Managing Students

23 May 2017
By Veronica Child

I was brought onto the Datasquad to help Paula manage her wide variety projects and be an amateur ‘Project Manager’. While excited to learn about project managing, I was surprised when the majority of my time went to managing students.

Students are busy. Ask almost any college student – Carls especially – about how much work they have, and they’ll tell you about a test this week, a midterm the next, a project for tomorrow, an essay for tonight, and dozens of meetings in between. Most students would say that college is like a full time job, except without the pay. Having a job at college then seems like a great solution. Oftentimes ‘chill,’ campus jobs give students the much-needed pocket money and or tuition support.

But there’s of course the added problem: school. As an already busy college student, how do you manage your additional time commitment on top of all the work you have? How do you motivate yourself to work when you’re burnt out? This is a tricky balance that’s difficult to achieve, and though I don’t have a solution, I understand this unique issue as a fellow student too.

To do my job well, I’m concerned about the work. Is it being done – and being done well? Is my supervisor happy? Are the recipients happy? These goals, while basic, have been the fundamentals in approaching a project. However, I understand the other side of my peers, the student workers. Academics take precedence over all; during finals and midterms, work is typically put on the back-burner. That’s fine for one week, but what do you do when the workload is high every week?

These challenges come daily as being a project manager and a student, and awkward situations often come up. How do I act as both a managing force and a student peer? How do I ‘nudge’ a student worker who is my peer (and potentially a friend)? I’ve found a solution in combining empathy and guidance; I try to understand their workload while proposing ways they can stay on track. I check in regularly to know the status of their task as well as how they’re feeling about. Though there’s a task at hand that needs to get done, it doesn’t hurt to get it done through cooperation and flexibility.