Celebrating April 21, National Administrative Professional Day

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Communications and Administrative Support Liaison, Daniel Franks, joined the department in January of 2019. He grew up in Manchester, England, and graduated from the University of Nottingham with the equivalent of a BA.

Daniel came to the United States in 2018 and lives in downtown Minneapolis, MN, with his wife, Jessie and their cat, Poppy. “It made sense for me to come here because Jessie was attending nursing school,” he said. “She graduates in a couple of weeks.”

While he had a few jobs in England, such as teaching English as a second language and working as a freelancer on films, being an admin professional for the department is different. “When I moved here, it gave me a chance to reinvent myself,” he said. “This has turned out to be my favorite job.”

Using all his skills
His role allows Daniel to use all his skills. “I like being creative and being encouraged to learn and apply new skills,” he said. “I also enjoy learning about psychiatry. My knowledge about the field has increased a lot.”

Daniel added that an admin role isn’t just about scheduling, answering phones and emails. “There are so many different aspects to the job… it’s not what people think it is,” he said. “You can come from many different backgrounds and incorporate your experience into an admin role.”

One of the challenges of being an administrative professional – especially one who is fairly new to the role – is that people tend to think you know everything. But Daniel knows how to overcome that. “If I can’t answer a question, I now know someone who can,” he said.

COVID challenges
Working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic has been another challenge. “It was amazing for about two weeks and then I began to miss interacting with people,” he said. “You also can’t ask someone a quick question. Now, you might have to wait two days for an answer.”

One of the antidotes to working from home has been the cat. “It’s relaxing to watch her sleep while I’m working,” Daniel said. Poppy has also played starring roles during some of his Zoom meetings. Daniel also checks in often with his coworkers to see how things are going. “I enjoy working with everyone here … it’s a great team,” he said.

Daniel lives close enough to the U of M campus that he could walk to work. “I miss not being able to say hi to people along the way,” he said. “And it was good exercise.”

What makes a good admin?
From Daniel’s perspective, a good admin needs to be able to multitask, manage their time well, and prioritize their work. They also need to learn how to say no or to at least negotiate. “If you can’t get something done by the requested time, suggest an alternative,” he said.

Having a good support network is important. “It’s a big thing for me,” said Daniel. “And having a boss who cares about you is very important … I feel appreciated here.”

In his spare time, Daniel likes to write film scripts. A script he’s working on now made the quarter finals a couple of years in a row at a festival in Los Angeles called Scriptapalooza. It also made the finals of the Hollywood Screenplay Contest in the horror category. “Screenwriting is my dream,” he said.