Learning to navigate the world beyond Kenyon is an essential part of preparing for life after graduation. Handling conflict that may arise on the job or in a your Bed & Breakfast homestay can be a useful way to gain practice at developing the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and in your personal life. Below are some tips for handling certain problems. Also keep in mind that the Career Development Office (CDO) is always here to help. We can help talk through an issue, offer an outside perspective, and suggest next steps. If necessary, we can also offer to mediate a conflict if it’s with someone from our network. Feel free to contact the CDO to discuss any concerns.
The CDO is open Monday-Friday from 8:30–4:30 p.m. EST. In case of a pressing issues, contact Campus Safety at (740) 427-5000 or (740) 427-5555.
People have different styles of communication and being open to another’s approach, as well as being mindful of your own, can help when entering situations where you’ll be building new relationships. That said, whether you are on the job or in a homestay, it’s easy for miscommunication or misunderstandings to take place. Often communication challenges come from a lack of shared expectations. When you notice a problem with a co-worker, boss, or homestay family member, it’s important to address the situation as soon as possible. Often problems that go unaddressed only get worse with time. You may also want to talk through the situation with another party first, of course without gossiping or triangulating, to gain feedback and additional perspectives. Anytime a direct conversation is needed, you can always contact the CDO for advice on how to approach the situation. Conflict is never easy, but it is very rewarding when you can find a way through it to a stronger relationship and better working or living environment. Some initial steps might include:
On the job
You arrive at your job shadow or internship only to find that what was promised isn’t how your work is being structured. Depending on the situation, you may want to address the issue sooner than later. If you are in a job shadow for just a few days, for example, checking in with your supervisor earlier to check your assumptions might help avoid a short stay doing something other than what you had planned. In an longer internship, however, you may want to be patient and give it a week to see how things change with a little time. In an internship, remember that some routine work is expected, but if you aren’t feeling challenged, demonstrate that you can handle the routine work well, show initiative by asking co-workers if there are projects you could help them with, and eventually ask your supervisor if you could also be a part of some projects that are a bit more demanding and aligned with the learning goals you had for the experience.
If you move into your homestay and the private room you thought you’d have isn’t as private as you had imagined, or the house rules are different than what was discussed, you’ll want to determine if the situation is one that you can be flexible with, or if you want to talk with your host about the issue. Expressing gratitude for the housing offer while also sharing your concerns about what is different than you had planned for, can be a good way to get the conversation started.
When you land in a new situation you’ll be making a number of new relationships. Some people you’ll click with faster than others. You’ll be observing workplace or home dynamics, but remember this is through a new person’s lens. It is recommended that you not take sides, or become embroiled in a situation that may seem easy to judge on the surface. Without the knowledge of prior events that pre-date your arrival, longer-term relationships, and a nuanced history of the dynamic, you likely will not have all the facts. It is better to avoid conversations, gossiping, or interactions that could deepen your involvement in these office or family politics or that could make the situation worse. If asked to weigh in by a colleague or host family member, you could empathize with the frustration someone is feeling without having to agree with their take on the situation. You can also share that because you are new, you don’t feel comfortable having an opinion or discussing the situation.
You are in a new city, taking on a new job, and/or maybe living with a new family. Any one of these could be cause for extra stress. Managing overwhelm starts with not judging yourself for feeling a bit stretched. Some ways to manage stress can include eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, and burning off some of the extra energy through exercise. It’s also important to connect with others. Reach out to friends, family members, or colleagues and ask them for their strategies for getting stress under control. If you are able to identify certain things that are increasing your stress, you can also ask for feedback on how to address a particular issue. If your commute in is taxing you, a co-worker might have an idea on how to make it more manageable; or if your workflow is too much, your supervisor can help you prioritize and determine project due dates. If you’re feeling a bit homesick, a host family member might be able to share where you can do the kinds of activities that you most enjoy whether it’s going to a museum, seeing a moving, or taking in live music. Connect with others, and engage in positive activities that calm you down and bring you enjoyment.
Experiencing discrimination, including sexual harassment, or sexual violence is a serious situation. If while you are on the job or in a homestay you experience discriminatory practices including sexual harassment, or if you experience sexual violence, please know that the College is here to support you. Although Kenyon has no legal jurisdiction over job shadow sponsors, Bed & Breakfast hosts, or most internship employers, the College is prepared to offer you a range of support services and process options.
If you experience discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence immediately contact Samantha Hughes, Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator at Kenyon College at email@example.com or (740) 427-5820. You can also call Kenyon College Safety and Security Office at (740) 427-5000 or (740) 427-5555. Any hour of the day or night, any day of the year, Campus Safety can put you in touch with a member of the Student Affairs Staff who can provide more information on the options available to you. They can also contact a College Counselor to talk with you. If in an emergency situation, please consider seeking medical assistance from the nearest hospital or emergency room. For more information on Title IX resources and policies, click here.