It’s easy to get caught up in our world and the challenges we face, which could lead to thinking we are the only ones going through difficult times. Sometimes, we might think we’re the only ones working after hours and the only ones who must face so much work for our inadequate resources. This could lead to thinking we are unfairly being asked to take on the burdens of our organization on our own. This kind of thinking happens when we don’t take the time to connect with other folks in other parts of our organization. In IT, we are often asked to work after hours and on weekends because that’s the only time we are allowed to do some maintenance work and not disrupt the work of our customers during business hours. I personally don’t do much technical work anymore, given my management role, but for years, I worked after hours and on weekends to complete parts of my job. There were times when I got frustrated, but there was one thing I did that gave me perspective on my situation. It’s a practice I still do today – talk to other folks in other units in my organization about the challenges they are going through.

Admittedly, there have been times in the past when I have over-valued the importance of my role in IT when it comes to providing services to the students and the campus community. As an IT organization, we’ve created significant systems that have improved the efficiency/effectiveness of how the staff does their work. We’ve also created systems that helped students learn and assist them in their lives outside the classrooms. As the dependency on technology grew over the last few years, so did the demands on IT. At the same time, the resources to meet the demands have not been able to keep up. This is the daily challenge I face now as the director of my IT organization. It’s daunting, indeed.

However daunting my challenges are, when I speak with other colleagues in our student affairs organization, I gain perspective on how my challenges compare with others. As I am reminded, we are all facing a not-so-unique challenge of too much work and dealing with much more complicated situations but with insufficient resources. But, on the other hand, I am also reminded that I don’t have to deal with the aftermath of tragedies, not at the personal level at least. When I speak with my colleagues, I am reminded that they are the ones that must make the calls to parents to inform them their child just committed suicide, or they must be the ones the campus community must look up to as the strong ones to lead them through a crisis when they are suffering at the same time. During these conversations, I am reminded that as challenging as my job is, I cannot even imagine the impact my colleagues’ jobs must have on them. I am dealing with computers; they sometimes must deal with human tragedies.