What roles have you had throughout your time at Berkeley and how did you know when it was time to move to a new position?
My first staff appointment at Berkeley was an AAIII and I worked with Visiting Scholars, and then I did payroll and scheduling. That was September 2007. Then I was promoted to a financial analyst for Material Science and Engineering. Then I applied, interviewed, and landed the Student Affairs Officer (SAO) 2 role. That was a great kind step into Berkeley. I just graduated from Cal so I didn't know what was out there to know what to do. I was there for about 4 years in that role- maybe a little bit over four years, and then I just kind of felt like I outgrew that. I saw, applied, and was offered an SAO 3 position. After 5 years I kind of got an inkling to start looking again. I actually received a job offer in another campus department, but it would be a lateral move so I felt comfortable and safe coming to my division chair and saying, this is what I'm being offered. I really would want to stay in this school. I care about the mission and I care about everything that's happening if you can meet the salary and if you could reclass me to a 4- I’ll stay. They were able to reclass me, and by August 2019 I was ready for another challenge. I applied to an Assistant Director of Graduate Student Services position in the Department of Economics, and have been there since mid-November 2019.
What factors do you think helped you switch positions successfully within Berkeley?
Going from an AAIII to a SAO 2 in a relatively short amount of time was helped by the fact that I was already in that department. I was already in the know. I already knew the students, the faculty, and the staff. Then in terms of moving from A3 to A4 - I had been at the school for a little over 5 years at that point. I had been on different committees, and I was on the Staff Advisory Council that works together with the Dean's office at the school. I was the chair of the events committee and I ran one of the most populated student programs in the division. I definitely advocated for myself and developed relationships with key people that could then advocate for me as well.
You were a participant in the highly selective Leadership and Career Enhancement Program for Staff of Color (LCEP). What was the biggest lesson you learned in LCEP and how has it impacted you?
My LCEP experience was great. I was in the first official non-pilot cohort and it just got me out of my comfort zone. The biggest lesson learned is that professional development and professional growth didn’t just happen where I was at that point. It helped me learn that everything can be very career growth oriented. You have to come in and have an idea of the things that you want to do and to take steps towards it. To be your own best advocate and lean on folks with more power, or just more visibility, to help you on your journey as well.
What do you do to keep growing as a professional?
There’s a student affairs student advising resources group that all of our student facing staff can really utilize to problem-solve, do case studies, and use the tools of each other. Really kind of network with each other. We meet once a month and that's been around for a while but it's gone through different iterations. My co-chair and I are really planning to use it as a sounding board and leave room for discussion. A lot of the times when you go to meetings you can barely get through the agenda and there aren't any action items or things that get resolved. I find that having a good amount of time left to discuss some difficult cases and get everybody's brain power together is helpful.
What was the most motivating thing someone told you on your career journey that you think would help others?
It was during my LCEP experience - silencing the negative committee in your own head. Working through some of your own negative feelings and first going to “I can't do that.” Through LCEP they invited us to a breakfast put together by a woman. Her whole workshop on imposter syndrome felt like that applied to everybody- in their own head. And so to be there and really hear this woman who is so accomplished (an attorney, etc.) having the same fears and worries that I also have- it just made me feel like I'm not alone. And we can totally work through this!
Society is sometimes structured to make some people feel part of it and some people feel like they are not part of it. So being reassured that you are part of this community and we need you here really kind of put things into perspective for me. You're supposed to be here right now. Just because you look a certain way or have a certain background doesn’t mean you should or shouldn't be here. This is a community for everybody and you can find your own position.
Any final words of wisdom to staff looking to grow their careers at UC Berkeley?
I would say take a look at the jobs that are available. It doesn't hurt to see what's out there. And for someone like me- I always think of the stereotype of women and when you see something that you can't 100% do you say, oh I'm not even going to apply. The worst thing that they can say is no- and the best time to look for a job is when you have a job. I've been very lucky in the UC system- for all its limitations and positives. We're so lucky to be on this beautiful campus and the beautiful Bay Area. I always remind myself of when I was 17, came here and fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the mission of the university.
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Janene Martinez is the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Services within the Department of Economics. They’ve been a part of the UC Berkeley community for 12 years. To set-up an informational interview e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn.
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