The nomination period for the 2020/2021 MSA Board of Directors (elected positions) officially kicked off on Jan. 20 and will be ending on the 31st of the month. During this time, the MSA will be releasing four blog posts outlining each position that students can run for.
These blog posts will give those who are interested in running more of an idea of what a typical shift looks for each Board Member.
In the first blog post in the series we looked at what a typical shift looks like for Gregory McNeish – the current MSA Vice President, Finance. Now, let’s see what Garret Blair – the Vice President, Internal Advocacy – gets up to on a day-to-day basis.
Garret Blair is the current Vice President, Internal Advocacy at the MSA.
How would you describe your role at the MSA?
“My job, I like to describe it as I represent everything within the MSA in MSA space. What that means is I handle the Student Representative Committees that are brand new, I handle a lot of internal stuff, and I handle a lot of Academic Appeals when they come to me.”
How do you work to achieve the demands of your job on a daily basis?
“One of the things that I have learned since I’ve been here is the importance of time management. Something that I really strive for is I come in, and the first thing I do is check my emails to see who needs help, if there’s a committee I’m sitting on that needs an idea, an answer, even if there’s a bit of an issue that’s come up. I also work with my team which includes the Vice President, External, and the Board of Directors, to go over Advocacy both internal and external, as well as the Student Representative Committees to try and improve them. I never want to be stagnant.”
How does your job change when you’re working with students at different campuses?
“It’s cool to go all of the campuses because there’s such a unique culture at all of them. Something I have always thought was to approach any situation with an open mind and let the student with the issue do more of the talking. Because I’m a Fennell student I know a little bit more about Fennell and how solutions get passed here. If there was ever a problem at Stoney Creek or the IAHS campus, for me it’s about connecting them [students] with the right person so they don’t have to run around to come up with a hopefully simplistic answer.”
How often do you go to a different campus?
“As per my contract, I alternate every week. So, because Fennell is my primary campus, that’s where I work out of probably 60 per cent of the time. But there’s one day in the week where I dedicate to going to Stoney Creek, the next week I dedicate to going to IAHS, and then we flip. And then, I’m there as needed, when needed – if Stoney Creek has an event, I might be there twice two in consecutive weeks. I pride myself on going to all different campuses and being available to all students.”
When it comes to being available to all students, Blair does not just stop at seeing students during typical hours. As with many of the MSA Board Members, it is not uncommon for Blair to put in more than the minimum of 20 hours a week.
“There are times that I’m here till 8 or 9 p.m. because students have knocked on our door at 7:30 p.m. because classes are still running and there’s been an issue, they’ve wanted to talk, etc,” Blair said. “I always try to make myself available at even those uncommon hours – just because the MSA shuts down doesn’t mean that students’ concerns stop.”
How do you manage your job while also managing your student life?
“This is the best decision I ever made. It takes time management but for people that are considering running, next year for any of our positions or want to be hired on as a Director, it is not overbearing. The MSA is so great at giving you a student work-life balance. It gets you involved, it gets you engaged, it brings you to meet new people – the networking opportunities I’ve gotten have been absolutely amazing, so it’s really good with balancing my school-work life.”
What does a typical shift look like for you?
“It’s interesting because I don’t think I have a typical shift. When I show up, there’s obviously stuff I do throughout the shift that’s pretty consistent – I always check my emails, I always just say hi to any staff, I typically chit-chat with Sheldon – the President – to go over a couple things that maybe I’m not clear on, I pop down and see the Executive Director to see how he’s doing.”
“That part for me remains the same but there are times I come into the office and there’s a meeting that I have to go to. So, my whole plan for that day has been re-jigged because I have to go to a meeting, sometimes we have a Board meeting and I have to prep for that ahead of time. My day in the office, if I could have a sweeping generalization is I come in, say my hellos for about five minutes, then I sit down and start answering emails, working on Student Representative Committees, and I just keep my eye and ear out if a student has any questions, comments, or concerns, meetings as required. And typically, when I’m supposed to go home, I stay for a little bit longer anyways.”
Click here for more information, including the job description and requirements, if you’re interested in running for the Vice President, Internal Advocacy position.
Written by: Paige Petrovsky
Some comments have been edited for clarity.