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From Doubt to Triumph: Navigating Challenges as a New Instructor

Starting a full-time job can be a mix of excitement and nervousness. I vividly remember my first foray into the world of employment as an instructor, 16 years ago. Little did I know that this experience would teach me profound lessons about perseverance, passion, and the ability to overcome challenges.


Walking into the faculty offices on that crisp morning, I couldn't help but feel a flutter of anxiety. A sea of cubicles greeted me, and I found myself a spot to settle into. I wasn't alone; a couple of other instructors were working around me. As I was trying to blend in, one of my colleagues dropped a remark that stayed with me: "the last instructor who sat at that exact cubicle didn't last very long." Those words, though seemingly innocent, held an implicit challenge. It was as if I was being told that I had big shoes to fill and that I might not measure up.


This ominous introduction could have easily discouraged me, but I chose to take it as motivation. During my first year on the job, I was determined to prove myself. I focused on honing my teaching skills, connecting with students, and creating engaging lesson plans. Slowly but surely, I began to see the results of my efforts. Students started responding positively to my classes, and the positive feedback started pouring in.


As the months rolled on, I wasn't content with just being an instructor; I wanted to contribute more. My dedication and hard work caught the attention of my superiors, and I was given the opportunity to step into the role of a lead instructor. This promotion was a testament to the progress I had made and the impact I had on both my students and colleagues.


My journey wasn't without its fair share of challenges. The experience of facing gatekeeping and limited support wasn't unique to my first job. Unfortunately, academia can sometimes be riddled with such issues. But I refused to be held back by these obstacles. Instead, I used them as stepping stones to push myself further. Every time someone told me a project was too ambitious or that I should start from scratch with minimal guidance, I saw it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.


Looking back on my journey, I've learned a valuable lesson: passion and determination can propel you beyond any challenge. It's easy to get bogged down by negative comments or lack of support, but if you truly love what you do, these obstacles can be turned into catalysts for growth. My experience as an instructor taught me that excellence isn't handed to you; it's earned through hard work, perseverance, and a genuine passion for your craft.


From that apprehensive first day to becoming an associate professor today, my journey was a testament to the power of dedication and passion. Through the hurdles of gatekeeping and limited support, I emerged stronger and more determined than ever. So, to anyone starting out in their careers, remember that setbacks are merely stepping stones, and your love for what you do can propel you to achieve greatness.

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