I’ve got a late in the day substitution for our Mocha Wednesdays spot. Love you, Emily, we all hope the boys are feeling better soon.
So since I have this chance I’m going to expand on Monday’s thought and share with you something that happened today as I was on my way to workout. I have gym privileges at one of the schools that I support for my job that I’ve never really taken full advantage of sadly. But today I clocked out of work, changed into my gym clothes and made the short drive from my office to campus. I parked really far away so that I could get a good warm up in on the way to the workout facility, close to half of a mile. I walked through the door and chatted up a few people. (Sidebar: I really do love university/college campuses and I would seriously spend all of my time there if I could, well when I wasn’t traveling the world because I LOVE surrounding myself in an atmosphere of learning) I arrive at the entrance of the gym and I see three energetic African American female students manning the desk. I take out my id card and wait my turn in line. When I reach the head of line I address all three of them politely and explain that I’m new to the facility. They all looked at me and said, well, here it is and pointed toward the basketball courts.
(Press Pause) Now, all of these are student workers, and the correct answer would have been, “Would you like for one of us to show you around?” Now I’m going to explain the difference between how I was raised and how the majority would respond to this treatment. If you took a majority stance the response would have been to say, well I need one of you to show me around or why don’t you call your manager and have them come explain to me why one of you three can’t show me around? Tell me I’m wrong.
(Resume) I took a slightly different tact because I saw in this a chance to teach them how they should have reacted. I singled out one of the young women and said, “Well, I’d appreciate it if you would show me the ropes, come on and walk with me.” She complied. She wasn’t as well versed on what offerings the center had as she should have been but I asked her questions and coaxed some good responses out of her. She tried to short change the tour saying things like, “Oh I’m not about to walk all the way down there.” To which I responded, “Oh no, lets.” I insisted that she take me upstairs as well and that we take the stairs, not the elevator. (smile) I let her know that I’d give her a good recommendation for being thorough in her tour. That’s when she gave me my favorite response for our brief time together, “Well, I don’t think they really evaluate us or anything. So that doesn’t really matter.” I took the time to explain to her that it did and that she should take pride in doing a good job. After that, I let her go back to her desk and the three amigas kept right on goofing off and scanning people in when they came up to the desk.
While I was getting it in on the treadmill, I thought about this interaction. Clearly the appropriate behavior for how to conduct themselves professionally as student workers is either not being modeled or it’s not the standard that they are being held to in their job performance. But how will they learn how to conduct themselves if those of us who know better don’t take the time to teach them. This particular student told me that her major was nursing, NURSING, y’all. That’s not a profession where you want someone not to learn the importance of attention to detail and having pride in doing a good job. This might just be a little work study/student job for her but in this time she is learning and developing the habits that she WILL carry into the workplace. We have to hold these students to a higher standard. We NEED to teach them ALL of the skills they will need to be successful in the workplace, both in the classroom and in how we live our lives in front of them. If we don’t, the consequences are a poorly trained workforce and we’ll only have ourselves to blame for not taking the time to teach this generation what they need to know.