When I started working as the Digital Community Coordinator at Ontario Tech University, my position was brand new. This meant two things:

  1. I had the opportunity to shape the work that I do and the way that this position can function.
  2. Other than my boss and myself, no one knew what my job actually was (and truthfully, sometimes neither of us knew).

I manage my department’s social media (@otstudentlife) and our Digital Community, a website built for student storytelling. When working in web or social media in a department where these positions and platforms are relatively new, our jobs can be confusing to other people. This lack of understanding, for me, meant that my work sometimes felt undervalued, and that I had to build trust with the people that I work with.

My manager emphasizes, “Communications is all about relationship-building”. In the past year, I have had to learn to navigate relationships despite people not
understanding the work that I do. In this session, I will share some of the strategies that I have learned to say “no”, build relationships, and gain trust in order to navigate staff politics and protect authentic and creative space for my team and our students.