Administrative assistants plan for success

In Features
Mimi Hung / Daily Titan
Mimi Hung / Daily Titan

The phone rings. An email suddenly pops on the screen. A student walks in, he says he is here to see the department chair for a noon appointment.

The administrative assistant calls the chair, notifying them that the student is waiting for them in the lobby.

The assistant goes on to answer the ringing phone—it’s the 20th time today.

She hangs up, pencils in an appointment for the next day and turns her attention to the stack of papers labeled “urgent.”

Leilani Thomas is the administrative assistant for the department chair for Human Services and Counseling. She has been working in that department for almost five years.

“We help anyone that comes in, whether it be students, faculty, the public any interest of people that want to know about the program,” said Thomas.

Thomas takes care of the mail and helps students with their scheduling issues.

Along with taking care of the budget, the administrative assistants hire student assistants.

Thomas keeps a to-do list to help keep her organized around her busy schedule. She has a few different piles on her desk as a way to prioritize what needs attention and set apart other to-do’s that can wait.

Although some tasks can take a short amount of time, other things like placing textbook orders for the Human Services Department and master’s in counseling classes can take a few weeks, especially when ordering desk copies for faculty.

“That’s a huge job in itself because all the publishers are really picky,” Thomas said. “It takes a lot of research and finding out publisher contact and what they expect, they are all different.”

Thomas also takes care of restocking and ordering school supplies for faculty members in the department. School supplies are always in stock in a room, in case any professors are in need.

Thomas said she enjoys the interactions she gets with her co-workers.

“What I do, I enjoy, so coming to work is actually awesome. I can honestly say that,” Thomas said.

Heather Guzman has been administrative support assistant for the dean of the College of the Arts for nearly nine years.

Guzman’s job is to assist the dean and the students and help them in anyway they might need. Her responsibilities include doing clerical and receptionist-type work for the deans of the college.

She said the busiest times of year vary, but usually peak times occur either at the beginning or end of the semester.

“Certain times of the year it’s more busy, like the first few weeks of school seems to be a very busy time, commencement time is a busy time,” said Guzman.

Guzman said she enjoys being part of the College of the Arts because she is located next to a gallery and she sees a lot of theater and art performances, as well as exhibitions.

A rewarding part of her job is helping students and seeing them succeed, when the department takes part in commencement.

“Being able to see the students from freshmen, to senior, to even graduate level … We see them through the whole thing … it’s like you’re watching your own kid sometimes,” Guzman said.

Stacey M. Wilson is the assistant to the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences and a human resources analyst/specialist.

Wilson works closely with the dean, helps manage his calendar and makes his appointments and meetings.

Wilson also manages his contacts outside and inside of campus.

She said she serves as the liaison between the dean’s office and the different departments within the college.

With all the responsibilities she has as an assistant, Wilson said staying organized is key.

“You have to stay organized and stay on top of things because when (the dean) needs something its all hands on deck. You drop what you’re doing and you get it on and you move on,” Wilson said.

Wilson also takes care of student payroll process and faculty hiring.

Although Wilson is not the only person answering all the calls, she said the dean gets around 20 to 50 phone calls a day and around 100 emails that the assistants take care of.

For Wilson, being a liaison between the dean and everyone else can be difficult at times because she sometimes have to be the bearer of bad news for the dean.

“There are times where (the dean) really relies on me to keep him on point … to remind him, to help him prep for things,” Wilson said. “I think I am fairly influential.”

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