Finding community in your workplace is just one way to enrich your overall working and learning experience. Creating relationships with colleagues, and friendships in the community not only benefits your work life but can reflect a positive personal life as well. Whether this looks like sharing inside jokes with a co-worker, a meaningful conversation with a peer, or a meal with community, these are just some ways to grow your social circle.
My second semester working at the SFU Indigenous Student Centre (ISC) feels a lot different than the previous semester when I worked entirely remotely. Until I began working in-person, I didn’t realize what types of social interactions I was missing out on. I thought that working from home was amazing. I was productive, I got my work done, and at the end of the day, I didn’t have to commute home. All I had to do was close my laptop, and work was over. However, being back in person has taught me that productivity is not the number one goal. It is learning from co-workers, peers and Elders. It is socializing and creating relationships. It is taking care of your own health and wellbeing.
As the Communications Program Assistant at the ISC, my role is to foster community on our online platforms. Although, behind my computer screen is sometimes where I feel most comfortable, it can also be good to step out of my comfort zone. Since being back in-person, I have gotten to know my co-workers so much better. That includes the little things like saying good morning and asking how they are doing or sharing in a meal and casual conversations on a break. Not everything has to be about work, because we all have lives outside of the office
Another way to finding a community in a workplace is to find a job where you are doing something that you enjoy. It is not all about how much money you make. If you are enjoying the work you are doing, it will feel like less of a chore, and can be something you look forward to. If you are passionate about the work you are doing, and share that excitement with co-workers, this can make an overall more positive work environment. This is something that I have been lucky enough to experience for myself because I truly love the work that I am doing at the Indigenous Student Centre. It combines my passion of graphic design and creativity with the chance to support and be involved with my community! Pictured below is an Orange Shirt Day Campaign that I got to lead, while working with co-workers and peers, and while interacting with other community members.
The ISC is a particularly special community and I think I have a very unique opportunity that not everyone will have the chance to experience. Not only do I get to experience this community through the lens of an ISC staff member, but also as an Indigenous student.
Our community is not just the staff working in the ISC every day. It is the Indigenous students that stop by between classes, the Indigenous faculty and staff at SFU who we collaborate with, and our Elders that bring so much insight and joy into our week. It is important to foster these relationships, by sharing in a meal, sharing stories and teaching one another. Through the programs that the ISC offers, we are able to do this.
My personally favourite time of the week is Friday afternoons, because this is when we host Cultural Connections, and can end the week off in a good way. Staff, students and sometimes community members come together to bead, craft and share teachings with one another. This is not only a chance to socialize and share knowledge, but a time to reconnect with our culture. As someone who grew up in the city, not learning their family’s cultural teachings, this has given me the opportunity to learn for myself.
Working at the ISC has provided me with not only a job that I love, but a community that I never want to leave. Getting involved at work and creating a positive work environment can lead to so many meaningful social connections that will benefit you in the long run.