ASPSA Intern Alumni Series – Sara Gothelf (’11-’12)

Sara Gothelf Intern Class 2011-12 University of Texas, San Antonio

Who have you worked for?

I have worked for the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) since I left the internship. This August will be 7 years!

What is your current position-roles and responsibilities?

At UTSA, I am an academic coordinator working with volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball, men’s tennis and women’s tennis. This was the fourth year that I had this set of six teams, so I’ve been consistently part of these programs during my time here. For a few years, I also ran our tutorial program. Although the tutoring role now belongs to someone else, I have stayed on to help because she’s a coordinator too, and I know how tough it is to do it all alone. I assist with the day-to-day responsibilities when she is out, but normally I assist with recruitment, interviewing, assessing, and problem solving/issues. Working with tutoring really has given me the ability and desire to constantly see this office as a whole, instead of only worrying about my teams and I am grateful for that.

We’ve been given funding for GA positions so right now I am working on recruitment efforts and also talking with my co-workers about our goals for these positions. Based on these conversations, I am putting together a handbook and guidelines for us moving forward. Our office can really use the extra help and these positions have the ability to make a large difference.

What was one valuable thing you learned at this internship that you took to your next institution?

There are certainly a handful of conversations and observations I vividly remember and think about often. There are two things that really still impact me daily. One of the most valuable lessons from the internship that I carry with me was a conversation I had with our then-director, Carrie. She and I were scheduled to meet one afternoon and it looked like she was having a stressful day. I asked her if she wanted to change our time or day so that she could focus on other things, but she said no. Carrie had a conversation with me about how she would have let me know if she needed to cancel, and to not assume I was helping by offering. She told me that if she couldn’t meet with me, that I would know. I think about this still when I see my current supervisor/co-workers running around or seeming stressed. Instead of offering to not meet, which assumes I’m not as important or that they can’t manage their time, I prepare for the meeting. This seemingly innocent interaction has really stuck with me. Although this could easily be a simple personal belief or philosophy of Carrie, I still use this way of thinking, mostly with those in administrative positions.

Secondly, I still use the same system to document grades that I learned while at ASPSA. It was a comfort when I first got my job because it helped me to easily document and recall information when I felt like I was drowning in other ways. I knew I could rely on that documentation style until I felt under control and then I could make changes and create my own system. I’ve never made a change.

What advice would you give to future interns?

The advice I would like to give to future interns –

  • Be kind to yourself. You will make decisions that you regret, but not every decision is catastrophic and you can make a different call the next time.
  • Trial and error works for you just as much as it works for your students. Errors won’t seem so bad if you already told yourself you’ll be using this framework.
  • Ask questions.
  • Create cheat sheets for yourself on things you have a hard time remembering.
  • These pieces of advice I would give to new full-time employees as well!

Can you talk about your job search post-internship?

I applied to about 10 jobs, I think, and kept a nice little spreadsheet. I had a handful of phone interviews and then one Skype interview. UTSA was my first on-campus experience and was the place I ended up. I remember I was pretty scared of the whole process.

Advice for the job search?

  • It’s OK not to apply everywhere and have some boundaries
  • You are allowed to cross a school off your list before they cross you off theirs
  • Where you end up isn’t where you have to stay
  • In addition to writing notes (during an interview) about questions they asked or what you asked, write down other things such as if they laugh, if you smiled, if a conversation started about something off-topic. These moments or non-moments are also important.

 

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