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Prepping For My Real Job

Jose 3 Comments

Damian tagged me, and I must oblige. After all, I tagged almost everyone and their mother yesterday trying to get you all to help me with my most involved effort yet. Damian asked me which of my previous (and worst) jobs helped me prepare for the job I have currently (please tell me you didn’t miss that boat). Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never had a bad job because each job I’ve ever taken either advanced my transparent agenda or helped me put food on the table or paid for college expenditures. Now that that’s out of the way …

I have to say, after working as a camp counselor, concession stand worker at a big movie theatre, student security on campus, and database work at an educational research firm, none quite prepared me for my job or helped me get into the mentality of working with kids quite like my position as the Education Chair of La LUCHA at Syracuse U.

OK, so that wasn’t the worst job, nor was it something I was “hired” to do, but voted in. Of course, some of the readers who already knew me from previous incarnations wouldn’t consider it a job either as I never got paid monetarily. OK, fair enough, but here’s why I was more than prepared for my work with children after helping to lead that organization:

1. I had to learn quite quickly to not take things too personally. I had a big habit of doing it because, really, I put my whole person into that organization. Unfortunately, some people don’t view it the same way nor do they see my vision for the org. It prospered, but not like I’d hoped.

2. Making real change happen takes a lot of personal sacrifice. On the one hand, I had a drive very few matched when it came to that org, and when I wanted a real change to happen, I worked as hard as possible to make that change happen, sacrificing a whole lot of time I could have spent doing a whole lot of nothing.

3. I must make personal time. On the other hand, I also had to take some time for myself, and often, I didn’t know when to step back and do that.

4. Constant feedback and reflection are a vital part of becoming the best. At first, I didn’t take constructive criticism or any other type for that matter too well, because I thought the organization at the time needed a vast change and I was the only one who could bring it. Then, I was asked to get humble. And quick. I reflected on where that criticism came from and what much of that negativity would mean for the legacy I was trying to leave behind. But it wasn’t about me. It was about the org. Once I came to that epiphany, I started to work quietly, adjusting my game plan for the great good.

5. Sometimes, the best reaction is to let the chips fall where they may. There’d be days when certain people would bring a lot of negativity in my direction, trying to force me to react or fire back in a way that’s “unbecoming” of a leader. Most of it was immature, and they tried to intimidate me to step down. I wouldn’t. Rather than respond, I let everything pass, because I knew there’d be a moment when karma would inevitably take care of everything, which sure enough, it did.

6. Dealing with administration takes time, patience, and professionalism. No matter how unprofessional the professionals are, and no matter how “in the right” you are, there’s a time and place for every protest, question, or even comment. Professionalism will more often than not help your case.

7. Never let a moment in which you can teach someone go to waste. Never.

jose, who will not lose …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

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