A Day in the Life of a Program Coordinator: Andy Egizi
A Day in the Life of a Program Information Coordinator—Andy Egizi
Here’s the first in our series on the “Day in the Life” of a UIS Coordinator, Professor, or COLRS staff member.
After working briefly at UIS (then Sangamon State University) in the 80s, Andy Egizi returned in 1999 as a coordinator. Andy works with students in Liberal Studies (LIS), plus three other campus-based programs. As a coordinator, he knows the ins and outs of the university in a way that students aren’t expected to know, and when they ask for help he tries to “find the best solution for whatever challenge students are facing.” Andy is “homegrown” and has an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in communication from UIS. He recently returned from a trip in which he squeezed six Broadway performances into four days, bringing him one step closer to seeing a performance in every theater in New York City’s Theater District. “I have a long way to go,” he says.
Several caveats regarding Andy’s “Day”: Each coordinator’s job is unique. Many of the coordinators focus on admitting students. Also, “My days are never this neat. I spend a lot of time multi-tasking. Yes, I do all these things, but I tend to do them all at the same time.
6:30 AM – My wake up routine is standard. Before I even get out of bed, I grab my iPad and review emails. This is a good time to delete junk, skim announcements of various types, and to look for problems that have popped up overnight. I’m always surprised by the late hours that our online students spend doing homework so it isn’t uncommon for them to email concerns or questions while I’m sleeping. Thankfully, no problems today, but it does pay to check emails this early since a student might be unable to move forward until they get answers.
7:00 AM – Exercise. I sit at a desk all day so it’s vital to walk or go to the gym first thing.
9:00 – 11:00 AM – I get into work. My first task is COFFEE. I try my best to limit interacting with students until I’ve had some coffee. To the best of my knowledge, I’m smarter after my first cup.
This is a quiet time of year – in between the start of the semester and mid-term – so I am able to catch up on email. It is surprising how long it takes to address an email from a student. When I’m really busy, I can be tempted to quickly answer the question the student asks, but it is important to invest time, no matter how simple the question seems. One of the most challenging aspects of my job is reading between the lines of students questions to figure out whether or not they are asking the best possible question.
Today, a student asked if it is too late to drop a class. The simple answer is “Nope, you have until November 21,” but there is so much more to this student’s question. Why do you want to drop the class? How can we get you on a path that allows you to stay in the course? Do you need to hone your time management skills? Have you overestimated the amount of time needed to succeed in an online course? Do you understand the repercussions of dropping? A student email can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an entire morning to answer.
11 AM – noon – Our spring schedule will not be public for a couple more weeks, but we have a number of newly admitted LIS majors who will be starting in January. It’s too early to start advising them, but I need to reach out to them so that they’ll understand what to expect in the coming weeks. Sending emails like this will, hopefully, open up a line of communication between me and them. I want to them to know as early as possible in their UIS experience that I’m available.
Noon- 2:00 PM – Lunch time is not set in stone. I also work with campus-based students, so noon is a good time for them to drop in on their way to lunch. I tend to go to lunch when things have quieted down but, occasionally, 2 o’clock comes, and I haven’t gone to lunch yet so it’s off to the vending machine. Today, I’m out of the office at 12:30 to grab some fast food.
2:00 PM – I spoke with a student about the Engagement Experience requirement. I realize that not every student can fit an internship into an already busy schedule, but I try to encourage internships as much as possible, particularly for students who do not have a lot of work experience. Let’s be practical: we’d all love to get a college degree for the pure joy of learning, but the reality is that we want our degrees to open up career options. It’s important to me that I do my best to help students consider outcomes. Today’s student would like to work in the arts community in her city. We talk about the various organizations in her city and how her skills might serve their goals. She still has some research to do, but after our talk she seemed ready to formulate a plan so that she can begin working with our Internships Services Office.
3:00 PM – It’s time to return phone calls. My phone rings a lot throughout the day but I’m not always able to answer it, either because I’m on the phone or because I have student in my office. My goal is to call students back as quickly as possible but I often have to wait until I can block off time to commit to those conversations. Thankfully, today’s phone messages are all fun – questions about applying to graduate at the end of the fall semester.
Also, like clockwork, the coffee wears off around 3, so I switch to sugar to fuel me through the rest of the day.
4:00 PM – I call Barbara Cass, the coordinator of the online BBA program. She started working with online UIS students shortly after me. It seems strange to think that I’ve been calling on her for more than a decade at this point. Barbara serves as my “am I crazy?” consultant. I can bounce ideas off her and she can tell me whether I’ve come up with a good solution or if I’m crazy. Thankfully, I have no major problems to solve today so my call is just to see how she’s doing and, if she has major problems, to see if she needs my consultation service.
4:30 – 6:00 PM – I get a surge of emails at the end of the day. This is not uncommon since working students are ending their workday and starting to think of the homework they will tackle that evening. It’s important to me that I do my best to answer late afternoon emails before I leave work because not answering them may disrupt the school work students have planned for their evenings. This ends my day at work.
Remember that workloads shift depending upon the time of year. This is a relatively quiet time of year. I tried to focus on what I thought students would want to know.