Author Archives: Joe Sabado

Reflecting on Why I Love My Job in Student Affairs

I came across a couple of blog posts and some tweets on why it’s not a good idea to love one’s job. It made me think of how I I approach what I do in student affairs. I’ve come to the conclusion that for me to do what I do, I really do need to care and love the purpose of my contributions and the folks that impact them for me to have put the efforts and thoughts all these years. By no means am I suggesting  other folks who don’t share the same level of care/love can’t/don’t do their job as well or better than I do. Nor am I suggesting that my job is all fun and games. I share my stories not to suggest other folks should approach their jobs like me, but because I do genuinely feel blessed to be working for an organization which provides me personal and professional satisfactions.

The bureaucracy, the lack of resources to do what need to be done, and sometimes difficult personalities are challenges that make my job hard at times. At times, I feel as I’ve been treated lesser than others because of the color of my skin or my background. But, they are all worth the efforts to deal with them given the reasons why I’m in student affairs. To me, it’s about helping the first generation students who don’t have parents and family members who can help them navigate college, those who are struggling financially to attend school, those who are trying to find themselves in a society that is not fair at times. The satisfaction in my job is just seeing these students succeed. They may not even know I exist. That’s okay. I’m not asking for anything in return from these students personally. I’ve been fortunate though to have built relationships with some students that have lasted beyond their years at UCSB.

If I view my job in student affairs IT as just about computers, I’m missing the bigger picture. In the end, it’s about helping students succeed through technology and my roles as discussion leader, organizational advisor, mentor, and a facilitator. In my role as the director/leader in my IT organization, it’s about helping my staff and my colleagues grow, create an environment where they feel personally satisfied with what they do and that they feel they are contributing. Ultimately, my job is about helping people and helping build communities. I am also part of the UCSB community.

As I reflect on this topic of why one should not love their job, I came across these blog posts I’ve written in the past that remind me of why I love my job.

Nowhere I’d Rather Be Than in Student Affairs:

The Significance of Possibility/Role Models:

UCSB STEP Program – Nourishment For My Soul

Why I Love My Job in Student Affairs

UCSB Community – We’re All In This Together

Pilipino Graduation and What My Job Really Means

Beware: Don’t Become The Very Thing You Criticize

I once belonged to an organization as a student. It was an organization that had a relatively large membership, I would say more than 100 members. As such is the case with an organization of that size, cliques and sub-groups based on interests and backgrounds began to form. In addition, “in-crowds”, those considered popular and influential to the organization and its activities soon developed. Along with the “in-crowd” were those who felt marginalized as they felt their interests weren’t heard and acknowledged. Soon, the marginalized folks began to express their discontent about the lack of discourse and openness to alternative ideas which ultimately lead them to break-away from the main organization to form their own group.

What became of the new group, from my perspective, was an interesting one. Whether the members of this new group realized it or not, they themselves began to alienate new members because the new members did not align with the group’s ideologies. It’s ironic that the core group members began to practice the same behaviors of the “in-crowd” of the other organization they had criticized.

As we fight  for our own rights and the rights of others to be heard, just remember that when you are afforded the opportunity to finally be heard and to provide influence – just beware, don’t become the very thing you criticize.


What Do You Want For Your Staff?

As managers, how often do we ask ourselves this question “what do I want for my staff?” Sometimes we focus so much on getting deadlines met and tasks to be completed that we fail to ask and consider what can we do to help our staff to grow, to learn, and frankly to make sure they are satisfied personally and that they feel they’re contributing to the organization.

How often do we spend time talking one-on-one with them, and I mean talking with them, not talking at them? It’s easy to focus on what projects they’re working on and how much they’ve accomplished towards their tasks, but how often do we ask “how are you?” and “how can I help you?”

I write this as a personal reminder to take the time to fulfill my responsibility as a servant leader to my staff; to make sure they are taken care of.

Nowhere I’d Rather Be Than in Student Affairs

It is during the most challenging times of my job when I find myself thinking how blessed I am to have my job in student affairs, specifically as an IT leader within student affairs. The sometimes convoluted nature of higher education bureaucracy, the pressure of having to deliver critical technology services with the limited amount of resources, and having to juggle competing priorities make it challenging some days. But, even with these challenges, actually, because of these challenges, that I feel blessed to have my job. I can easily look beyond the day-to-day frustrations because I know that at the end of the day, what matters is that my colleagues and I, the work we do, have a very important purpose – to help students succeed.

My wife and I were watching a tv show this evening, it might have been Dinners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the food network. The host asked a chef “how much of what you do is work and how much is it love?” My wife asked me, the same question. My immediate answer is 100% love. That may sound corny but and overly sentimental, but I truly believe it. Yes, my job provides me and my wife income to live a life we enjoy, but frankly, if I were paid the same amount working outside student affairs, I don’t think I will have the same personal and professional fulfillment. What the public may hear and read about UCSB at times is that we are a party school. The reality is that I know many students who came from challenging backgrounds growing up and they have had to fight through some adversities to get to the university. I also know that these students take their studies seriously as they not only have the burden of creating a future for themselves but for their families as well. These students drive me. They motivate me to do my part to make sure they succeed.

I don’t think about this often, but from time to time, I look at our portfolio, the body of work our team has done through the years, and it’s amazing how technology impacts the lives of our students, way before they even step on to our university. I think about how our online disabled student program system enable our students with disabilities to get accessibility resources (note takers, proctors, adaptive devices), how our student health service and counseling and psychological service information systems helps our clinicians and psychologists provide timely and effective service to our students, and how our  other systems and applications assist our students from the application process and after they graduate. When I think about the value of these systems,  I realize how important our roles are to the success of our students.

There are times when I read/hear others complain about the demands of our jobs as student affairs professionals and I think I can sympathize with some of these complaints. But, personally, if one is to think about the amazing opportunities we have to make a difference in the lives of our students and their families, how blessed are we to be working in student affairs.

Own Your Story. Share Your Story.

I watched a clip of Dr. Victor Rios’ interview about the adversities he faced growing up and how he overcame them to obtain his PhD. Dr. Rios is a very highly regarded Sociology professor at UCSB. He is also known for his work in the community working with youths. In his interview, he said  the words “Own your story. Share your story.” This really resonated with me. For most of my life, I never really felt as if I had anything remarkable to share. I can’t speak about the struggles other friends have had in their lives. I’ve encountered racism, discrimination, and struggles throughout my life, but even then, I never felt as if they’re at the level worthy of talking about. But what I’ve come to realize that as unremarkable as my life may have been to this point, I do have some perspectives to share.

My family and I came to the United States when I was 11 years old. While I spoke some English, I was teased a lot in the playground because of my “fresh off the boat” accent. Because of the fear of being teased, I sometimes pretended to be sick during those days when I had to do oral book reports. I became self-conscious of my speech for the most part of high school and even for the first year or so in college. I feared public speaking because I expected to see someone in the audience laughing at my accent. So, I stayed quiet. I had ideas, but I chose not to share them. I finally got tired of staying silent. I became more vocal towards my latter part of college. I finally gained some confidence.

When I became a professional, I soon found out my voice would be drowned again. I felt the same struggles as when I was growing up. At meetings, I felt as if my ideas were ignored. When I spoke about my perspective as a person of color, I felt as if I wasn’t taken seriously. I lost confidence and found myself trying to express my perspectives once again.

It is through my blog posts that I’m finally able to express my thoughts, share my experience growing up, about the sacrifices my parents made and the value systems I learned from them. It’s through my blog posts that I can share my concepts of leadership and the influences and philosophies that shape my leadership style.

When  I started my blog, I didn’t have expectations when it came to who will be reading them or if people would even find my posts interesting enough to read. What I have found though is that in sharing my stories, I’ve developed some connections with folks I have never even met in person before. As I’ve come to find out, I am not alone in how I see the world and with my struggles.

While my life may not be remarkable enough worthy of a movie or a book, it’s been liberating to be able to share my story - to own them and to be able to share them.