Blog / A Week in the Life of a University Innovation Fellow

One of the most common questions I get asked as a University Innovation Fellow is, “What do you do?” To be fair, it’s not uncommon at ASU to be asked this; as the largest public university in the country with multiple campuses sprawled across the state, it can be challenging and even feel impossible at times to keep track of what everyone does. This is all of course, further compounded by very imaginative and esoteric job titles like, “Knowledge Enterprise Architect”, “Special Advisor to the President for Innovation”, and “University Innovation Fellow”.  

As a result, halfway through my fellowship I still struggle sometimes to translate my job title. This is partly because the Office of University Initiatives (UI) embraces a “building the airplane as you fly” mentality, meaning the work we do is often opaque, amorphous, and in a constant state of flux. Programs build momentum and rapidly mutate at the same rate as they extinguish, and every day we are pushed to not only reimagine but completely upend traditional ways of knowing and doing.

Perhaps though, at the end of the day it's difficult to describe the work we do because it's so far removed from anything else we know, and therefore, there is nothing to really compare it to. This may explain why six months into my fellowship my father still thinks that I am an intern, despite the fact that the UI fellowship is not really like an internship at all. In fact, UI Fellows are mid-level professionals with (in my case, multiple) graduate degrees and the same time and labor benefits as tenured faculty; we don’t fetch coffee and the pay surpasses any post-doctorate position out there, but what do we actually do?

In order to help clarify what it means to truly hold this space and be a UI Fellow, I was asked to log my activities for a full week. So, here it is: 

 Monday:

  • 9:00 AM- 9: 15 AM: Arrived in the office, caught up on emails, and made a to-do list for the day.
  • 9: 15 AM – 10:30 AM: Reviewed and consolidated notes from the American College Health Association Leadership and Innovation Summit I attended in Washington, DC the week before (the cost of which was covered by the professional development funds all fellows are allocated) and created a PowerPoint presentation to share key takeaways and recommendations with UI staff.
  • 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Worked on a comprehensive literature review I composed on leadership theory and praxis for the Next Generation Service Corp (NGSC) to guide program evaluation and curriculum development.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Ate lunch with the other fellows.
  • 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Continued working on the literature review for NGSC.
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM: Attended a free talk on campus after work by activist and poet Cleo Wade on self-care and the importance of building communities of care.

 Tuesday:

  • 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM: Arrived in the office, caught up on emails, and made a to-do list for the day.
  • 9:15 AM – 11:30 AM: Prepared for my weekly touch base with my boss, Jacqueline.
  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Attended my weekly touch base with Jacqueline where we discussed an article President Crow sent to her on why big companies tend to squander good ideas that she asked me to read and develop a response for.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Ate lunch with the other fellows in our office.
  • 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Worked on the literature review for NGSC.
  • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Facilitated article club for staff, where we discussed an article on the business case for curiosity published in the Harvard Business Review, and how we use curiosity here at UI to drive innovation.  

 Wednesday:

  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Arrived in the office, caught up on emails, made a to-do list for the day, and prepared for my 10:00 AM phone call.
  • 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Spoke with the program manager of the McCain Institute’s Next Generation Leaders program in Washington, DC where ASU has a presence to determine points of overlap and gather ideas to improve Next Generation Service Corps.
  • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Attended our weekly staff Meeting where I presented a book report on Joseph E. Aoun’s book, “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Facilitated a brown bag discussion for UI staff on the key takeaways from the Leadership and Innovation Summit and presented recommendations for ASU/UI.
  • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Met with our executive director and design and communications specialist to use my career advising and counseling experience to help them create a graphic for President Crow on universal learning.
  • 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Worked on a graphic for universal learning and caught up on emails.
  • 7:30 PM: Went downtown after work to attend an NBA game (go Suns!).

Thursday:

  • 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM: Arrived in the office, caught up on emails, and made a to-do list for the day.
  • 9:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Worked on the literature review for NGSC.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Ate lunch with the other fellows in our office.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 PM: Worked on the universal learning graphic.
  • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Met with the team to finalize the universal learning graphic for President Crow.
  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Facilitated an alumni engagement committee meeting for fourth-year ASU undergraduate students enrolled in NGSC as part of an ongoing effort to create a strategic plan for implementing sustainable alumni engagement strategies.  

Friday:

  • 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM: Arrived in the office, caught up on emails, and made a to-do list for the day.
  • 9:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Composed my quarter 1 report which outlined completed and ongoing tasks, as well as initial reflections on the fellowship.
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: During my lunch hour I spoke with a former student of mine at the community college who transferred to ASU and asked me to do an informational interview for one of his classes.
  • 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Worked on the literature review for NGSC.
  • 5:00 PM: Walked to happy hour with the fellows at Café Boa down the street.
Blog / A Week In the Life of a Ui Fellow