Author Archives: Anna Bentley

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Facilitating Conversations about Boundaries in the Workplace

by Anna Bentley

In my role in the Office of Academic Support, I supervise the ASC Strategists and work with a team of pro staff to deliver weekly professional development meetings to our Academic Coaches, Strategists, and Outreach Specialists, who are student employees. When I talked to my colleagues and student employees about the areas in which they wanted to grow professionally, many of their ideas essentially involved developing skills to better communicate boundaries with students who use our services, their colleagues, and their supervisor.

I came across an awesome book, Unf*ck Your Boundaries: Build Better Relationships Through Consent, Communication, and Expressing Your Needs by Dr. Faith G. Harper and was immediately inspired to design professional development meetings around the concepts and strategies in this book. Having clear boundaries in the workplace can give everyone a better experience working together by clarifying our responsibilities and scope of our work, increasing self-awareness, helping prevent burnout, cultivating relationships and mutual respect, repairing relationships after rupture, and more.

I designed two meetings for our student staff. The first centered around defining boundaries where we discussed what boundaries are, the types of boundaries, how boundaries are defined, and an invitation to reflect on what we want instead of what we don’t want. The second meeting focused on communicating boundaries, including communication styles, how to express what we want, and communicating through conflict. In both meetings, there were opportunities for individual reflection, small group conversation, and group sharing so participants could learn from each other.

After all of our weekly meetings, we collect evaluation forms to get a sense of what our student employees thought of the topic and activities. When asked “What information and/or strategies from today’s meeting will you use in your role?”, half of the participants said they will use the BIFF method (brief, informative, friendly, and firm) and avoid the 3 A’s (advice, admonishments, apologies) when they are trying to communicate through conflict. Several participants also mentioned how they appreciated example language for communicating clear boundaries. In a separate post-term survey, most participants listed one or both of the meetings about boundaries as one of their top 3 meetings of the term.

If any of this sparks your interest, I’m sharing both agendas with you in case you want to check them out and adapt them for your own teams. Or maybe you are curious and want to look at the prompts for your own personal and professional development. All the concepts and many of the prompts are taken directly from the book I’ve linked above, which also has an accompanying workbook. I hope you enjoy! And if you have any feedback or want to chat more about this topic, I’d love to hear from you at

Absolutely Amateur: A Conversation between Anna & Sarah

by Anna Bentley & Sarah Norek

In this conversation, you’ll hear Anna and Sarah discuss what it’s been like to be in learning environments for topics and skills unrelated to their OAS and ASC work, and teasing out how the experience and what they’ve been noticing about themselves in these spaces and this learning undeniably informs their work OAS and ASC work.  

We (Anna and Sarah) decided to try recording our conversation, rather than writing about it. If you prefer to read the transcript, that’s available too, or if you want to speed it all up, you should be able to change your playback settings. In this conversation, we didn’t get into how our learning experiences feel different from something like professional development, but it’s something we started talking about afterwards too (spoiler: we think it’s related to the fact that we’re in low-stakes, ungraded environments and we’re not responsible to bring the learning back or apply it to our roles, it just ends up that we do and we can, still).

Let us know what you think of this format or any questions/things you’re thinking about related to this topic! And thanks for listening 😊.

Five-Minute Feedback: Creating a Tool and Ritual for Meeting Evaluations

by Anna Bentley

Have you ever facilitated a meeting or taught a class that left you wondering, “Were they actually interested in this topic, or were they secretly bored out of their minds? Did I make any sense at all? Did they get anything out of that? Did I make everyone feel included?” Sometimes it feels impossible to read the room, and in those moments, I doubt my facilitation skills. And when you’re not sure what topics and facilitation moves are exciting for folks and which are dreadful, it’s hard to know how to adapt your next meeting to better suit their needs.

Last year was my first year supervising a small group of student employees and facilitating their weekly professional development meetings. Sometimes I’d ask student employees individually what they thought of the meeting afterwards, but I feared they were just being polite and giving me praise, being put on the spot like that. I mean, it’s hard to tell your supervisor, “Yeah, that meeting totally sucked. Your prompts made no sense, and you were way off your game. What were you thinking?!”

Tired of guessing how things landed for them, I knew I needed a system for feedback, but I wanted something that would capture everyone’s thoughts and would also be a tool for them to continue to engage with what they just learned. What I created was an anonymous paper evaluation form that both captured their thoughts and gave them a brief moment to connect what they just learned to their role. I chose a paper form intentionally, as folks integrate connections and meaning differently through writing compared to typing. I designed the form to be simple yet have lots of opportunity for optional open-ended feedback. I set aside the last five minutes of every meeting for everyone to complete this form at once, and it became a sort of ritual, something that they expected to fill out every week. As the weeks went on, I noticed they were giving more detailed responses to the open-ended questions, perhaps because they knew there was time set aside, and their peers were all doing this at the same time too.

By gathering feedback in this way, I’ve learned so much about myself as a facilitator and have made many small but reportedly impactful changes to the way I design and deliver content. For instance, I received feedback very quickly that our training agenda handouts were long and overwhelming. My colleague and I abbreviated the agenda the following week and heard that it was much more digestible. Some folks also commented that they wanted more time for group discussion after small group activities, as the time I was setting aside always seemed to get cut short. I made thoughtful adjustments and set more rigid time boundaries to honor the group discussions, and that led to much richer, meaningful closing conversations.

I’d love to share this evaluation form with you in case you’re curious about implementing something similar with your students or colleagues. Now I distribute this after every meeting I facilitate, including training sessions for new student employees and team meetings I facilitate with my pro staff colleagues. Two of my favorite items in the evaluation form that participants rate and comment on are (1) “The facilitator(s) cared about what I had to say” and (2) “I felt like I could be myself in today’s meeting.” These align with the values I prioritize as a supervisor of students. As my values and objectives evolve over time, this form will too. I hope this inspires you to adapt or develop a feedback tool that works for your values and needs!

Reflection Practice #countsaswork

by Anna Bentley

One of the most important meetings I have at work is one you might not expect. Since July 2021, the professional staff in the Academic Success Center & Writing Center have established a practice of synchronous, individual reflection and writing time, which is scheduled every other week for one hour. Originally, this began as a way to think about our work in a different way and potentially find threads of interest for content for The Success Kitchen, though there has never been any obligation to produce anything. This is a completely voluntary space where folks are free to reflect and write about whatever they choose.

Here’s how it works. First, we check in with each other briefly, and then we leave the meeting to reflect and write for 40 minutes. There are prompts to guide us if we want to use them, but we are free to write about anything we choose. After 40 minutes, we rejoin the meeting and take turns sharing as much or as little as we want about what we wrote.

Example prompts:

  1. What is something a student has said or shared recently that you’d like to think more about or reflect on?
  2. Talk about a recent leadership experience that’s on your mind. What was meaningful to you about that experience? If there were any challenges, how did you work through them?
  3. What’s a favorite memory from your own learning experiences (in any context)? What made that experience valuable and important to you?

Through writing and reflection, we make space to generate ideas and insights, process experiences and emotions, deepen our awareness and understanding, make meaning and connections, feed creative energy, and develop our writing skills. I certainly have benefited from our collective reflection time. Before this, I had never had a writing practice, and I used to feel intimidated by a blank page. Now I find joy in writing freely and have grown more confident in my writing skills. I’ve used the time to write about work, draft articles like this for The Success Kitchen, journal and process emotions, make goals and lists, and even write poetry and fiction.

It’s been a gift to explore many facets of writing without any obligation to produce or perform, and it’s positively impacted the way I work. A few months ago, I began supervising a team of student staff after going many years without supervising anyone. I’ve used our reflection practice to unpack and discover my values around how I show up as a supervisor, a colleague, a parent, and a friend. Having the time to intentionally articulate who I want to be has made a difference in my relationships and my journey as a supervisor.

Beyond the practice of writing, what has made our reflection practice particularly powerful is what we get out of sharing with each other. Any of us could write on our own, but doing this together and sharing allows us to make connections and offer support to each other. Listening to my colleagues’ reflections inspires me and leads us to exploring ideas we otherwise may not have considered. We sometimes find, coincidentally, that our reflections are related, and we generate new ideas by hearing each other’s perspectives. Sometimes we share the emotions and challenges we’re experiencing, and our colleagues support us through that. Perhaps that is what I love the most about reflection and sharing – that it can be whatever kind of space you want or need it to be in that moment, and we’re able to connect on a different level than we can in other spaces.

As a unit, we find meaning in processing what we’re experiencing, articulating our ideas, sharing with each other, validating what each of us brings to the table, and supporting each other as whole people. To make this a reality, we put this on our calendars and count this as work. I’m energized by this practice, excited to see what’s possible, and curious to hear what beautiful, powerful ideas others have within them.

Increasing Motivation through Behavioral Activation

by Anna Bentley

Behavioral activation is a common approach to treating depression that involves improving mood by engaging in pleasurable or rewarding activities. These behaviors disrupt the cycle of inactivity that fuels and prolongs depression. Behavioral activation strategies can vary for everyone, but may include things like writing in a journal, going out for coffee, hiking, or watching a movie with a friend.

You don’t need to be experiencing depression to benefit from behavioral activation. The same strategies that improve our mood also help prevent burnout and increase productivity at work or school when we’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unmotivated. Here are the steps to practice this approach:

  1. Identify activities that bring you pleasure. There are several activity lists online that can be used for inspiration, or you can make your own list from scratch. If using a pre-made list, start by highlighting the activities you really enjoy and that reliably bring you pleasure. Cross off the things that aren’t for you.
  2. Rate the activities you identified by how easy they are to complete and how rewarding they are. This worksheet can help you complete this. For me, I found that sitting down for a fresh cup of coffee is very easy for me to complete but has short-lived rewards, while going on a long hike is highly rewarding yet more difficult to complete.
  3. Schedule activities that will give you positive experiences in your day. Here’s another tool you can use to schedule these activities, or you can use our weekly calendar. Start with simple activities that are easiest to integrate into your day, and build from there. You might start by just adding one rewarding activity in the morning, building that routine, and then adding more activities over time.

A core principle behind why behavioral activation works is that action often precedes emotion. Sometimes at work or at school, we want to wait until we’re motivated before we start a project. However, the action of engaging in a rewarding activity can give us the energy we need to fuel our work. Maybe you’ve had an experience where you found yourself more vibrant and energized once you got going on a project, even though you were initially reluctant to start.

Next time you notice a lack of motivation or the temptation to procrastinate, I invite you to consider how you can bring pleasure into the experience. Here are a few rewarding activities that I sometimes schedule into my day while I’m working on campus:

  • Start the day with a fresh cup of coffee, and take a minute to really savor it before starting my work.
  • Write down my intention for the day as soon as I get into the office.
  • Listen to a special Spotify playlist whenever I’m completing a repetitive task.
  • Have walking meetings with my colleagues when possible.
  • Go on a short walk around campus during my lunch break. Sometimes I like to visit a building I’ve never been inside before, or I like to take pictures of beautiful things I discover on campus, like trees, flowers, and artwork.
  • Send an email to campus partners I haven’t spoken with for a while, just to say hello.
  • Doodle in my notebook between back-to-back meetings for a quick mental reset.

Intentionally integrating these pleasurable and rewarding activities into my day gives me the boost of energy I need when I’m feeling unmotivated. What activities bring you energy, help clear your mind, or inspire inspiration? What would it look like to schedule those activities into your work? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Staff Picks: Readings & Resources That Have Shaped Our Views on Equity

by Anna Bentley

As we shared in a fall 2021 article, our team is committed to finding ways to engage with the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Priority. Over the past year, we have explored how equity intersects with a variety of topics: neurodiversity; leadership practices; decision-making; the concept of merit; recruitment and hiring; and research, literature, and theory. Below, you’ll find a collection of readings and resources that particularly resonated with Academic Success Center & Writing Center staff.

Anika Lautenbach

I was struck by “How to be an Antiracist Supervisor: Start with Changing What you Call Yourself” by Kim-Monique Johnson and how much is wrapped up in the language we use. While I haven’t identified a new title for myself yet, this reading helped me intentionally reflect on some of my leadership practices and think about how I could work toward a healthier work culture. This article is a good introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of our workforce, rethink power structures, and move toward centering the well-being of employees.

Kelley Calvert

For our Strategic Priority conversations on neurodiversity, I particularly enjoyed the reading “Just a Unicorn” from The Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (Valley Library; OU Libraries Open Access). Featuring poems written by neurodiverse individuals, the reading enabled me to better understand their experiences through the use of simile and metaphor. I also appreciated how the poems dealt with the intersectionality of neurodiversity and other aspects of identity like race, gender, and immigration status. I would recommend this short, easy-to-read, open-access poetry collection to anyone interested in immersing themselves in the sensory and emotional world of neurodiverse individuals, if only for a few brief moments.

Anna Bentley

Before reading The Equity-Centered Community Design Field Guide by Creative Reaction Lab, I didn’t see myself as someone with the power to enact change, so I had never taken responsibility for how I unwittingly upheld systems. Having worked in a variety of administrative support roles, I saw my supervisors and higher ups as the ones with all the power making all the decisions, not me. This field guide taught me that we are all designers because we are constantly making decisions, big and small, that impact others. I especially appreciate the example scenarios and sample activities that illustrate how we can work together to create more equitable systems.

Marjorie Coffey

A reading that resonated for me was the Equity-Minded Decision-Making Guide from Achieving the Dream. We engaged with the guide during exploration of work culture and decision-making. This guide was a helpful starting point for considering context within a decision, as well as how equity relates to that context. The guide also offers questions for evaluating options when making a decision and strategies for engaging others in the decision-making. As I worked to intentionally develop my approach to decision-making, the guide helped me plan for how I could prioritize equity both in the decision itself and in the process of arriving at the decision.

Carl Conner

One of the most meaningful readings I was able to engage with this past term was “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement” by Shawn Ginwright, Ph.D. I really appreciated that Ginwright was able to address the nuanced nature of collective trauma and marginalized identity, while also suggesting many concrete strategies for how to empower people at the individual and community levels. Engaging with imaginative, empathetic, and community-based practices were all helpful reminders as we work to address collective trauma.

Chris Gasser

A reading that stands out for me is “Dis/ability Critical Race Studies (Discrit): Theorizing at the Intersections of Race and Dis/ability” by Subini Ancy Annamma, David Connor, and Beth Ferri (Valley Library; Research Gate).  As we have spent the last few years thinking about the ways that we can better support students, I find myself often thinking about the way the term “normal” has been defined, for me, by my body and the privileges I have.  The tenets of DisCrit, as laid out in the article, have been invaluable in conversations on merit, supporting underrepresented students, designing spaces to be inclusive, and many other places.

Clare Creighton

I enjoyed exploring Critical Supervision for the Human Services (Noble, Gray, Johnston), in particular, Chapter 8: Practice Fundamentals (Valley Library; Publisher). There is a lot of emphasis in this text on the relationship between a supervisor and the person they supervise – the structure in which they interact, the dynamic of their interactions, and the degree to which those elements are discussed intentionally. I found it helpful to see some of the recommended conversations and topics for discussion, and appreciated the invitation to manage my own schedule in a way that creates more time for relationship development.

Sarah Norek

Much of my supervision/leadership experience has been informed by my experience of being supervised/led. And there’s much to take away from those experiences! At the same time, it’s been so helpful these last months to draw strategies and approaches from readings and conversations to practice in my work and learning around supporting others. Ultimately, it was the many different readings and how they talked to each other and to me that has felt most helpful, but two that stand out are chapter 5 of Mutual Aid by Dean Spade (Valley Library; Publisher) and The Future of Healing, by Dr. Shawn Ginwright. These have emphasized for me the value of relationship building, its continual process and how much it can benefit from intentionality.

Chris Ervin

One of our Strategic Priority projects focused on how we recruit and hire student staff, a process highly influenced by OSU’s Search Advocate program. During our Strategic Priority work, we engaged in learning activities around equity in recruitment and hiring of student staff, then examined our own practices to determine where we are enacting our values around equity and inclusion and where we could do a better job. For me personally, this learning process encouraged me to think carefully about students’ entry points to our Writing Center’s consultant positions, about who sees themselves as potential writing consultants, who we’re inviting to apply, how we’re engaging in the interview process, who we’re selecting for next stages of the hiring process, and so on. The learning process tested twenty years’ worth of assumptions I held about how best to recruit and hire peer writing consultants.

Creating Environments for Well-Being in the Midst of COVID-19

by Anna Bentley

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been so much individual and collective loss. In one way or another, all of us have grieved or are still grieving the loss of something — from loved ones, to the sudden disruptions in school and work, to the plans we had for our lives that didn’t include a pandemic. Perhaps all of us hoped early on that we would “defeat” COVID or “get back to normal,” but now we’re realizing we’re going to have to adapt to a new kind of future. How do we move forward while also acknowledging each other’s grief and loss?

When thinking of this question, I’m inspired by Dr. Shawn Ginwright’s The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement. How can we create environments for well-being in our communities and in our work here at OSU in the midst of COVID-19, the climate crisis, racial injustice, and our personal hardships? Here are a few insights inspired by Ginwright’s piece and my own lived experience that help me reconcile how I can look forward to the future without glossing over the very real suffering that so many of us are experiencing.

  1. We can experience grief and joy at the same time. Human beings are complex, and we’re capable of experiencing hope, joy, inspiration, and fulfillment in the midst of great loss. We don’t need to ignore or forget about our grief in order to experience joy. In the Academic Success Center & Writing Center, one way we’ve made space for this at work is by having multiple intentional conversations about how we’re feeling with the return to campus. I think we all have felt some combination of excitement, nervousness, and confusion about in-person activities at OSU. For me, talking about this openly validated my feelings, helped me process some of my grief, and made room for me to enjoy working on campus again.
  1. Individual and collective healing are interconnected. We can’t create and sustain environments for well-being when we’re consistently overwhelmed, burned out, and not present. We have to do our own inner work to process our emotions and experiences so that we can support our students, work to dismantle oppressive systems, and create environments for well-being. Just like our individual well-being impacts the spaces and communities of which we’re a part, the well-being of our community can create space for our individual healing. I think about what that looks like for me in the context of OSU. How does the way I show up to work impact the well-being of my colleagues, campus partners, and the spaces I occupy? Where are the groups and spaces on campus where I feel safe and reenergized and that promote my healing? In what ways can our department expand how we support students’ well-being and create spaces where everyone feels safe, celebrated, and empowered and knows that they belong?
  1. Designing inclusive environments for well-being requires collaboration. If we’re going to create environments for well-being where everyone belongs and feels safe, we need to work together, and we’ll need everyone’s hopes, dreams, ideas, and imagination. In order to do that well, we need to practice collaboration on a regular basis so we can further develop those skills. We collaborate frequently in the ASC & Writing Center, from engaging with the Student Affairs Priority to writing blog posts like this one. For this blog, collaboration looks like meeting as a team to discuss ideas for topics, deciding together who will be writing and who will be a “writing buddy,” and meeting with our writing buddies to gather feedback on drafts. Collaboration is a practice that requires learning and unlearning, humility, confidence to share our voice, openness to listening and receiving, and a willingness to redistribute power. Collaborating daily on different projects, big and small, gives us opportunities to continuously cultivate those skills.

Dr. Shawn Ginwright’s piece invites me to consider my role in creating conditions for well-being at work and in my community so that we can build a bright and more equitable future. What helps you hope for and imagine a bright future in the midst of great hardship? What does collaboration look like in your department or circles outside of work? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Engaging with the Student Affairs Priority: How We Created a Structure for Collaborative Learning

 by Anna Bentley


Please visit this document for an accessible version of this article.


In support of the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) Priority, the Academic Success Center & Writing Center identified areas of our work to critically examine in order to create more equitable student success outcomes.

Visual showing a quote from the Student Affairs PriorityOur unit holds a shared value around equity work and engaging with the Priority. During the 2020-2021 academic year, we engaged in a year-long exploration of four topics:

(1) Equity in recruitment and hiring of student employees

(2) Merit’s impact on equity and student success

(3) Research, literature, and theory

(4) Work culture/decision-making


We designed a structure for learning about these topics that emphasized shared responsibility and a collaborative approach.


Shared Responsibility to Equity Work

Sometimes we don’t know how to make things better when systems produce inequitable outcomes. We may feel like we need to be an expert in a topic before we offer our ideas, or we need to have an expert tell us what to do in order to make changes. But when it comes to transforming systems and programs that we affect through our decisions and leadership, we can’t wait for an expert to emerge or for us all to know everything before we move forward.


Our team knew that we had a lot to learn about our topic areas, and we all came to the table with different perspectives and degrees of understanding. However, we also acknowledged that we are experts in our own experiences, we are all capable of facilitating conversations, and we all have a responsibility to equity work. With this in mind, we designed an approach to learning together where we had shared responsibility for leading our team’s learning.


Our Collaborative Learning Approach

Each topic for exploration was led by 2-3 members of the ASC & Writing Center. We started by creating milestone documents so we could define our project scope and goals, plan for learning activities, identify takeaways and possible actions, document actions we would take, and create an assessment plan. This structure kept us from rushing the process and jumping to action right away before we were engaged in exploration and learning. Milestone documents also held us accountable to taking action instead of staying in the learning phase indefinitely. The visual below offers a brief description of our milestone documents and the timeline for our projects.


A visual depitcing five steps in a timeline

Though we all shared a common timeline and framework for our approach to learning, our topic leaders facilitated topics in ways that were unique to them. Some of our activities included writing about our personal experiences, answering prompts related to selected readings, interviewing campus partners, and creating comprehensive project summaries. Group discussions followed nearly all of these activities so we could hear each other’s ideas and experiences and further our learning together. Topic leads designed learning activities, but everyone in our unit contributed to learning by engaging in group activities. Designing this structure for collaborative learning gave us a greater sense of engagement with the DSA Priority and a deeper understanding of other perspectives, while also developing our team facilitation skills. This graphic below describes our topics for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Visual with four quadrants containing descriptions of four projects

Looking Ahead

At the end of the last academic year, we assessed our approach to engaging with the DSA Priority and continued to improve our learning process. Moving forward, we’re keeping our milestone documents and our collaborative, facilitative approach. This year we’ll explore four new topics, exploring two topics throughout summer and fall and two topics in winter and spring.

As we begin exploring a new set of topics, we’re keeping in mind that we must constantly revisit and apply what we’ve already learned. We still have a lot to do to transform our practices, processes, and policies to improve student success and produce equitable outcomes for Students of Color. We’re committed to ongoing learning, critically examining our approach to serving students, and positively transforming our systems and structures.

Remote Onboarding Adventures

by Anna Bentley

Starting a new job is always exciting, nerve-wrecking, and full of anticipation. The last time I started a new job, I set aside what I would wear, programmed the coffee maker, and packed my lunch the night before. I set my alarm extra early because I didn’t know how long it would take me to get through traffic, find parking, and walk to my office. I wanted to set myself up for success and make a good impression on my first day.

That was before the pandemic. Starting a new job looks different when your entire team works remotely, and your commute is to your living room. I joined the Academic Success Center and Writing Center (ASC & Writing Center) as the Administrative Program Assistant in January 2021, and this remote experience has been overwhelmingly positive, which I attribute to thoughtful preparation and design of the onboarding process, as well as strategies I employed to make the most of the first few weeks in my new role. Here’s what I believe made my onboarding experience a positive one.

My supervisor prepared for my arrival weeks in advance

During my interview, Clare and I talked about what Photo of a welcome package including a laptop, pens, paper, chocolate, and a plantworking from home looked like for the ASC & Writing Center and what tools and support were available for the team’s success. After I accepted the job offer, she emailed me to see what technology I needed. When we met for the socially distanced technology hand-off, I was delighted to find that she provided not only my basic needs (laptop, notepads, and pens) but also included a hand-written note, chocolates, and even a plant. That gesture made me feel so welcome and valued before I even started my first day.

We prioritized building relationships remotely

From day one, it was clear that Clare wanted to create a genuine, welcoming experience for me. We had 30-minute check-ins every morning during my first few weeks, and she arranged a drop-in Zoom meet-and-greet for campus partners. I also connected individually with each member of our team to get to know them and how my role connected with their work. I found that building relationships remotely requires intentionality and a willingness to try new communication modalities. Spontaneous conversations in the breakroom might not exist at the moment, but a quick check-in via Teams chat can go a long way towards building a sense of belonging over time. When we feel like we belong and trust our colleagues, we collaborate more and have the courage to take creative risks.

I found my place in meaningful ways

In-person work experiences involve orienting new employees to physical spaces. For me, remote onboarding seemed to place greater emphasis on connecting to ideas, values, organizations, and philosophies. Instead of spending my first day getting a tour of Waldo Hall, Clare connected my work to the unit’s programs, the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Priority, OSU’s mission, and the history and values of the student affairs profession. Instead of introducing me to folks near my workspace, as is typical of an on-site experience, I was connected to campus partners who shared how they collaborate with our unit. While I look forward to an orientation to the physical space as well, I appreciated finding my place in the work in these meaningful ways.

 I took an active role in my onboarding experience

Starting a new job can be intimidating. There’s so much to learn, and a lot of us are afraid to mess up. But taking initiative during your first few weeks can be empowering – and a gift to your team. Instead of waiting for tasks to come to me, I was intentional about reaching out, asking how I could help, and keeping an eye open for projects. I tried to speak up and share my opinions, even if it scared me. In times when my confidence was shaky, I reminded myself that I am an expert in my experiences and that my perspectives are valid. Most importantly, I communicated my needs throughout my onboarding process.

This onboarding experience continues to be the best of any job I’ve had, which I credit to the thoughtful preparation and genuine interest in my success. If you’re hiring or onboarding new employees, I invite you to consider how you might design a welcoming, inclusive, and empowering experience for them. And if you’re the new employee, I encourage you to take an active role in your experience, have grace with your supervisor and colleagues, and be intentional about building relationships within your organization.