This post was written by Joe Martucci, Manager of RU-tv WeatherWatcher.
As I think back upon my life, in the years prior to college, I realize that I possessed the tools to be a leader. However, I was too shy to let it out, nor did not know how to piece it together. In high school, I was used to be general members of clubs or sports teams, watching in bewilderment those above me. I was always a very structured person, I had to make sure that the bed was made and had a set schedule every day. Throwing me off of schedule would drive me crazy. How could I calmly go about my day if I wasn’t able to go to the store if I said I was? I thought to myself. I also believed in organization, I was always very neat, and believed not to disrespect those above you. I also realized I was a go-getter. Why put off tomorrow what you could do today, I would think to myself. In my pre-driving days, my mom and I would quarrel over going places right away, instead of waiting a few hours.
While all of these things are good, they could also hurt. Freshman year of college, I barely sleep some nights because I needed to get done that reading that wasn’t due for two days, because I told myself I would do it. Today. Being a part of the Rutgers Television Network’s (RU-tv) WeatherWatcher Living Learning Community (WWLLC), I would learn the reality that life is not black and white, it is shades of gray. It would be these shades that I was fighting my whole freshman year. Looking back now, I think it was because I was so caught up in my own world, that I didn’t bother to see what was around me. I had friends freshman year, but was still waiting to break out of my shell. It wasn’t until my sophomore year, that things would turn around.
My first experience in a “real” workplace (I was an am still a USA Hockey Referee), was at RU-tv my spring semester of sophomore year. At this point in time, I broke out of my shell, I had acquaintances, who I would just say hi to, and friends. I was put in charge of developing a 1-minute news clip that RU-info would produce about events going on around campus. My first few weeks, I was in my own world, trying to figure out everything myself, but with little progress. I never felt at such a wall in a working environment before. Then I started to realize that if I blended my personal life with work life, that things could work out. I started going up and getting to know people and after a while, asked other for help. With my tunnel vision mindset, I never thought to blend my more personable personal life, with my “do-it-myself” work life. While the project was never completed, I realized that blending sides of my life together could work out.
After my sophomore year, I applied, and received the position of Associate’s Producer of WeatherWatcher, working under a student Lead Producer, as well as full time staff. Turns out, that the Lead Producer, Alyssa, just happened to be one of my good friends and was the Floor Leader for the WWLLC my freshman year. The other Associate Producer lived next to me in the WWLLC freshman year. Junior year working at RU-tv, had some minor bumps, however, things worked out nicely. Our friendship squashed many quarrels we had at RU-tv and were on the same page for many problems. The associate producer, Scott, and I, were on the same level and were delegated different tasks, so there was not much that would be discussed, other than keeping each other in the loop. I became good friends with the Floor Leader that year, too. Going into senior year, I would become the Lead Producer and was excited to use my go-getter attitude and organization to take WW better than it ever had been. Scott would be Associate’s Producer, last year’s floor leader now became our special initiative supervisor and we would have two new floor leaders.
Starting off the summer and the semester, things picked up just where they left off. We all had a large goal in mind (which I don’t want to share to ruin the surprise, you will have to watch our forecast come 2013-14!) and all worked together toward that goal. I was becoming known as a pretty social guy and used that to talk to those higher up in the Rutgers Community and elsewhere, to get things done. Outside of work, we would hang out and became just as good friends, as we were workers. I now was able to clean up and organize all of the computer files we had for WW, something I was waiting to do for a while. I had the nickname “pit-bull” with my supervisor because I would try to complete something, no matter how hard it would be, reminiscent of all those missed hours of sleep freshman year (though better rested). There were a few times I had to be brought into my supervisor’s office to be told to stop, or face repercussions (that being said we had a great working relationship and we still keep in touch, even though he took another job). However, it was after this that I realized that the leadership role would
As a side note, academically, I took a position as events coordinator for the meteorology club, which made me in charge of planning trips and meetings. Our Fall trip last year was all planned and booked, however, we found out that the week before the trip, Rutgers said that the trip was not approved and our E-board, all of whom I was friends with, did not have the funds to go so soon. Getting final answers from people to pick a date for the trip and whether they would attend or not could get frustrating but now changing the date?! The me a few years ago would have probably went crazy inside, but this time? It barely bothered me. Things happen that are outside of my control, we just picked up and went a different weekend and it went great. I then realized that you just need to go with the flow of things, even if you do not realize it. People told me throughout college that I was very laid back and chill and I would laugh because I didn?t think so. I suppose this was the doubting Thomas moment of my life.
Going back to WeatherWatcher, in October, our special initiative supervisor missed a shift. It was up to me to discipline him. While part of the job is discipline, I never had to do it to someone I would invite over my place on the weekends. A few months later, our special initiatives supervisor quit, to take a job elsewhere, during a meeting we all had. I was shocked and disappointed, how could my friend do this to me? Why didn?t he tell me first? I was confused as to what to do. We eventually switched our leadership around to accommodate for this but the burn was still there.
In the spring semester, a WeatherWatcher was breaking part of our contract that they had to sign, resulting in a verbal warning. However, this wasn?t any member; it was someone I lived with. Not doing something would set a precedent for similar things to happen in the future, while saying something may cause our personal relationship to be awkward. We talked and it went pretty well, he understood what happened and it hasn?t happened again yet. It was really after this moment, when I came to a realization. You cannot mix and match different parts of your life together. Your work life, personal life and academic life is very intertwined in college, being with the same group of people 24/7/365. However, it is up to you to make sure what is really important do not bleed into other aspects of your life.
A truth that is tough to deal with your freshman year is that Rutgers is a big place; you put in what you get out of it. Talking to professors, catching up on missed work is up to you to take care of with the countless amounts of tools at your disposure. You grow up fast here. It may have taken me until my senior year, but I believe Rutgers makes people at this college a mature person, not the workplace after it. With this maturity, I was able to take a step back and realize that leaderships requires making sure all of the pieces work to be productive and to be productive, you need to put certain things behind. While I do believe that being a leader of people is difficult, it is even more difficult when your relationship with said person goes beyond the workplace, into your homes and schoolwork. That being said, I don’t believe the phrase never do business with your family (friends for this point) is true. Friendship can foster productivity, because of the chemistry already there and the opportunity to discuss work after the work day is done.
I now accept and understand why our special initiatives supervisor left and wish him the best. His leaving does not even come to thought when our friendship is involved and will be still a friend of mine. I now no longer fear saying things that may not be accepted on a business level, because we are all working together for the same goal. If there is one lesson I have learned in my four years at Rutgers, it is to make sure to switch mindsets after you leave those office doors and the worst thing to fear, is fear itself.