A Fresh Perspective on Institutional Research

Samantha Sinclair, Research & Planning Analyst

Last week was my two month anniversary as a Research & Planning Analyst with the Institutional Research department and I already feel like part of the team. Maybe it’s the birthday pranks I’ve been recruited to assist with (e.g., decorating Rashmi’s office with post-it notes and filling Megan’s office with 400+ balloons), or perhaps it’s because my colleagues have made an effort to define the acronyms that permeate their conversations –  but whatever the reason, everyone has made me feel at home.

As with most new jobs, the first week was as expected – learning new names, filling out a gazillion forms, familiarizing myself with key resources, tracking down the nearest Tim Hortons and bombarding my colleagues with questions. Lucky for me, no one expected me to already know how to navigate the college application database or what a National Occupational Classification is. However, it wasn’t all baby steps either – I quickly found myself attending meetings with Deans, and within two weeks I was working on my first report.

I never expected my role could be so independent yet collaborative at the same time. Conducting research and analysis on potential new programs, and reviewing the progress of existing programs requires a lot of reading and writing alone, yet there is so much team work involved in narrowing down which programs to explore, brainstorming about the impact of results and troubleshooting when problems or questions arise. It’s a huge benefit to be able to draw on the knowledge and expertise of the whole Office of Research Services and Innovation team.

What I love most is there’s an emphasis on the utility of deliverables. Rather than conducting surveys and producing reports merely out of habit, the purpose and impact of our tasks are constantly discussed.  Knowing that the work I am doing will actually have an impact on programs, people and services at Durham College is refreshing and motivating.