and completing the responsibilities that went along with this position.
I Learned to Manage Up
Working with my direct supervisor, we came up with a plan to keep me from becoming too burned out while working multiple positions. Luckily, she was very receptive to my concerns and suggestions and, in the end, we ended up setting up a realistic workload for the both of us. The key for me was all about the communication. My supervisor and I really worked on effectively communicating with each other, especially when it came to working with competing priorities. Luckily, I’ve been doing the job I was hired to do for a few years, so while there was the occasional surprise, I knew when our “higher than normal” volume of will happen.
If you’re unsure of what managing up really means, here’s a really great article: 6 Tips for Managing Up and What That Even Means
I Took the Opportunity to Learn New Things
I had to dust off my old Hall Director and graduate assistant hats for my two interim positions. There were so many transferable skills from those two positions I was able to leverage into my two interim positions. The cool part – I was able to expand on those two experiences, plus my current role, to really make an impact while in the interim. I have also had the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills and have had many new experiences. I was able to learn about different processes, build new relationships with constituents, and work on a (possible) restructure of an organization with the support and assistance of student leaders.
My Relationships With My Colleagues Are Even Better
I was put in charge of overseeing a residence center on campus, which is something I haven’t been involved with since my days as a Hall Director (circa 2013). I lucked out with the staff who ran this residence center, as they ran it like a well-oiled machine, and in my unbiased opinion, are one of the best staffs on this campus. I was already familiar with the residence center, as it was home to 2 Living-Learning Centers that I was working with for 2+ years. I already had a positive rapport with the professional staff in that center, and so working with them was an easy transition. It was really important for me to learn more about their daily operations, have one on one conversations, be visible and present, and go to bat for them when I knew they needed the extra support. Across the board, this interim position helped me and my colleagues build a better working relationship than we had before. While I had a vague understanding of the scope of their responsibilities, I learned a lot of new things about their positions and about each individual leadership team member.
I used to think I had fairly good time management skills. Now I know I have really good time management skills. With a slew of things on my calendar, it was important for me to figure out priorities, but to also keep up with the not-so-urgent things. Once I was able to figure out how to manage my time, it was a lot easier for me to work on multiple projects and for me not to become burned out on work. While I could only prepare for so much, I was able to handle those unexpected moments and issues that only seem to arise at the worst times (4:59PM on a Friday).
While at first it was daunting to hold down three different roles and responsibilities, I really took a step back to figure out how this was going to work for me. While it is a lot of work, I find that these different experiences have made me a better professional and have really opened my eyes to some new experiences.