Jobs 5

University student administration

In the summer after I finished work as a school teacher and started my law degree, I obtained temporary work at the University of Sydney in the office of the Faculty of Arts .  I’m a bit vague about this, but I think I also did some work for the Faculty of Science.  The next year, I again worked in admin, and this time I am pretty sure it was for the Faculty of Science.

These were seasonal jobs, to cope with the rush of post-exam and pre-enrolment business at the Faculties.  I think I was first introduced to them through H, with whom I had shared a house in 1987, and who had permanent work in one or other of these faculties (certainly, the Faculty of Science, on the second occasion).

I probably put H’s nose out of joint when the Secretary to the Faculty of Science gave acting higher duties to me, even though I was only a temporary employee.

I don’t know if I have anything very interesting to relate about these jobs: they didn’t last long, and their principal point of interest was the opportunity to see things from the other side of the counter.  Sure, you could look up your academic record and find out the marks (when I was first a student, you only learnt the grades) and there was some temptation to look up those of others.   A lot of our time was spent guiding students and potential students through the incredibly labyrinthine by-laws: these conversations could often be very protracted indeed, probably because I was being just too helpful.

In bureacratic terms, the university was its own little world: much smaller than the Departments of Administrative Services or the  Special Minister of State.  It was quite a nice place to work and a fair number of my fellow employees (and not just the temporary ones) were working their way through degrees.  By the second year I was there, corporatism was beginning to intrude: budgetary systems were being implemented which transformed the faculties into rudimentary business units, and the Dean of Science even had a “company car.”

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