One Year A Coug

Could a work anniversary be anymore unique? Today I celebrate one year at Washington State University. On second thought, I think semantics are important in this case. Let me rephrase it this way: Today I celebrate one year with Washington State University.

I make this distinction in jest because I only spent a single day in the office during my debut year as a Coug. After that first day on campus in Pullman, due to the pandemic, I have worked entirely from home in Spokane. Although I joke about the strange circumstances and still use it as an icebreaker on Zoom when I meet someone new (believe it or not, I was just on campus for one day…), working remotely would not sour my first year working for WSU.

At my 1-year mark of employment at WSU, I give my experience two big thumbs up!

Except for a little thing called the Coronavirus, my social media strategist position has been exactly as advertised—which is a good thing because that is why I took the job. Paid social advertising, campaigns, analytics, and social media management for the WSU System channels were all focal points of the job description and turned out to be responsibilities I perform every day.

COVID-19 added some necessities to my plate such as virtual town hall organization, testing communication, and safe behavior outreach. Truth be told, there was never a time during my first year when the pandemic did not have a daily impact on what I did. Although the virus could be disruptive and scary, I always considered myself lucky that my position allowed me to stay as informed as possible. Working at a place with world-class scientists and excellent science writers will keep you abreast during a pandemic.

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

This first year at WSU I had the opportunity to give numerous presentations, devise/execute many plans, make recommendations, introduce new platforms, and provide trainings. This allowed me to not only contribute but more importantly it opened the “virtual” door to meet new people. Although some might believe that working remotely can hinder professional relationships, I never felt that way throughout the past 12 months.

It has been such a pleasure working with colleagues from different departments and campuses. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to work with non-WSU professionals in the Palouse community and social media managers at other institutions. But I can’t say enough about the people I have the joy of working with on a daily basis within the department that I am part of—University Marketing and Communications. From our news unit that I am housed under to our graphics team to our enrollment management marketing director to our web wizzes to our video crew to our dedicated magazine folks, I just feel fortunate to work with these folks who are so good at what they do.

My dad commemorated today’s workversary by making this.

I also feel extremely lucky to work for effective and humble leadership. We have a superb vice president leading our department who trusts the expertise of each individual in University Marketing and Communications. I also have incredible direct bosses who are supportive and empowering. When I was interviewing for this position I thought I want to work for these people and when I became part of the team my motivation to work for them strengthened even more.

Looking back on the first year, I have a few favorite things I worked on. The #PalouseUnity campaign, the 2020 WSU holiday video, our Coronavirus research awareness push, and the debut of our TikTok channel were all fun projects that also seemed to make a difference. Another bright spot from the first year was just the social media outreach I got to do with colleagues within the WSU System. Whether it was talking strategy, building paid social plans, or identifying key metrics to focus on when reporting analytics, my job was very rewarding because I got to help others at WSU reach their social media goals.

I have worked from home since my second day on the job.

When I arrived at WSU I had to adjust to working at a university that was much bigger and had much more tradition than my previous institution. Thankfully, the person I work closest with was there to help me navigate the waters. Matt Haugen, our social media manager, has an immense amount of institutional knowledge and he has never withheld sharing it with me. His willingness to help me with the complexities and nuances of a system the size of WSU has made my job a lot easier and his own social media expertise has made me better at what I do.

I am proud to be part of the Coug family. When I started the job I wrote that first and foremost I just wanted to contribute. As I enter my second year I want to focus on doing the same. it seems like once you are able to add something of value to your team, everything else just falls into place. Go Cougs! Don’t Blink.

Six Months A Coug

If you had told me that I would spend the first half year of a new job primarily at home, I probably wouldn’t believe you. But that would have been my thinking pre-COVID. As we all are very familiar with now, this virus has a way of crushing norms.

Thumbs up for my six-month anniversary at Washington State University. Had to get Sid to snap a photo of me in my closet office.

Today I mark six months as an employee at Washington State University. When I have a meeting with someone for the first time, my go-to icebreaker is to tell them that I literally spent one day in my on-campus office before receiving the directive to work from home. It’s true. On March 16 I traveled with my supervisor to Pullman for that first day. When I was packing up to leave that night, we were told to prepare to work from home for the next couple weeks. Well, 26 weeks later…

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

Despite the strange circumstances and the unprecedented period we are navigating in higher education, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first six months at WSU and am so happy that I made the decision to work for the Cougs. I am in a good spot.

What I have treasured most during my short time at WSU is just being able to contribute. With the COVID crisis really turning everything upside-down, there was plenty to do the moment I switched from teal and bronze to crimson and gray. Besides assisting with our coronavirus response, I have been able to focus on the things that really attracted me to the job: analytics, paid social advertising, and campaign development.

Before moving into the closet at our new house, this was my at-home office

I have also taken on projects and efforts that are vitally important in the current educational climate. To be entrusted with such tasks at a major land grant institution is exactly the direction I wanted to take my career in.

To say I am grateful for both my position and the projects assigned to me is an understatement. I can’t thank my bosses enough for affording me both. I have remained impressed and inspired by our department leadership and feel fortunate to work in such a great work climate…even if it is a virtual one.

Our family is proud to be Cougs!

Making the work climate so effective and welcoming goes beyond my bosses. My co-workers have a lot to do with it too. I work with some talented and dedicated individuals who also are team players. Even though I have primarily worked with them via Zoom, the work relationships feel authentic and very similar to all of the ones I have had in the past.

The next six months will be interesting to say the least. Who knows where we will be with this virus and what instruction at WSU will look like. Needless to say, when March 16, 2021, comes around I will have a very interesting post to pen about my first year as a Coug. Don’t Blink.