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- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
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- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Organizational culture is something that is very important to consider when
you are looking for an employment opportunity. Organizational culture can
drastically effect how much you like your job and how long you will stay with
your job. I have worked in the Campus Visits department at the Office of
Admissions for a little over a year now and have a good understanding of the
organizational culture that we have. The organizational culture of this job
suits my needs, wants, and expectations very well.
Sociability within our office is very high. Approximately 50 students are
employed in the office and most students know most or all of the other students
working there. Many of the students in my department get together on the
weekends to do various social events. Sociability is not limited to the student
workers. Every Friday a department is responsible for bringing in snacks and
drinks to our break room where everyone in the office is welcome to go back to
the room and enjoy them, while socializing of course. It is not uncommon for
both student workers and full time staff to sit and talk about non-work related
subjects for up to hours at a time when things are slow and there’s no work to
The power distribution and job autonomy of the office is clear-cut with many
different levels. The student workers, of course, are at the bottom power level.
Every department has one or two students who are “undergraduate assistants”
and have authority over the other students in that department. There is a single
“director of admissions” who is in charge of the whole office. The power
level directly beneath the director of admissions is the assistant director of
admissions. There are a total of eight assistant directors of admissions, one
for each department. The departments include the following: New Student
Enrollment, Campus Visits, Processing, Honors Recruitment, Eastern Recruitment,
Western/Central Recruitment, National Recruitment, and Minority Recruitment. In
our department, the assistant director also has her own assistant, who ranks
directly above myself and the other undergraduate assistant, Todd. Todd and I
have fifteen students that we are responsible for delegating responsibility to.
As a mentioned earlier, there are titles and certain responsibilities given
to employees, but the degree of structure isn’t as high as it might first
appear. Crossing over “department lines” is very common and somewhat
necessary. One example of this is Red Letter Days. Red Letter Days are the
responsibility of our department, Campus Visits. Though we are the largest
department with about 20 employees, it would be virtually impossible for us to
host the 800 or more people that attend any given Red Letter Day. All of the
recruiting departments help us out on these days by simply filling in the gaps
where we need help. In return, we help them with their work when they need help.
The degree of structure is much higher when it comes to certain policies. For
example, a student in our department may have to look at the computer records of
60 different students when preparing information, but if just one student’s
information is accessed without purpose, the student employee would be fired
without further explanation.
Achievement awards is an element of our office’s culture that could use
some improvement. Monetary awards do not exist at any level. Our boss is pretty
good about giving praise where it’s due, but she can’t do anything about our
pay. Every student starts at $5.65 per hour, and, regardless of job performance,
won’t receive a raise until they have worked for a full year.
The final element of organizational culture I will discuss is tolerance for
risk and change. Our work environment is not only tolerant for change, change is
highly encouraged. We are constantly evaluating and changing our procedures for
doing things. Every visitor to the campus is asked to fill out an evaluation,
which is in turn used to help us improve. An example of a fairly recent change
just took place this semester. We used to have about eight students come in at
about nine in the morning. Maybe two or three of these would give a tour, and
the rest would all be around the office doing many different, random tasks. It
is now more structure so that certain individuals are assigned specifically to
give tours, answer the phone, or work on making folders. We have found this to
be more efficient and result in fewer mistakes.
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Corporatism, Human resource management, Industrial and organizational psychology, Labour law, Organizational culture, University and college admission
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