Guest post by Alexandra Bessette.
This week I chatted with Kela M, the office assistant for the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering! This pioneering research facility incorporates diverse disciplines to “discover, disseminate and apply new knowledge critical to understanding and mitigating the impact of the natural, built and social environments on human health.”
Johns Hopkins Environmental Health and Engineering,
Alex B.: How did you get started working in the office of Environmental Health and Engineering?
Kela M.: I applied for the position through the Job Search portal on the JHU Student Employment Services website. I was then asked to interview and got an email an hour after the initial interview offering me the position!
AB: What are your job responsibilities?
KM: I assist in the daily organization and filing of all projects and department data to ensure that the Senior Academic Coordinator (aka: my boss) has accurate records. I also perform administrative duties, such as communicating with the public telephonically, sending informative emails to the student body, and helping plan and facilitate department wide social events.
AB: What skills have you gained from this position?
KM: I’ve gained some obvious skills, like learning how to e-file, becoming comfortable with spreadsheets and spreadsheet data, and communicating with people both on the phone and in person, as well as some unexpected skills, like the best way to put tablecloths on a table so they look fancier, how to create 300 nametags in under an hour, and how to make copies in the most efficient way, including stapling and loading fancy paper.
AB: How does your experience in this position relate back to your academic interests and future goals?
KM: My experiences in this position have actually been great because when I first got the job, I had no idea what I wanted to do post-graduation, but I also was not giving it a lot of thought. Now, since I am immersed in a very motivated atmosphere every time I walk into the department, I have started thinking more seriously about my plans for graduate school, and even realize how much I enjoy working on a college campus around students. I’m not sure where this is going to take me yet, but at least I’m thinking more seriously than I was before!
AB: How has working shaped your Hopkins experience?
KM: Working has benefitted me so much since I have been at Hopkins, because not only have my hours given me a structure for doing homework, both when I have time at work, and before and after my shift, but I have also been able to afford most of my own expenses since I have been at school, such as textbooks, groceries, dinners with my friends, and just the general cost of living.
AB: How do you think your experience in this position will help you after you leave Hopkins?
KM: After I leave Hopkins, I am happy that I will be able to say that I have experience doing clerical and office work, and will have multiple points of contact, both from faculty and staff, for professional and personal references in the future.
AB: Do you have any advice for job-seeking students or younger student employees?
KM: My best advice would probably be to take advantage of any opportunity that your student employment offers you, such as networking with faculty, staff, and students, working extra summer or winter hours, or having opportunities to study and do homework, because the more you make yourself comfortable in your position, the happier you will be about having that position, and the better your experience will be!