Finding Flow: Harmonizing Life and Career

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EDUCAUSE Rising Voices | Season 2, Episode 2

Balancing work and life can be particularly challenging for higher education professionals now that many are working from home or in a hybrid environment. This podcast episode explores a variety of approaches and philosophies for improving work-life balance.

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Charron Andrus: Yes, I love my work. I love work. It's something that I enjoy doing. I enjoy working with people, bringing them together, getting things done, bettering our university, but work is not as important to me as my life. And so I like that idea. It's not a balance, it's a flow.

Sarah Buszka: Welcome to the EDUCAUSE Rising Voices podcast, where we amplify the voices of young professionals. My name is Sarah and I'm joined by my co-host,

Wes Johnson: Wes Johnson,

Sarah Buszka: And we're part of the EDUCAUSE Young Advisory Committee and we're your co-host of the show to kick us off. We are so excited today to talk about a topic that has been very apropos for young professionals, especially given the show's recent hiatus because of spring break and other scheduling challenges. We're talking about young professionals under pressure today, and we're joined by two fabulous guests, Leslie Jeko and Charron Andrus. So before we kick off, I'd like to welcome our guests and ask each of you to introduce yourselves. Please give us your name, a brief intro, your position, institution, and what you think your superpower is. Leslie, kick us off.

Leslie Mojeiko: Okay, sure. My name's Leslie Mojeiko. I'm an instructional designer at the University of Florida. I've been in higher ed for about 15 years and I'm the chair of the Young Professional Advisory Committee right now. Superpower, I would say probably curiosity. I am just so fascinated by the world around me and I constantly am amazed at how much I don't know. And so I'm eating up every book I read and amazed at the history and the science that I wasn't taught growing up and just, I think Sarah, this, I get Snapple facts delivered to my phone every day because I just am fascinated by this world. So I would definitely say that's my superpower.

Sarah Buszka: I love that. And yes, I do know that.

Leslie Mojeiko: Yeah, I talk about it.

Sarah Buszka: You do. Thank you, Leslie. Sharon, please introduce yourself.

Charron Andrus: Yeah, it's good morning. Charron Andrus. I am the Associate Chief Information Security Officer at the University of California Berkeley, also known as Cal. For those who don't know that they're one and same.

Charron Andrus: And it's funny, my superpower for a long time I would tell people my superpower was getting things done. If you gave it to me, we're going to get it done. We are going get it over the finish line, even if it was on fire when you gave it to me. But in the last couple years, I've kind of changed my thoughts about that. It's like, yeah, that's something I do, but is that really my superpower? And so I think for me it's really people. My superpower is connecting people. It's understanding what people are going through. People love to talk to me, tell me their problems, which is really interesting as a slightly introverted person, like Stranger Danger. But people are just drawn to me. And so I think that my superpower is all the things people and how we work together and how we bring forward our humanity in our work and our day-to-day work.

Sarah Buszka: I love. That's wonderful. Yeah, I love it. We have some amazing superpowers on this show today. Thank you all. So before we dive in, I want to set a little bit of context for this episode and what we're discussing today. This really started actually with a conversation between Leslie and I. However, Wes, many of us in the Young Professionals Advisory Committee and beyond have kind of been talking about this topic of just feeling under pressure, but what does that really mean and how do we talk about it more openly, honestly, and with more vulnerability? In preparing for this episode, I did a little bit of research, so I'm going to read some of these facts that I found that I want to share and maybe set the stage for some of our conversations. But I found a study by Bain and Company, which found that an increasing number of millennials and Gen Z workers, 61% exactly, are more stressed and overwhelmed and in danger of burnout at work compared to 40% of those who are 35 and above.

Sarah Buszka: And what are they most worried about? According to this study, they're most worried about finances, job security, and failing to meet their career goals in the next 10 years. And I think all of us, I get the goosebumps when I say that because I think so many of us right now are kind of in the thick of it with our careers. We are right in that point where things are ramping up, where we're really trying our best to set the stage for the rest of our lives. And this episode is not to say that folks who are above 35 or above 40 or even below that aren't feeling that. It's really meant to just give us credence and a voice to talk about some of the unique stressors that young professionals are experiencing for today. So with that, I'm going to kick us off into our first question, just out of curiosity, just to kind of get things going. But I'm curious from, maybe I'll have Sharon and go first, many young professionals really struggle with what we've just described and all of these demands of life and these stressors, and it's hard to say no to things when we're really trying to set ourselves up for success. So could you maybe share with us a time where you felt pressured maybe to say yes to everything and how you eventually established boundaries or how you say no and how you really manage this pressure effectively?

Charron Andrus: Yeah, absolutely. It's such an interesting thing because I'm on the 35 and above I, the ducks 45 and above. I'm really above, but I definitely relate as someone, we were all at some point young professionals, Wes and I had that conversation. I was like, I'm not a young professional. He's like, wow, at one point you were. And I was like, true. I can recall that to that. But I think for me as a black woman, as a woman who comes from a family that is very much about, you're going to go and do more than the previous generation, and there's those expectations, I think something that I learned very early was that if opportunities were presented, you take them because you don't know if those opportunities are going to come back around your way. It's not guaranteed. And so I think I came into my career very much with that kind of work ethic.

Charron Andrus: It was like if there's an opportunity, you take it. You don't say no, it doesn't matter if you don't have time, it doesn't matter if it's not even your area of expertise, you just take it because that might be the only opportunity you get. The only chance you get to show that, Hey, I'm here. I want to do more. I want to be more. And so for many years I was just running myself ragged because it was like you have to say yes to everything. That's the way you're going to go up in your career. I think for me, it wasn't until I hit my thirties that I've said, you know what? One, I want to step back and I really want to be intentional about my career and not just take opportunities and promotions just because they're give it to me. Do I really even want that thing?

Charron Andrus: Is that really important to me? So it wasn't until I was in my thirties while after I had my son that I started to think more intentionally about things and start to say, it's okay to say no to stuff that opportunities will still make themselves present, that I don't have to burn myself out to be successful. And honestly, what does success mean to me? And that was a big shift because once I started to say, well, what does success actually look like to me, it was much easier to say no to things, to set boundaries around my schedule, both when I start work, when I stop work. And I think as a whole, it has made me a better manager. It's made me a better colleague because I bring those things forward with me when I engage with people and my expectations about what their boundaries and that the fact that they should have them and it's okay, and I want to encourage them to, I bring that forward.

Charron Andrus: And I think it's all because I had to go through that. I'm working myself 14 hours a day. I'm working on the weekends, I'm working at night. I'm saying yes to every committee, every advisory group I'm on, everything. And people are like, this doesn't even have anything to do with it. And Sharon's on that group, it's like I was just saying yes to everything with no regard to my wellbeing or my happiness. And it was out my mid thirties where I started to think about just internally, what is important to me? What is happiness? What is success? And then those things colored my approach to saying no and setting up boundaries. And West knows I'm really good with people set boundaries, but then people just walk over. I'm really good. My boundaries are set. That's it. And that's all on that.

Sarah Buszka: That sounds like another superpower.

Wes Johnson: Yeah, for sure. So full disclosure for folks listening and watching, I get the pleasure, the honor of working with Sharon on a regular basis at uc, Berkeley, and she kind of just gave me the AlleyOOP because I was about to go there. So Sharon, you said when you hit your thirties, it's kind of when you had that moment to check in and say, you know what? I don't have to say yes to every single thing. I got other priorities with success to me. Can you talk a little bit about what's that been like since then? Have you had to check back in? Do you think you've done a fairly good job in review, tell you now, if I were to write the opening speech for the Sharan Award at the end of the year, and it was over the last two years for the general person, me included, I would say, wow, she still did a whole lot of stuff.

Charron Andrus: And I guess for everybody it's different. So my level of production and my level of what I'm engaged in, other people would be like, I'm at my max just looking at you. But for me, this is less. This is a much slower pace of life. I log off at five o'clock, I don't work on the weekends. I'm insecurity. So there is a rare occasion that there is a literal fire in someone is we need to put them out. But other than that, like I said, I set my boundaries and I really focused on what I think is important, which for me is my family and myself, and then everything else comes after that. I can't give my organization, I can't give the groups and committees that I'm passionate about anything if I don't have anything. And so I really focus on that. But yes, I do do a lot. I am involved in a lot of things, but they're all things that are important to me that I think are critical areas that I want to see movement in, particularly around diversity in technology. So I saved my energy for those things, and I have set boundaries around other things to say, you can only have so much because I need it for these other things. But yeah, I do a lot of stuff. Thanks a lot for reminding.

Sarah Buszka: So switching gears a little bit, Leslie, I'm curious from your lens, we just heard some really great strategies of course from Sharon. However, I'm thinking for you, since you've taken my place leading the Ypac now and I know how much of a commitment that alone is, let alone everything else that I know that you do at the University of Florida. How do you manage feeling over committed or saying yes to everything? How do you kind of establish those boundaries and how do you manage this pressure?

Leslie Mojeiko: I don't know if I've figured it out quite yet, if I'm being transparent. I do have moments where I'm like, yes, I am thinking about myself here and I'm doing what's right. But there are so many moments where I really focus on, I think people pleasing and wanting to be there for everyone around me. So I will say yes if I know it will help someone, if it supports them and I along the way, forget what am I saying yes to me for what am I giving myself? I have days where I'm not able to do some simple tasks that I would like to do to stay focused and be present, and we're not even talking about yet when I go home to my children and do the other parts of my world. So yeah, I do have moments where I feel like there's a lot because I'm trying to, like Sharon said, trying to prove myself, show I'm capable.

Leslie Mojeiko: I think young professionals too have so many layers of complexity to their identity at this point where not only you're trying to prove yourself, but you're balancing starting a family or maybe purchasing your first home. You're advocating and getting involved in social unrest in the world, and what can you do to make this place better? Because some days it stinks. So all of these layers of complexity that I think young professionals have to carry and then prove yourself and be present. So for me personally, I do make sure I'm my own advocate. I talk to my supervisor and my check-ins, and I'm very clear about where I need support or what's on my plate because if the people around me don't know what I'm handling, then it's just going to get worse. I also do a very young professional thing. I see this in memes all the time online that, oh, millennials or Gen Z, they always have to treat themselves for everything. And I do at the end of every month, I treat myself to a book because every month it's like there's so much to do and I want that book at the end of the month. So for me, I do treat myself that helps. But yes, being your own advocate I think is important.

Sarah Buszka: Yeah, I love that. I'm just picturing you treating yourself to a book.

Leslie Mojeiko: Yes. I think I do it more than once a month, but that's the specific book for making it through the month.

Sarah Buszka: That's a really good point too that you made about being your own advocate. And I really sense that also from you too, Sharon, and what you're saying, just knowing how you define your success. So I'm curious if y'all have any strategies or tactics to share with our listeners on how to be your best advocate and perhaps how to define success. What is the first step someone could take if they're trying to do that? What does that look like in practice for you, Leslie, first maybe.

Leslie Mojeiko: Okay. I loved something that Sharon said earlier that was about asking yourself what is important to you? Because if you are saying yes to everything and it's not meaningful to you, I'm guilty of doing that in the past. I have some fomo too, fear of missing out where I think I better be involved in everything. You don't know what you're going to miss. But I love this new concept called Romo, which is relief of missing out. You tell yourself it's okay to say no because you don't need to be involved in that. But as far as I think, like I said, speaking up to the people around you, even writing out specifics of how much time you're investing in particular projects. And I'm the chair of Ypac and that means nothing to some people at my university. They just don't know what's involved in that. And so I will say how many hours I'm contributing to this and what I'm planning to see in the future from this, what kind of support I need. So just being very clear.

Sarah Buszka: That's great. Thank you.

Charron Andrus: I definitely agree with that, being really clear about what you got on your plate and what your bandwidth is. And when I say what your bandwidth is, sometimes people, especially when it comes to work, they only think about their workload. They don't think about anything else. They don't think about, I got to volunteer at my kids' school. I need to have time to read that book that I'm going to treat myself with at the end of the month. I need time to clean my house. So when I say bandwidth, look at all of your bandwidth. What are you really working with? And then how much of that is for work? How much of that is for personal? And then for that work bucket, what can you really do with what you've got? You know what I mean? And be really brutally honest. It's something that I ask all of my team members to do.

Charron Andrus: It's a conversation that I have with leadership, and I will be honest. I get a lot of pushback about how real I am, about what can we actually get done. I'm not the type of manager or leader that's going to lie and say, we can get this thing that's going to take us six months done in one month. No, I am going to be honest. And I think we have to do that with ourselves too and with all the things that we have to do. And then unfortunately, we're adults. We have to make tough decisions. And sometimes we have to say, if I want to be able to be the chair of Ypac, I'm not going to be able to sit on these five other committees. And that's just the way it is because Ypac is important to me. You know what I mean? And that's an individual thing of really going through and thinking about it and being honest with ourselves because I think most of us want to be successful.

Charron Andrus: We want to do good work, we want to excel. And so we put our pressure on our own selves to go over and above and beyond consistently. It's okay to do it every now and then, but that constant grind is what wears us down mentally, physically. And so we have to be honest with ourselves sometimes and say we're actually doing it to ourselves. No one's really, they're not expecting none of us. They're not doing, they're going home and having dinner with their family, and they're like, why are you still online? And you're like, yeah, I feel like I need to do all the things. So yeah, I think just it's so individual, but just really having those conversations with yourself, with your spouse or family, because many of us are married or in partnerships and what they need is also important. So you might think, oh, I'm doing good.

Charron Andrus: I'm balancing everything. I have good boundaries. And they might be like, no, you are not spending enough of that pie here at home or with me. So yeah, it's so personal, but it's also interesting to me because I love to see when people go from just working to the epiphany of I get to decide what I have to do. It's like epiphany. I get to decide what I do at work, how much effort, how much energy, how much I give to this work thing. I heard, I was listening to a women's panel and she's a professor at uc, Merced, I believe her name is Dr. Martin, and she was talking about the whole idea of work life balance. And she said, I don't want my work life to balance with my personal life. She's like, that's not what I want. I don't want it to have as much weight. I love that. So she talked more about life flow, and I really resonated with that because yes, I love my work. I love work. It's something that I enjoy doing. I enjoy working with people, bringing them together, getting things done, bettering our university, but work is not as important to me as my life. And so I like that idea. It's not a balance, it's a flow.

Wes Johnson: So I'm curious, this is an open question for the group listening to what everyone's saying. I'm thinking back to when I've kind of first got into higher ed, some early twenties, and I remember some of the leaders that I had the pleasure of talking to and kind of asking, like you mentioned Sharon, I want to be successful too, just like most people. So I'm asking them, how did you get to your level or how did you get to your position? And I've heard similar feedback like, Hey, you got to take care of yourself. Watch your energy. You got to take on the things that's going to bring you add something to you. But that means you have to turn down some things to balance all that. But then on the flip side, as a young professional with very little context of what that means, what are some thoughts on this in that you say that, but then when I ask you or anyone here like, Hey, what do you do? I have two ypac chairs. I have one person I know specifically that's been in 20 things. So from the outside looking, you're doing a lot more than I'm doing right

Charron Andrus: Now. That's why we're here. We need therapy. Yeah, yeah. That's your answer. We're doing our own therapy say, because I think this is important because I think some people will look at me and say, oh, Sean, you're very successful in your career. The actual work you do, you have a good job at a good university. But I got here by focusing on things that were important to me that were not tech related. So if you look at the things that I am engaged in, for the most part, there are things that are on the administrative side of the house, things around diversity, things around equity, things about staff advocacy. And so yes, I'm involved in a lot of things, but they're not always technology things. And yet I've still been able to leverage those things to them be successful in my career. Again, I think it's that what is important to you and realizing that just because someone has a certain path and they're like, I am on the architectural review board.

Charron Andrus: I sit on this technology work group, this, and that's their path to success doesn't mean that that has to be your path to success and that you can still get to again, what you have defined as success for yourself through other means. And so I think that's important to note because sometimes people confuse me with the diversity. They're like, oh, you are vice chancellor of diversity and equity, and I'm like, I run security, so you know what I mean? So it's like I decided what was important to me and I put all of my energy and my focus into that, and then I was able to leverage that to then also be successful my career because those relationships come in really handy when you got to do tech stuff on any of this. Yeah,

Leslie Mojeiko: That's such a good point. I do feel like when I think back to the successes I've had so far in my career, it's always around things that I get so excited and passionate about. I've helped develop a service in our office that was based on some of my prior experience in the advising world, but now an instructional design. And I was so invested in it because this was like, I knew it was going to make an impact here. I knew it would help advisors and student learning here, and I got so into it that obviously it went well because I was fully invested, I was motivated. But there are days to where I'm completely demotivated by factors that are out of my control. I live in the state of Florida where the politics aren't always great and it impacts higher education in ways that I'm not allowed to really fix. But it can be tough to come in some days when you feel like a lot of things are out of your control. So I guess I would tell young professionals, if you can channel your energy into the things that excite you and you're passionate about, then success is bound to come your way and that there will be moments where you do feel demotivated and that's normal.

Wes Johnson: Thank. The next question is can you share a personal experience where you felt pressure to conform or fit into a professional environment as a young professional? And then a follow-up is how did you handle that pressure while staying true to yourself and your values?

Leslie Mojeiko: I have an answer, but if you want to go first run, no, go right ahead list.

Wes Johnson: We want to hear both.

Leslie Mojeiko: I felt this a lot. In my first higher ed professional job, I was working in a college of business and I would attend meetings where a lot of the people at the table didn't look anything like me. They were older men who all looked the same. They all kind of dressed the same, and there was a lot of business etiquette and expectations in that role as well. That just isn't who I am. And I found myself at the time, I was Leslie Martinez, and they could never remember my name, which it felt like a simple enough name, but I also was afraid to speak up in that role because I wasn't around anyone who I thought could relate to me or looked like me. And I remember a professor, I was in graduate school at the time, he asked in class that night when I was in one of those meetings, how do we come to higher ed and work through group dynamics and make sure that all the voices are included?

Leslie Mojeiko: Tell us about how you speak up. And I said, I don't speak up. I'm too afraid. I am afraid to say anything because I don't think they even want to hear from me. No one ever asks. And I don't think it's my job to be the one to say, Hey, I need to say something, because I was terrified if I'm being honest. So I now am in an office where the people all come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives, and we can all truly be ourselves because none of us are alike. We get to just decide who is Leslie and they deal with it. So I feel so fortunate to be in a place now where diversity of thought is, at least within our office, it's respected and that all voices are included, and I feel a lot more like myself. I don't know if that really addressed the question, but

Sarah Buszka: No, that's beautiful. I think it did. Yeah. Yeah.

Leslie Mojeiko: Okay, good.

Sarah Buszka: Thank you. I just want to chime in quickly and say, I really appreciate how you are being so honest in saying that you were afraid to speak up. I think many of us, especially young professionals, when we're new, when we don't have a lot of experience, especially if we haven't been able to be around more senior staff, we can feel very isolated and we can also just feel very intimidated. We can feel this weight of everyone's knowledge and everyone knowing so much in the room. And I know nothing when I think for all of us here, I'm laughing because I've had this conversation with Leslie a little bit too. But I think all of us here as we've gotten older, have realized as we've gone to different institutions, sat at different tables, been a part of different committees, I think one of the biggest shocks of my professional life has been learning that people who I thought knew everything may actually not know everything.

Leslie Mojeiko: Yes. Oh, it's the best thing to figure that out.

Sarah Buszka: It was such a relieving thing at first, horrifying. Because I had put so much expectations, and frankly, I've put a lot of my former leaders, even on pedestals, right, thinking that they just knew everything. And if all us failed, so-and-so could just swoop in and rescue us, and they know it all. And what a limiting perspective to have both for yourself and for that person or persons whom you are expecting the world out of. We're all humans at the end of the day. And it's just been one of the most liberating things to learn and why I'm sharing this and saying this to our young professional audience and everyone really is. We don't know everything. No one will know everything, and it's okay. And we can just kind of take some of that pressure off of ourself. And to your point earlier, Sharon, I think we put so much pressure on ourselves and we tell ourselves these kind of crazy narratives too. And I think if we don't check ourselves and we don't talk about it, we can just get really stuck. And it can be a very limiting and actually backfire on our careers when we're trying to work so hard to do everything. If we keep thinking that I'm not enough or everyone else knows everything, or even the converse, I know everything and there's nothing to learn either way, either. Extreme, I think is one of the most limiting mindsets to have. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.

Leslie Mojeiko: One more quick thing. Sharon made a great point earlier that you reach a point in your career where you're like, oh, I get to make some decisions here on what's important to me. That's a turning point. And the other turning point for me was just that where I'm like, oh, these are all humans. Nobody here is a perfected robot that knows everything. We all have things that we need to work on, and that helps me speak up a bit more. I realize that, yeah,

Charron Andrus: We get to create culture. We get to create a culture of who gets to speak up and who feels comfortable to speak up. That's something that actively been working on at all the organizations that I am, that people understand that, like you said, we all work here. We're all humans. And if you're in that room, you have the right to be there, and your voice matters. It doesn't matter what your title is. And you should feel comfortable to raise your hand and say, Hey, I have a thought about what's being discussed from the perspective of the expertise that I'm bringing to the table. And I think that that's something that we have to actively engage in and work on of creating that space in all the departments, all the meetings, because otherwise we do miss out. We miss out on critical important information and sites. If we're saying, oh, okay, if you have this title and below you just sit here and be quiet and you don't get to participate like that, that's going to mean that we're doing less innovative, less thoughtful work because we're not including all the voices that would help us in that. So

Sarah Buszka: It's really

Charron Andrus: Truly important. And then here I come, because if you ask my mother, I have always thought that my opinion was important and that everybody needed to hear it. So I never had that issue. I say, but I'm going to say to who I'm going to sit to.

Leslie Mojeiko: And it's

Charron Andrus: Amazing what is often like, Sean, you want to close the door, what I have to say, I'm going to say some same thing to them, idiot in this room. So it's really, I saw his face, he says it all, I'll just be talking. And he's like, try to even close the door. I'm like, oh, okay, yeah, sure, whatever. But yeah, so I've always been that person. And so when I started my career, I didn't really have that like, oh, I'm afraid to speak or anything like that. But I recognize that that is not everyone's situation. And I, through my career, have always told other people, if you are afraid to talk or if you don't want to say that thing because worried about blow back, tell me because I'll say it. So I'm like, okay, we have to support each other in that. But I did have a very interesting, so I worked in private industry and I worked in clinical, so I never thought I was going to be in technology.

Charron Andrus: This was not the career that of my choosing just happened again, because you take the opportunities, whatever comes, and it happened to be tech. But when I moved from private industry into higher education, I remember very early on, probably within maybe two or three months, I got invited to a meeting and there were some senior level folks in there. And at the time I was an analyst. And again, me being who I am, I'm like, if I'm in the room, they less want to hear what I have to say about these things. So they're talking and I'm talking and I'm giving my input and my thoughts. And I remember one of the men in the room, again, I'm a black woman in tech, higher ed, so there were no black people in the room. There definitely weren't any black women. And I think there might've been one other woman in the room total.

Charron Andrus: And I remember him saying to me, basically, you're not supposed to talk. You're just here to be quiet and take notes. And I said, I get a paycheck just like you get a paycheck, and if I got invited to the meeting, there must be something that I know that you don't know. And everybody was, it was like all the, you are so cool. I love that. And everybody was just like, oh, that's amazing. The meeting continued and I continued to get invited to that meeting. So for me, that was like, okay, and I've approached my career that way, but I think even more importantly, I have approached how I manage people that way. I tell all of my people, if you are there, you have the absolute right to speak up. And actually I expect you to speak up. You're hired because of your expertise. If you don't tell them, how will they know? Then they'll make bad decisions. They still may make bad decisions, but that's a whole other conversation. But that's another podcast episode. Our people. Yeah, exactly. And again, change our culture of about who has a voice and who's important and who gets to chime in. So for me, less about me and more about what then I can do for other people in those who are afraid or who are worried or think that they might get in trouble or not get invited back,

Leslie Mojeiko: It's like, no, I think that's an important point too. It's not just on young professionals, but their supervisors and leaders to make it explicit and transparent that you matter. You're here for a reason. We're here to support you. And that same can apply to finding that balance in your work. It's not if you struggle with saying no, it's good to have leadership around you too that can recognize how can we find balance and support you. So good reminder for all of us

Sarah Buszka: Indeed. Yes. So we're getting kind of close to the top of the hour, but there's one thing I want to sneak in here, pulling another nugget from the study I referenced earlier when I was reading that, another comment was about young professionals speaking up and how young professionals, more than any demographic right now, ask a lot of questions. Specifically the question why? And I think I know most folks here in this call, and we all ask questions, we all ask why. And I think kind of back to your point, Sharon, I think sometimes when young folks come into the workplace and we're asking these questions, why it can be perceived as a negative as why are you questioning us? And it can put folks on the defensive. However, when I was reading the study, it really was focusing on how much young people really need to understand the why behind things.

Sarah Buszka: They really need to see what we're doing, links up to the big picture, what their role is in it, so that they know how they can effectively navigate the organization, know how to speak up, when to speak up, know how they can be effective in meetings, all of those things. So in bringing this up, one as kind of like a tangent to what you were saying, Sharon, because I think it's really important for folks, everyone listening not only young professionals, but the leaders and managers of young professionals and of organizations to know that your young folks are asking these questions and it's for the greater good. It's with good intention, it's with a lens of curiosity. As Leslie referenced, her superpower was at the beginning of the show. I mean, that just underscores it so much is that we're curious and we're not asking questions to elicit any wrongdoing or anything like that.

Sarah Buszka: It's truly because we're curious and we're hungry for knowledge and wanting to learn. So with that being said, a kind of flip side to that is I think young professionals are very much pressured to be the ones who know all the technology things or know the new thing. If something's wrong with of your colleague's computers, you're typically called over to go fix it. That's kind of a stereotype, and I think something that can really pigeonhole us as young professionals. So I'm curious, given both of these sides of this lens to look at this through with young professionals being curious and asking questions, but also being expected to understand all the new technology and AI right now, how do you handle that pressure? And are you being asked at your institutions right now, Hey, what should we do about this? What should we do about that ai, right? Leslie, I'm looking at you specifically because I know

Leslie Mojeiko: Work, work,

Sarah Buszka: Right? But I'm curious for both of you to share, and even Wes too, all of us here, how are you handling that pressure and that expectation to deliver?

Leslie Mojeiko: Maybe this is the wrong answer, but I don't feel a lot of pressure in this area because technology changes every day. So I might make a recommendation one day around AI and teaching and learning and showing what we can do, and then the next day there are new restrictions or new capabilities. And I think you've, if you're working in it, you have to have the mindset that things constantly change and you can depend on that, and that you are open to learning and figuring it out and being clear to the people you support, that we are exploring this, and I can get back with you and I test it more. But yeah, I think also another thing that Sarah, you've seen us do in our office is we do fun trainings around technology to encourage faculty and staff to use it. So I think that's an important factor too, honestly, is fun. We will do these cooking shows to show faculty how you can take AI prompts like recipes and plug it in and build activities and things like that. And it becomes approachable. And people are more apt, I think, to ask questions because they know like, oh, these people, they're approachable. We can talk about it. They're having fun. So yeah, I don't know. I just can rely on change. So it's not too much pressure for me, but maybe I'll feel differently

Sarah Buszka: Or maybe you're managing it very well,

Leslie Mojeiko: Or maybe I'm forgetting something. Whoops.

Charron Andrus: Yeah, I think getting comfortable with the level of ambiguity because things are changing so constantly. Suddenly, I talk to my managers about a lot. So right now we're in budget season and one of my managers is he wants to know all the numbers, all the things for perpetuity. And I'm like, we're never going to have that level of information. We're not going to know what, it's just not possible. And you have to get comfortable with making decisions about things that you don't have all the information on, but still trying to make the best decision that's possible with what you do know and what you think is going to come into the future. And so I think particularly in higher education, technology is like we have a lot of leaders who are not comfortable with ambiguity, and it makes it very difficult for them to make decisions.

Charron Andrus: And so I think that's where you get some of the, well, why are you questioning it? Because they don't have the answers and they're uncomfortable about that. So then when you're asking them stuff, then it's like, don't ask me that. Because now I have to think about all the things that I don't know and the decisions that I'm having to make in the lack of those answers. But I think it's important for everyone, not just young professionals, but everyone to be asking questions and really looking at our processes and understanding the why's and the how's before we make decisions about technology. That's one of my biggest pet peeves as we just throw technology at things and we don't even understand what the business processes are or why someone's doing what they're doing or what their pain points are. And then we're surprised when the technology doesn't fix the issue, but it exacerbates the issue. So I'm all for, again, creating cultures where people can ask questions, that there is time to actually do evaluations and analysis of things before we start buying things or talking about buying things or implementing things. So yeah, I love the idea of more inquisitiveness and more discussions, but not discussion paralysis where you never get past that. That's again, whole other, another podcast. We'll invite you back for you. Find us back.

Charron Andrus: Yeah. And I don't know about the whole young professionals can kind of pigeonholed so they know everything and they can fix everything. I feel like that's a technology thing. It's like once you say, I work in technology, then it's like, can you fix my printer? Can you set up my, I get texts all the time from my mom. No, I can't tell. I too am struggling with my wifi. So yeah, I feel like that's a tech thing. It's like people just think, I remember I used to go to the hospital and at the time I was working enterprise apps and all the doctors would be like, can you fix our label printer? And I'm like, no, no, but I can call the other tech people and they can come fix your label printer. I don't know what we do now, but yeah, I think they just thank your technology. So it just gets exacerbated in-house where it's like you're young. I was listening to your podcast actually yesterday on the ride in and some, I can't remember the episode or the name of the person. Sorry, I'll blame that on old age, gen X. But she mentioned every time they wanted to do some kind of student interfacing or student facing, they pegged her because she was the young professional and she was like, I'm 40.

Sarah Buszka: That was Kate. Yeah,

Charron Andrus: Okay. And I feel like it's the same thing, you know what I mean? It's like I'm young, but I'm not that young. And it's that interesting dynamic of how maybe some older folks view younger people in the institution and don't make that distinction of they're not 18, they're not 20. These are seasoned professionals.

Sarah Buszka: Yeah, we're millennials, at least I am. We have houses, we live in the suburbs. We have kids, we have minivans. We're old, we're not 18. I guess I should frame it that way. We're not children. Yes, we have our own children at this point.

Charron Andrus: But it's like that whole thing is like, okay, if you're not 50 plus, you must be a kid. And it's like, no, there's degrees in here that we need to

Sarah Buszka: Consider. Yes. And I think we also just had our first full circle moment where one of our guests on our podcast reference one of our earlier episodes of listening to our podcast. So I just want to celebrate that. Thank you. We made it. Well, I know we're at the top of the hour, folks, so this has been just an incredible conversation. Thank you both, Leslie and Sharon, so much for being here, for sharing your wisdom and knowledge. Yes. We will invite you to future episodes, please. Thank you for having us. Of course, of course. So before we close out, I want to invite my co-host, Wes, to say any final words.

Wes Johnson: So I want to call back to something this I, I'm going to close it out this time. So Leslie mentioned that no one knows everything, which made me think, what will your life be like if you did, if you were the one who knew everything? And the closest thing I could think of was Google and Google processes 8.5 billion searches daily. So if you truly do everything, imagine a life of taking in and responding to somewhere around 8 billion questions a day. Oh,

Sarah Buszka: Your

Wes Johnson: Headache once to know everything.

Sarah Buszka: It does sound

Wes Johnson: Like a great life. Got

Charron Andrus: To boundaries, mess about what you're going to answer and not answer boundaries

Wes Johnson: To know it and to not answer that 8 billion times, that's a lot of boundaries.

Sarah Buszka: It's an amazing fact that we learned today. Thank you, Wes. Yes, thank you. Wes. Yes. So I'm grateful that I'm still learning. Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Sarah. Oh, go ahead. No, please. No, just I'm grateful that we will never know everything, and that's what I think keeps us going. Exactly, yes. The pursuit of knowledge, which is why we're all here and why we're really excited for some upcoming podcast episodes as well. So thank you all so much for this incredible discussion today.

End Credit: This episode was produced by Gerry Bayne, Chris Bradney, and Joseph Caudle, with help from Ryan Lahti and Monica Rosen. Our music is from Wes Johnson. Please find us on the EDUCAUSE platform, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to subscribe and rate us. Also, email us at [email protected].

This episode features:

Charron Andrus
Associate Chief Information Security Officer
University of California, Berkeley

Leslie Mojeiko
Instructional Designer
University of Florida

Sarah J. Buszka
Senior Relationship Manager
Stanford University

Wes Johnson
Executive Director Campus IT Experience
University of California, Berkeley