Diving in Head First
October 21, 2013
A First Year Consultant’s Perspective on Working in the UWC
by: Tyler Lane
Starting a new job is always at least somewhat nerve wracking. It’s an uncomfortable feeling (especially for a perfectionist like myself) to be the inexperienced newbie in a room of people who seem to know everything there is to know about the job at hand. This pressure to perform successfully at work is even greater at the University Writing Center since, after all, your client is counting on you to help them make their paper the best it can be. They see consultants as experts on writing, and knowing this made my first official shift at the UWC even more intimidating.
Of course, I wasn’t completely inexperienced on my first day as a consultant. I had spent the previous semester observing and practicing tutoring in the UWC once a week, so I did know what to expect and had even gotten to meet some of my fellow consultants. But it was a totally different feeling going into the UWC as a real consultant. This time I was on my own, with students looking to me as an authority on writing a good paper.
When my first client came in on the day of my first shift, my heart pounded as I introduced myself and tried to maintain the illusion that I knew what I was doing. I breathed a sigh of relief after she told me what assignment she was working on, a personal narrative for her English 1000 class. At least I wouldn’t have the notorious math paper for my very first session! Once I started reading her paper, I felt much more in my element and capable of addressing her concerns. At the end of our session, the client thanked me and said she felt much better after working with me. This was a friendly reminder that I was chosen for this job for a reason, and that my tutoring could only improve from there.
Although this session and many others have helped to boost my confidence, I still feel unsure of myself at times. There are certainly sessions where I have no idea what to do or say, or how to address a client’s specific questions or concerns. But thankfully I work with plenty of great, more experienced consultants who are always willing to help when I get stuck, and I am so grateful for the advice they have been able to offer me. I grow stronger in my tutoring abilities with every session I have, and gain a bit more confidence in myself with every client who leaves a session satisfied.
Despite my overwhelming nerves in my first days as a consultant, I cannot imagine a job I would rather have at this point in my life. There is nothing more gratifying than having a client tell me that I helped them, and that they feel better after working with me. It’s also amazing to have a job where I get to learn something new every day, whether it’s from a client or another consultant. I am beyond excited to continue to improve as a tutor, and to help others gain confidence in their own writing abilities.