Being a Human is the Real Work

Nora Bond ’14

Nora Bond ’14

Associate Director, Convergence on Campus

Academic focus: psychology major, complex organizations minor

Internship: research assistant, Mount Holyoke Cognition Lab

Study Abroad: University of Sussex, UK

Advanced degree: M.A., child study and human development

I studied psychology, completed a masters in human development and now work with three distinct organizations as a consultant. I help each one develop organizational practices that serve its institutional goals and those of the individuals that work there. In short, I have never lost sight of the people behind the work. I am more interested in how the work gets done, who is feeling neglected or admired, what is going on for each person, rather than the explicit behavior.

This is in large part due to my education and demeanor, but I also felt this in the Reese Psychology & Education Building itself. No one there was going to belittle me or be unable to understand my personal circumstances or let me not work hard. My classes and professors knew me as a person and it made a world of difference. Discovering that my other workplaces are not as committed to this was disappointing and led to my decision to work as a consultant.

For example, one organization I work with builds a professional development curriculum for teachers. While doing some on-site discovery work, I realized that most of the teachers didn't know each other’s names, never mind anything about their personal lives, passions or philosophies of teaching. I worked with the curriculum team to do some trust-building — not mere icebreakers or campy games, but real-time self-discovery and self-disclosure.

This work made a huge difference — I found that trust was the lubricant for organizational change. I also worked with Mount Holyoke’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, work I loved immensely. My main responsibility was seeing students for their nonacademic selves, and understanding the deeper currents of how their lives related to meaning and purpose. On one occasion, I was late to a staff meeting because I had been sitting with a student in crisis. I apologized to the other advisors until someone said, “Being with students is your job — you were doing your job.”

Understanding that people are people, first, foremost and primarily, is the key to better work and my study of psychology has helped me discover this.