You’re the Boss: Managing a Department…While Still in College

By Alexa Gold

keep-calm-you-re-the-boss-2There’s an “Ah-ha” moment that strikes all inbetweeners. It’s the moment when you realize your days spent surviving on Ramen Noodles are coming to an end.

That moment hit me last summer. I started a new job as Transportation Coordinator for a Long Island day camp. As a doe-eyed and confused college student, the first two weeks in my personal desk gave me the culture shock of entering foreign territory. At 21-years-old, I managed the arrivals and departures for 38 bus routes throughout the entirety of the summer session. Mechanics, spare drivers and bus counselors were all on speed dial. It was down to me to call the shots.

While I prayed each morning for dry weather and inflated tires, I began to realize that I was ultimately responsible for each child’s safety. Aside from transportation, many of the children with allergies carried an Epi-pen to and from the camp. It was my duty to collect their medications and deliver them to the nurses after all of the buses had arrived to the campsite. When one boy’s epi-pens had been left behind, I had to coordinate how we would get it back to his house in the shortest amount of time. Being new to the job, I kindly asked the nurse for advice on what to do. She looked at me and said, “It’s up to you, you’re the boss.”

And that’s when it hit me. “You’re the boss.” Still, to this day, I don’t remember how that situation worked itself out. I just remember leaving that office dumbfounded and proud at the same time. After 3 years of college classrooms, I made it to the big leagues. In that moment, I had become an adult.

“But wait!,” I told myself on the drive home that evening, “I still have one year left of school.” I am writing today from my off-campus house at SUNY New Paltz. To be frank, this year’s classes makes me feel like a starving cat clawing on the chalkboard. The system has caged my creativity and I’m waiting to be set free. It’s sometimes difficult to find excitement in “Advanced PR” when I’ve already worked as a senior communications manager. I spend my days longing to belong.

Isn’t that what all inbetweeners do? We know that at the end of the rainbow, there’s a shiny piece of paper that makes the struggle of attending presentations of worn-out jargon worthwhile. We live away from home for four years, we intern, we study abroad; only when we have our gilded diplomas are we deemed “ready.”

Are we ever ready? I think we’re growing every day. Maybe your “Ah-ha” moment happen will happen in Prague. Maybe your “Ah-ha” moment will happen when you learn how to bake macaroni and cheese. Whatever you do, just don’t let your experiences be measured by a piece of paper.

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