Splitting the chores
August 20, 2009
For Noah and Megan Kruis married life includes working together—at the same job. On June 1st, the Kruises began sharing the job of associate director of the service-learning center.
"Job-sharing is an opportunity in this stage of life to live a more balanced life-style,” said Noah, “where we are both involved in the raising of our children and we are both able to contribute to the community through our work.”
A perfect fit
"We really see this job as being the perfect mold of our professional experiences,” said Megan. “We didn’t go looking for a job share. It was just this job opened, and the needs of the position seemed perfectly fit for us.”
Currently, Noah comes into work Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday for a total of 24 hours a week, and Megan comes in Tuesdays and Thursdays, logging 16 hours weekly. However, once the school year begins, Megan will come in on Fridays instead of Thursdays in order to better interact with the department’s student workers.
As the associate director(s) of the service-learning center, the Kruises will supervise the center’s many student workers. This summer they are mentoring junior Karen Van Dyke as she plans Streetfest 2009 for incoming freshmen.
For Noah, former assistant director of the admissions office at Calvin, the new position allows for something he always valued: more time with his young children, Jonah and Eden. "I knew that I wanted to be more involved in their lives,” said Noah, “and Megan knew that she wanted to be out of the house and working more.”
Since his 2004 graduation, Noah has been working full-time in the Calvin admissions department. He met Megan, a Calvin alumnus from 2003, through living on the Mosaic floor, an intentional living community in a residence hall. “My R.A. challenged me to ask her out,” said Noah. “We went to the dorm banquet together,” said Megan, laughing. “It was really awkward. When we were there I realized that the only people who were there together were people who had been dating for a long time." The couple has been married since 2005.
"Right when we got married we approached our church about starting a Project Neighborhood house,” said Megan. The specific area they had in mind was the Creston neighborhood because they knew the area really well. The couple worked for two years to get the funding for the house, dubbed the Nizhoni ("beautiful" in Navajo) House now. “We had no idea that by the time we would be done with it we would have two kids,” said Megan with a smile. “It was a good experience.”
After mentoring for Project Neighborhood, the couple wanted to combine Noah’s involvement in higher education and Megan’s involvement in community organization. It was at that time that the service-learning center position opened up. After applying, Noah and Megan had to prove that they could handle the position.
"We were told in the interview process that: ‘You have to really prove that this is worth the trouble to the institution,’” said Noah. For Calvin, it meant that two people would be reporting for the position instead of one. Also, there are questions about how the couple should best use their office space. “Do we spend to have two computers for one position? There are those questions,” said Noah.
The Kruises are among several couples sharing one position at Calvin, since chemistry professors Mark and Karen Muyskens pioneered the arrangement in 1997. the couple has learned quickly that sharing this job requires them to communicate well. “I had worked on a schedule for the Streetfest coordinator, and then the next day Megan worked on it with her and changed things,” said Noah with a laugh. Megan added that service-learning director Jeff Bouman, has been a champion for their job-sharing.
"Megan and Noah bring a rich set of complementary skills and experiences to the table," wrote Bouman in an email. "Megan and Noah's obvious commitment to life beyond Calvin - to church, to neighborhood, to family - these are commitments that will enhance their work at Calvin and better enable all of us to fulfill the larger Calvin community's vision for transformation in all of these areas."
Although the couple received much encouragement from Bouman and other Calvin employees who job-share, not everyone is a supporter. "I’ve had people tell me: ‘This is not a good step for your career,’ said Noah. “I was at a spot in the admissions office where I had climbed up in leadership, and had potential for continuing to do so. But, because of my values, this was the right thing to do.”
"It is just a matter of who is giving the advice,” said Megan. “This move was really good for my career, and it opens up options for us going into the future.”
In addition to career aspirations though, the Kruis family is happy to stay at Calvin and in their community. "Sharing this position gives us the flexibility to be able to take on projects,” said Megan, “other things that are interesting to us. Noah has been leading the pastor search committee at our church.”
"I would love to see job-sharing be an option for people so that they can live a more balanced life,” said Noah. “I think that America’s 40 hours a week or more is not the most balanced way. I think a lot of things that I learned at Calvin about pursing shalom, and being in right relationship with all of your life—I think this is one way of coming closer to that.”
~by Matt Decker, communications and marketing