update: managing a student organization when no one else does any work and you’re stuck doing it all yourself

Remember the letter-writer in March who was running a student organization but getting stuck with all the work because no one else would follow through on their commitments? Here’s the update.

As most people mentioned, this was a problem with a clear end date. Graduation has passed. I finished my thesis and internship, and I got to walk the stage summa cum laude (though technically my final grades put me at magna). I’ve been accepted to the graduate program of my choice and honestly, I feel fantastic!

I did not leave my organization, as some people recommended. When I emailed you originally, I was losing my mind over one specific officer who was failing HARD at his role and giving me a lot of trouble and pushback when I tried to get him back on track. There was a lot of bristling at taking criticism and orders from a peer, but as time went on it became a lot clearer that he didn’t have the skills needed for his job even if he were putting in all the effort. I had a talk with him about respecting my experience and taking orders/corrections in good faith, pushed through our big project, and restricted him from taking on any more for the rest of the semester. I also cut back on certain nonessential things that no one else was putting the time in for.

It stayed really, really hard for a long time, but there’s a happy end! I got an email from a respected local member of my industry who I had met through school and my organization, asking me if I was looking for a job! I had to turn her down due to grad school (down payment was in and it’s what will work best for me right now), but I saw her again at a professional banquet later the same week. After explaining my situation and the complications I’m looking at this summer, she offered me a remote freelancing gig! This is exactly the type of work I need right now, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. I also got lots of recommendations and connections at the banquet for my new city (~2 hours away from my undergrad town).

Sticking with all of my commitments instead of cutting some off sucked. I felt awful for my last month and barely ever slept, but this was one of those situations where it seemed more worth it to push through. I want to especially thank the people here who encouraged me to stick it out and made me feel less crazy for doing so. This time, it was worth it!

Thanks again for your feedback!

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Jillociraptor

    Congratulations! It sounds like you were really proactive and effective at addressing this problem. This is going to make for a really great interview answer for you (which is always the silver lining for handling difficult situations well)!

  2. Amber T

    Oh college organizations, how I don’t miss you. This sounds very familiar to my senior year, and putting in so much time and effort sucked, but in the end it certainly paid off. Got to use it as a highlight in my resume and it was definitely a talking point during my interviews. Great job, OP!! And good luck during grad school!!

  3. Hellanon

    Good for you seeing it through. Sometimes it does suck *hard* while you are in the middle of it, but pushing things like that through a) gets them done & gives you bragging rights, no small thing and b) shows you what you are capable of, also no small thing.

  4. AF

    Awesome update! I’m really glad your hard work has paid off and is being recognized. Best of luck with grad school and your new gig!

  5. Worker Bee (Germany)

    What a great update! Congrats to you OP and best of luck with all your future endeavors!

  6. newlyhr

    congratulations! The experience you gain cannot be bought..it will serve you well.

  7. S.I. Newhouse

    Way to go! It’s always great to hear when hard work that’s seemingly thankless turns out to be worth it in the end. Well deserved.

  8. AnotherTeacher

    It’s great to see this update. I’ve seen similar situations, where some students work so hard and some are simply adding a line on their list of activities. Congratulations and best of luck with grad school and future successes!

  9. Milton Waddams

    Good on you, OP! Sometimes the advice here can veer a bit too much into CYA, as it is a common protective mechanism in the corporate world. College is probably one of the last places where you can just go all out on something and don’t have to worry if your rear end is hanging out. :-) Glad you made it work!

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