My Life@Work: Georgina Barratt-See
Welcome to the first edition of My Life @ Work, a brand new feature of our website. Here we will meet…you, and discover more about how your Christian faith shapes your daily work.
Georgina Barratt-See is manager of a student learning program at a university in Sydney. In her role she recruits, trains and mentors around 100 student leaders each semester, running approximately 200 study sessions each week. The program is designed to support students, especially in their first year of university.
What are the particular joys of your work? What do you find most satisfying about it?
I love so many things about my job! I love recruiting new leaders, seeing their confidence and understanding of themselves grow. I love hearing from students who’ve been supported by the program. I love watching leaders graduate with a whole bunch of new skills and confidence. I find it most satisfying when I see students who don’t believe they have any leadership potential nevertheless try and discover ability they didn’t know they had, and in the process grow, develop and change.
What are the challenges? When do you find it most frustrating?
There are multiple challenges in my role. I struggle when we have to fight for external funding. I find it really challenging when students are upset over the program or the leaders or my management. Typically, students get frustrated because they don’t understand that we are trying to build their independence and ability to navigate their university study as an adult. I fully believe that a child will not survive in the modern working world, and so I want to prepare university students for being useful and productive members of society. But the thing I hate most is rejecting good applicants. We interview about two students for every one position. That means I have to reject a lot of good people. That’s hard.
How does your faith shape the way you handle those joys and challenges?
My faith shapes every aspect of my job. Each of my leaders is God’s child so I believe they are worthy and valuable. Each student is God’s child so I also believer they are worthy and valuable too. I try to love and care for my team but also hold them accountable for their actions in a way that I hope Jesus would approve of, speaking the truth in love to them. Sometimes that’s hard, particularly when they betray the trust I have given them. I have had a lot of difficult conversations over the years, encouraging my student leaders to be upright citizens, choosing the right rather than the easy, holding themselves accountable and showing mercy and understanding to others.
What stories can you tell of how you’ve been able to make your faith known in word and deed in the workplace?
I do not specifically refer to my faith directly as that would be against university policy. However I do mention that I am a Christian if it’s appropriate. I see my daily labour as an opportunity to love others in multiple ways, helping my leaders whatever their faith, background, sexuality or ethnicity to choose to be ethical, upright, gentle, patient and careful leaders, helping and serving the people they lead. I see the work that I do as changing lives, not in the way that the Gospel does, but in important human ways. Education changes lives. It doesn’t change our eternal destination, but I believe it’s a powerful social force for good that God has given us. My program helps many students each semester stay at university, and I hope that this translates to productive, useful lifelong service of others.