My three-month training period at SYL’s Communications is coming to an end, and it’s time to ponder what I’ll take away from this fall.
SYL communications are carried out by one expert, one Board member and one trainee. On the other hand, SYL considers communication a natural part of everyone’s job description, whether you are Chair of the Board or an education policy expert. Board members and experts draw attention to their work through blogs and social media updates. The office staff follow public debates very closely and help each other if a certain topic requires a quick response. During my time as a trainee, I have written statements, planned a newsletter to MPs, edited blog texts and videos, published social media updates, live-tweeted, taken photos and planned future campaigns. The work of a communications expert is similar to that of a symphony conductor who sends messages out from the office in a form and order that come together into a harmonious symphony once out in the open.
It’s been interesting to see which issues SYL communications focus on, as you simply cannot do everything. Resources affect communication volumes. But in the case of SYL, having a small team does not necessarily mean making a small impact. On the contrary, I’ve noticed that lobbying on issues that are important to 130,000 students is done extremely professionally.
I was welcomed into the work community with enthusiasm. Maybe this was because the organization’s Board changes annually and they are used to new people bringing in new opportunities. It was easy for me to become part of the team, and on the very first days I was told how things work and what our principles were. I also noticed that I was invited to all the meetings, including those to which I didn’t necessarily have anything to contribute. I could decide for myself which ones to participate in, and was not excluded from anything. For someone new, the work culture was very transparent.
The work community has also been very flexible. I’ve been able to adjust my working hours as I have seen fit, which has in fact been fairly necessary due to my studies. In fact, I’ve been able to combine my work and master’s studies surprisingly well, and they have sometimes even complemented each other.
But it wasn’t all song and dance. When we reached November, I realized that I was no longer as motivated, and found it difficult to get up in the morning. Having struggled with this for a while, I raised the matter with a colleague. It was the right thing to do. We had on open discussion and reprioritized my duties.
I’ve been delighted to see that everyone’s opinion is listened to on an equal basis. During the fall, I’ve had several discussions about SYL’s role in society now and in the future. My opinions and critique have been valued, despite the short time I’ve spent in the organization. This has made my work rewarding. I know from experience that not all workplaces listen to new employees as intently as this!