Spring 2013 Reflection 1

When asked why I came to Butler, I often jokingly respond that it was because of Excel. Whenever I have to make a big decision, like where am I going to spend four years of my life during undergrad, I make a table. I think of all the factors that are important to me—location, cost of living, retention rate, number of nearby churches—and I utilize the comparison to make a decision. I said all that to point out how ingrained technology is into my life. I’ve always been a somewhat geeky person. If I want to learn how to use a program, either I point and click until I understand everything or I find an instructional that helps walk me through it.

Working at Information Commons has given me the opportunity to do everything I love. I work with and learn new technologies every day. I am constantly teaching others and building instructional resources. But most of all, working at Information Commons has taught me how to truly be a leader. All of these skills are things that I will keep with me the rest of my life. Information Commons has been a high point of my experience at Butler and will always be what I credit as my first real professional experience. But what have I left behind me as a legacy? What have I contributed to the program that has poured so much into me? Now that’s a harder question to answer.

My hope is that my biggest contribution to Information Commons has been that I have been an example of leadership and mentoring. My first semester here was really tough because I came on to the job as an Associate, and most of the time felt like I had no idea what I was doing. That year and the next, I tried my best to model my actions and leadership after Kristen Allen. Kristen was the backbone of the program, and I wanted to make sure that her hard work did not go to waste and her vision continued after she was gone. Now, I hope that others can say the same of me.

My goal during my time here has been to be the best Associate I can be. I want to be an example of a trustworthy person. I want the new Assistants to see my work ethics and drive and understand that is what we want them to model after. I have tried to be a role model in leadership. I want model to others that leaders are still expected to follow the same rules as those who follow them. I want my team to understand that we work together; they don’t work for me. And I want to implement streamline processes and keep things organized so that anyone who comes in after me can easily understand and pick up a project where I left off.

One of the things I am most proud of and excited about is that Julianne has allowed the associates to help build and change the program. I had the opportunity to play an integral role in the creation of the new Specialist position. I have been involved in changing and implementing new policies that help keep the students accountable to the program and help us accomplish our vision. And most of all, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to lead independently. Instead of just fulfilling a list of job expectations, I’ve branched out and created new responsibilities and opportunities for myself.

Coming into the job, I was pretty confident in my ability to lead by example. What I soon realized I was clueless about was how to be a true leader, because a true leader isn’t just an example, but has followers. Now, I feel that I have developed into becoming a leader through mentorship. It’s a learning process I’m still working on, but I now understand that just being the example isn’t enough. If I want others to follow my example, I need to mentor them by learning their strengths and weaknesses, helping them discover their fit in the program, making them feel important and necessary, and inspiring them to have continual growth. Part of mentoring is addressing weaknesses, and that’s the one area I still struggle with. I want to focus on people’s strengths all the time, but sometimes that creates problem areas that later become a big hindrance.  My goal this semester is to learn how to help people with their weaknesses and still make their overall experience positive.

So what is my legacy? If I had to leave advice for future Information Commons students, this is what I would tell them:

  1. Be the initiator. If you don’t understand exactly what you are supposed to do, ask. If you think of a new project that would benefit the program, suggest it. If you want to become a leader in the program, display those characteristics now. If you feel that the program could be more effective in one area, bring that to the attention of your supervisors and then help implement the change. The Information Commons program isn’t bounded by a job description and set list of services. We are constantly changing, seeking improvements, and growing. But that process can only happen if you take the initiative and become the change.
  2. Expect to grow. Information Commons is a professional development program and therefore will challenge you to develop your abilities. If you feel overwhelmed at first by the magnitude of what we do, welcome to the club. We are all still learning and growing as the program continues to expand. While you may be the resident expert in one thing, most likely there will need to ask for help with something else. Use each opportunity to learn from those around you and always be willing to grow.
  3. Be a leader. No matter what your title is or how long you have been in the program, be a leader. Rise above the expectations and be willing to take on responsibility. Hold yourself to a high standard, but don’t expect others to do more than you are willing to do. Be understanding. Be a peacemaker. Be willing to apologize. Be the example. Learn how to mentor someone and then help them reach their full potential. Always look for the good in every situation and person. Always put the person before the problem, the program, or the position. Seek advice if you are struggling or at a loss. Information Commons has great potential, but the only way we can see the vision become a reality is by leading the way.
    • Aaron
    • February 14th, 2013

    Erica, you are awesome and I am so proud of you.

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